Summary: Parable of the Two Sons.
The Good Son…Sort of.
Beartown Road Alliance Church
October 8th, 2006
There was a movie out a while back called “My Life” about a man who learns that he is dying and you get a look at the way that it changes his life and his family’s life. He begins to make a series of videos for his unborn son so that the baby will know his father. He is forced to boil things down to what he thinks is most important to share in the little time that he has left. Have you ever thought about what you would do if you knew that you only had one week to live? What would your priorities be? How would you spend your time, who would you spend it with? Parents, what would you teach your children during your last days?
When we know that we only have a short amount of time, things take on a sense of urgency. When every minute counts, we can’t be bothered by trivial things, things that don’t have life changing implications.
As we move through the book of Matthew, we have come to what is known as Passion Week. We have come to the last week of Christ’s Earthly ministry before He is sentenced to death and crucified by the Romans at the insistence of the Jewish leaders and people. Christ knows that his ministry is winding down and He knows that He must prepare His disciples for the coming days and there is a sense of urgency. He begins to openly discuss His coming death and resurrection. Every exchange, every action, every lesson takes on added importance. He boils His teachings down to the essentials; He reiterates those things that He has been teaching for the last three years, hammering home His points with a series of actions and displays and events that will leave the disciples shaking their heads in wonder.
The week begins with the arrival of the King in Jerusalem. Jesus rides into the city on the back of a donkey, fulfilling the words of the prophet Zechariah in 9:9
ZEC 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
President Bush visited the town of Mansfield in Ohio where Erin and I lived. It was an unbelievable sight. As his car drove through the city streets, there were people lined up 10 deep on the sidewalks screaming and waving, just hoping to get a glimpse of the most powerful man in the world.
This is the scene that we have at the beginning of chapter 21 as Jesus rides into the city. We’re told that a large crowd lined the streets and that they laid their cloaks and branches they had cut down on the road in front of Jesus. The crowd followed Him shouting:
"Hosanna to the Son of David!""Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Hosanna in the highest!"
The Jewish crowd was welcoming it’s Messiah home. The gospel of Mark adds these words to what the crowd was shouting: "Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!" The Messiah King had returned! This is the moment that the disciples had waited for, this was what the Jewish people had waited for, the king returning to take His throne, to restore the people to their place of prominence. And this was the beginning of what would restore God’s people, but it was not found in thrones and power, like the people imagined, but in humility, weakness, and a cross on a hill.
When He entered the city, we’re told that the whole city was stirred, they realized that something significant was taking place. The Pharisees also were watching and it burned them to see this trouble maker received in this way. This was the first in a series of encounters with the Pharisees, that happened this last week, that pushed them over the edge and put into motion the events that would forever change man’s relationship with God, the events that would accomplish the plan of God for the salvation of His creation. All of History had led up to this.
When Jesus enters the city, he goes immediately to the temple. Seeing this structure that had been God’s plan and design, that had been built as the dwelling place of God, that place where man and God came together in fellowship and reconciliation, seeing what it had become, Christ takes action. Again, we see that He no longer has the luxury of veiling His teachings, of leaving it up to the listener to discern the Truth. His time is running short and so He makes a dramatic point. Seated at tables throughout the courtyard are men who are making a profit off of the poor who have come seeking the forgiveness of God through sacrifices. Christ enters the courtyard and is consumed with zeal for God’s honor. He begins to fling the tables over. Money would have been flying everywhere, doves and pigeons, the ones used for sacrifices, would have been escaping into the air. It would have been chaos. And just to make sure that His point is received, John tells us that He made a whip and drove the merchants out of the courtyard. If you want to make a point, a whip is a very effective way to do it! He cleanses the temple, returning it to what it was meant to be, a house of prayer, a place where people could come and meet God. Again the Pharisees are watching.