Summary: A Palm Sunday message looking at how Jesus challenged people’s relationship with God
There was an elderly lady who was waiting in the waiting room with her daughter. The nurse entered the waiting area and announced for the elderly lady to go on back to see the doctor. The nurse spoke louder but still she could not hear.
The elderly lady’s daughter leaned over and said, "mother let’s turn your hearing aid up." Then she yelled in shock, “That’s not your hearing aid, it’s a suppository!
The elderly mother replied, “Well, now I know where my hearing aid went!
Misunderstandings – that elderly lady clearly had had one! Palm Sunday represents something of a misunderstanding of God’s kingdom. The Jews of Jesus day were fully expecting the Christ to come, the kingdom would come & destroy the Romans & set up his throne in Jerusalem & rule the world. No doubt many of the crowd on Palm Sunday thought Jesus was about to do just that. Which was a misunderstanding, central to Luke’s account of Palm Sunday is the temple (19:45, 47, 20:1-2, 21:5-6; 21:37-8). To the events of Palm Sunday we cannot overestimate the shadow cast across them by the Temple. It was one of the greatest buildings in the world at that time. Solomon’s Temple was destroyed but another was built under Haggai & Zerubbabel – this was undergoing major renovations as Herod threw loads of money at it. But it was more than how it looked it was its significance. It was at the heart of the faith of every Jew. People’s expectations were high as Jesus entered Jerusalem. What was he going to do? Was he going to come out against the Romans at the Temple?
All through Luke’s Gospel Jesus has showed how Jesus differed radically from the old religion, here finally as Luke reaches the climax of his story he shows how Jesus really was the new wine in new wineskins that would break the old wineskin of religion for which the Temple was it’s main symbol. That was where people encountered God. What does Jesus have to say about it the Jews relationship with God, their Temple? Well Jesus cleans it up, he finds things that there that should not be there, things that shouldn’t be happening, ideas that need challenging, changing.
For us as Christians where does that encounter take place? In a building? Certainly not – it is within or among us, since we are God’s Temple. Our innermost being is where we can meet with God. So for us the “temple” is our own hearts. The temple stands for our relationship with God. Good or bad, real or genuine, the temple stands for our relationship with God. Most of what happens in chapter 20 is the Jews trying to trap Jesus, but Jesus exposing them. Some of the things he exposes in and around their temple we may find challenging as we inspect our temple. I find 5 areas that leave us with 5 questions – you may find some speak to you, lets allow Jesus to inspect our hearts as he inspected the Temple…
How clean is your temple? - The Temple was designed as a place of prayer & communion with God but it was being abused. It was full of greed and corruption. The religious leaders were using it to rip people off. The Temple was transformed into a busy Eastern Market for the Passover, sellers intent on only getting the highest price, buyers protesting furiously as the authorities had rigged it to be a profitable as possible. What are the things as Jesus inspects your temple will he find that need cleaning? The place where he wants to find communion with us, what is there that should not be? Is there greed, impurity, indifference, a busyness that makes no room for fellowship with him and time for others? Do you need a cleansing of the Temple this Easter? Are you willing to let Jesus upset the tables in your heart, to cause a holy disturbance, to clear out what needs to be cleared out?
Who has the last word as to what goes on in your temple? 20:1-19 - The religious leaders clearly were not happy about this and basically asked whom do you think you are, who gave you the right to interfere with our temple. Jesus reply in the parable of the tenants is basically “I am God’s Son, so I have every authority. Failure to recognise this will be disastrous for you”. The question this poses for us is about authority. Do we have the attitude of the Pharisees “how dare God tell me what I can and cannot do?” Are we prepared to accept that Jesus has every right to come and inspect our hearts, to call for change, to upset things? He is to have the last word. So who has the last word about what goes on in your heart, mind and life? Are there things we resent? Do we not like God’s interference in our lives, the way he messes things up for us?