Messianic Expectations (Mark 11:1–11)

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Doug Van Meter - 3 November 2019

Messianic Expectations (Mark 11:1–11)

When someone begins the path of following Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, there are often expectations which prove to be wrongheaded, if not entirely wrong. But usually it does not take long before some semblance of reality sets in and we begin take seriously Jesus’ words. Our text teaches us about the correct expectations we should have of Jesus Christ.

Scripture References: Mark 11:1-11

From Series: "Mark Exposition"

An exposition of the Gospel of Mark by Doug Van Meter.

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As I write these words, millions of South Africans are celebrating South Africa’s recent victory in the rugby World Cup final against England. The build-up to the final was euphoric. At least one news article went over the top, claiming that “a Springbok victory would save South Africa.” We could rightly call this a wrong kind of messianic expectation.

We often are confronted with different kinds of messianic expectations; that is, expectations that someone or something or some event is going to deliver us from some malady or is going to enrich our life in some amazing way. We do this with relationships, financial investments, career moves, and even politicians and political parties. Usually, we find ourselves disappointed. We discover that the relationship fails to meet our needs; the financial investment we expected to secure a wonderful retirement doesn’t occur; the expert physician was not able to supply the cure; and the highly acclaimed political leader proves no better than previous leaders.

Paul Tripp talks about wrongheaded aspirations for marriage in his helpful book What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage. He exposes our false expectations for marriage and how these can lead to disappointment, disillusionment, and even divorce. A solution to counter this is to see what the Bible teaches concerning what we should expect. Among other things, we should expect conflict because even the best of marriages involves two sinners. Fallen husbands and wives, living in a fallen world, means that marriage will face difficulties. We need biblical, not fanciful, expectations of marriage.

When it comes to the Christian life, we should apply the same principle. To paraphrase Tripp, Mark’s Gospel could be titled, What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of the Christian Life. These realities become front and centre with the opening of Mark chapter 11.

When someone begins the path of following Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, there are often expectations that prove to be wrongheaded, if not entirely wrong. Some might believe that Christianity will guarantee them freedom for financial woes. Others might expect Christianity to deliver them from their addiction to alcohol, drugs, or sex. Still others might expect that their relationships with their spouse, their parents, or their friends will be wondrously trouble-free. Many have the messianic expectation that all their prayers will be answered and physical afflictions will always be healed.

But usually it doesn’t take long before some semblance of reality sets in and we begin take seriously Jesus’ words, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33).

The disciples and crowd that was with Jesus would, in a few days, taste something of this reality. This is very instructive for you and me.

With Mark 11:1 we begin a new section, which will occupy our attention through 13:37, when Jesus completes his discourse on the Mount of Olives. It is a section marked by what is sometimes referred to as Jesus’ “triumphal entry,” followed by his cleansing of the temple and then his discourses with those opposed to him and with his disciples.

Contrary to what most in Israel expected, Messiah brought judgment, not on Israel’s oppressive enemy (Rome) but rather on Israel itself (13:1–37).

This section is then followed by the final section (14:1–16:20) in which the theme is God satisfying his justice. We call the events of both sections “Passion Week,” for the assumption is that this all took place in a seven-day period, commencing with Palm Sunday and concluding with Resurrection Sunday.

There are some good reasons to believe that some of Mark’s material actually took place over a several month period, commencing with the Feast of Tabernacles (September) through this Passover Week. In other words, though the emphasis of these final chapters is on what happened during Passover Week, some of the encounters with the opponents of Jesus occurred before this. That being said, Mark wants his readers to conflate the events of chapters 11–13 in order for us to focus not so much as the messianic Saviour as much as the messianic Judge. In fact, we must see him as Judge if we will properly see him as Saviour (14:1ff). Without this, we are headed for false expectations about Christian discipleship.

We will explore the present text under three broad headings.

A Deliberate Manifestation

First, we see a deliberate manifestation.

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it.

(Mark 11:1–7)

In this passage, the long journey from Capernaum to Jerusalem reaches its conclusion. Now, having travelled the final thirty-some kilometres from Jericho, the Lord and his disciples, with the accompanying crowd of pilgrims, were on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Jericho lay many hundred meters below Jerusalem. In fact, its elevation is even lower than that of the Dead Sea. It must have been a glorious sight as they came to the base of the Mount of Olives, just east of Jerusalem, and saw the glistening limestone walls of the city of Jerusalem, the city of God. No doubt, many would remember this day until their death.

They came to Bethany, the village of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. From here, Jesus and his disciples would spend three days making the three-kilometre trip back and forth to Jerusalem. But on this day, Jesus would enter the Holy City and make two symbolic statements.

Triumphal, Not Triumphalist

This passage is commonly referred to as “the triumphal entry.” This is a good description, as long as we realise in what way Jesus was entering Jerusalem triumphant. As we will see, his view of triumph was radically different from that of the jubilant crowd. Whereas the crowd was triumphalistic, Jesus was intent on truly being triumphant. The crowds view of triumph was coronation; Jesus’ view was crucifixion.

The Lord Jesus Christ was self-consciously “gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:28–30). In his entry to Jerusalem, he displayed this (cf. Matthew 21:5). But his humility should not be interpreted as indifference, and certainly not as weakness. There is nothing weak about the way he encountered the week before him. Jesus was a man’s man and nowhere is this more evident than in the way he persevered to, on, and through Calvary. His tenacious commitment to his Father’s will was evident in the scene before us as he threw down the gauntlet upon his entrance into the city.

Here, Jesus initiated a deliberate manifestation of his identity, which set the stage for a decisive confrontation.

Commentators on Mark’s Gospel repeatedly reference Jesus’ messianic secret as he went from place to place. On many occasions, he commanded people to not tell anyone of his identity. When demons were confronted, and announced his identity, he silenced them by casting them out of the oppressed, even drowning many of them (5:1–20). When he healed people, they wanted to tell others who Jesus was and he told them not to. Why? Because of the wrongheadedness of most in Israel who expected someone, like their famed Maccabeans, who led a (failed) revolution against Rome in the latter part of the last century BC. The nation of Israel, misreading the Old testament prophets, and erroneously listening to false messiahs, anticipated that when, Yahweh sent Messiah, he would come and clean house militarily. He would defeat Rome and restore Israel to Solomonic glory. Jesus was careful not to up such messianic fervour.

Further, such erroneous enthusiasm would also put his mission in jeopardy because the Romans would see him as a threat, as would the hypocritical Jewish religious leaders. They would kill him (which they had already tried, according to Luke 4:16–30). And though this is why he came, he was following a divine timetable. Therefore, he maintained messianic secrecy—until now.

In the previous pericope we already saw that Jesus was no longer concealing his identity. When Bartimaeus cried out—twice—“Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus did not silence him. The secret was out. Here, Jesus himself boldly reveals it.

Jesus, his disciples, and the (Galilean) crowd joined with a multitude of pilgrims who were streaming into the city for the Passover celebration. Many would be lodging in nearby Bethphage and Bethany.

As the people came to Jerusalem to celebrate the remembrance of God’s deliverance of his people from the oppressive Egyptians (Exodus 12–14), there was perhaps anticipation that soon God would do the same by delivering the nation from the oppressive rule of Rome. The nation longed for the day when Jerusalem would once again be free and glorious. Perhaps at Passover, messianic expectation was higher than at any other time. Therefore, what was about to take place is deeply significant.

Meekness and Majesty

Before entering Jerusalem, Jesus sent two disciples with specific orders. As they entered, they would immediately find a colt (from parallel accounts, a colt of a donkey) tied to a rail. They were to bring it with them. If asked what they were doing they were to respond that “the Lord has need of it” and they would be allowed to carry on.

Perhaps this was arranged beforehand by Jesus. Regardless, this scene reveals Jesus’ authority. While the word “Lord” can be a form of respectful address such as “sir,” for most Jews in Jerusalem it would refer to God. God needed to use the donkey. God required it for the fulfilment of prophecy (Zechariah 9:9–10; Genesis 49:10–11).

Perhaps Jesus had arranged with the owner that indeed God was conscripting the colt for his use. And perhaps Jesus was doubling down on this word to make the inference that he is God. Regardless, the disciples carried out the command and came back with the colt.

An important detail is that the colt was one “on which no one has ever sat.” The Old Testament often required an unused animal for sacred purposes (Numbers 19:1–2ff; Deuteronomy 21:1–3ff; see 1 Samuel 6:1–7ff). This speaks of offering to God that which is the best and unblemished. This would seem to be the situation here. Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, was coming to Jerusalem where he would die as a sinless sacrifice. The most sacred action ever to take place must not be defiled. If the physical ark of God required this, how much more the literal meeting place of God, the literal mercy seat of God.

Having brought the colt to Jesus, people in the crowd, and perhaps also the disciples, put some of their clothes on its back for a makeshift saddle. Jesus sat on it for his entrance into Jerusalem. It should be noted that, when entering Jerusalem for a feast, especially the feast of Passover, it was expected that people would walk into the city. For Jesus to come into the city on a donkey would arouse attention.

As an aside, this is another sign of Jesus’ authority. Have you ever seen someone ride an unbroken animal? The meek one was not a weak one. In fact, the meek one was meek because he was the strong one.

This scene was a fulfilment specifically of Zechariah 9:9.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Jesus came to fulfil every iota and dot of the law (Matthew 5:17–19), including this prophecy. This was a divine demonstration of Jesus’ self-consciousness that he was Israel’s promised Messiah and king. He was no longer keeping this secret. He was making a bold and courageous statement.

The Prince of Peace

For those in the crowd, as well as Mark’s readers who paid attention to the entirety of the prophecy, Jesus’ manner of entrance would have tempered their expectations. For the prophecy of Zechariah promised a king of peace, not a king of war. Jesus rode a donkey rather than a horse because he came to bring peace on earth and goodwill to men. Ironically, he would go to war for this to happen. He would face the most intense spiritual warfare ever to occur. Note verse 10:

I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the war horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
and he shall speak peace to the nations;
his rule shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

A Different Kind of King

Zechariah prophesied that, when Messiah came to Jerusalem, he would take away the weapons of warfare (“chariot,” “horse,” “battle bow”) because his reign would be radically different than the rulers of this world. Jesus would not rule by brute force. Rather, he would rule Israel and all the nations, to the ends of the earth, in such a way that peace would be the norm. How would he do this?

He would do so by reconciling God to man and then by reconciling man to man. This peace was foreshadowed in the rule of Solomon, though unfortunately, unlike Jesus’ reign, righteousness did not reign. Solomon in fact multiplied horses to himself in defiance of God’s law (Deuteronomy 17:16). Solomon’s kingdom may have enjoyed initial peace, but it would soon face war and defeat and destruction. Most sadly, it would face spiritual apostasy.

But Jesus was preparing for war so that he would then rule in peace. He was throwing down his gauntlet for war with this symbolism of peace, not because he was opposed to peace, but because sinners are opposed to it. We are at war with God. We are not at peace with God and therefore we are not at peace with one another. The passion week ahead would make this abundantly clear.

Jesus had been teaching the upside-down values of the kingdom of God and now he demonstrated it for all to see. How would people respond?

A Deliverance Expectation

Second, we read of the people’s expectation of deliverance.

And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

(Mark 11:8–10)

The Anticipation of Justice

The response of the crowd to the entry of Jesus was one of celebration and anticipation. The expectation of the crowd was at fever pitch. For them, Messiah had arrived and the long centuries of waiting had come to an end. The oppression by a Gentile people had been almost too much to bear and now the king had come to put things right. And he would, but not in the way they expected.

As Jesus came to the entrance of Jerusalem, the crowds paved the way by strewing the path with their cloaks and with leafy branches. We are told by John that this included palm branches. That is significant both for the symbolism (celebration of victorious king) as well as because of its source (palms do not grow near Jerusalem, but they do grow in Jericho). This may suggest an important element in this scene which we will explore later.

The crowd that went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” That is a lot of exclamation marks.

The word “hosanna” means to rescue, to deliver, or to save. Perhaps most literally, it means to save now. It is a cry that acknowledges one’s need for help. It can be a cry of desperation. But here it was a cry of desperate expectation that deliverance was around the corner. There was a tone of celebration and triumphant expectation. The cries of these people displayed an expectation that victory was here and that deliverance had come!

All of the Psalm

These words are quoted from Psalm 118. It is the last of the “Hallel” psalms (113–118). Unfortunately, as too often with us, they only paid attention to one part of the Psalm (vv. 25–26). Jesus would fill in the gap later (Mark 12:10–11; Psalm 118:22–23). Without the right context, their quotation was a false expectation. How often we do this!

We err, not knowing the Scripture. And so we have all kinds of false expectations about following Jesus. The original readers needed this maturing reminder. So do we.

Jesus understood that the cross would precede the crown. We need to understand the same: suffering precedes sanctification; groaning precedes glory; darkness precedes deliverance. God has designed it this way because he wants us to want him, not merely what we can get from him.

Without belabouring the point, this chorus of praise and plea was wrongheaded. What they were asking for and what they were expecting was contrary to the very symbolism that Jesus had enacted by riding on the foal of a donkey. The crowd wanted war; Jesus came with message of peace. The crowd desired military conquest; Jesus symbolised meekness. The crowd wanted deliverance from political oppression; Jesus symbolised spiritual salvation. Clearly the mission of the crowd was different to the mission of the Christ.

What is your mission? What is your mindset?

Not as Fickle as we Thought; No more Fickle than Us

I have often, even recently, made the comment that the crowd that shouted, “Hosanna!” was the same crowd that, within days, would shout, “Crucify him!” I actually don’t think that is correct.

It is important to note that the scene before us occurred before Jesus entered Jerusalem (v. 11). The other three Gospel writers all capture this timeline. In fact, Luke observes that it was after this celebration that Jesus came to the entrance of Jerusalem and then lamented over it (Luke 19:41).

In other words, this cry of “hosanna” came from the crowd that arrived with Jesus from Galilee. Looking back over the previous chapters, we note a crowd of people had joined Jesus. Most of these would, like him, have been from Galilee.

Galilee was the place where Jesus recruited his disciples. The lone exception was Judas who was from the Judean region of Iscariot. After his resurrection, Jesus would meet with his disciples in Galilee where he would mandate the Great Commission.

When Jesus appeared to more than five hundred disciples at once (1 Corinthian 15:6), most likely it was in Galilee. You will remember that the disciples were hiding behind closed doors in Jerusalem when he appeared to them (John 20:19) and he later met them in Galilee, his home region. Some might argue that the Galileans were more gullible than Judeans. I would argue that “the first will be last, and the last will be first.”

There was no love lost between Galilee and Judea. Galileans and Judeans did not mix well—rather like people from the north of Johannesburg and people from the “deep south.”

The so called discrepancies concerning the timing of the Passover in the Gospel accounts are resolved when we realise that Galileans sacrificed their lambs on one day while Judeans did so the next. This is because Galileans marked a day from sunrise to sunrise while Judeans marked a day from sunset to sunset. This enabled much efficiency (considering that some two hundred lambs were sacrificed every Passover) but it also kept these people from different regions separated from one another. It would seem that the spirit of apartheid was around long before 1948!

Understanding the cultural tensions between these two geographical sets of Jews helps us to understand the apparent fickleness of the crowd. The Galileans were exposed to eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ ministry, including his authoritative teaching, exorcisms, and healings. The Galileans would have heard Bartimaeus calling Jesus “Son of David” and would have observed Jesus’ acceptance of the title.

So far in Mark’s Gospel, the only interaction between Judeans and Jesus was negative (3:22ff). Further, the scribes, who frequently had negative encounters with Jesus, were trained in Jerusalem.

When Jesus was on the verge of entering Jerusalem—on the prophesied colt no less—the Galileans would have been deeply excited that their aspirations had come to pass. And, though naively, they probably supposed that the Judeans, especially those in Jerusalem, would be equally excited. They were in for a shocking surprise.

It is striking that, when Jesus entered Jerusalem, there was a distinct change. France notes, “With the geographical movement comes a corresponding change in the nature of Jesus’ activity. Private teaching gives way to public confrontation, and the miracles which have been so central to Jesus’ popular appeal in the north virtually disappear.”

So, what is the point?

Though the crowd that cried “hosanna” held erroneous expectations of what Jesus would do, nonetheless they were probably much like us: devoted but in need of more biblical expectations. Though they failed to grasp the full purpose of Jesus, nevertheless they probably had a real faith. They just needed help for a fuller faith. Like we do.

These people were truly excited that Jesus had come. They fully anticipated that Jesus would hear their celebratory pleas to deliver them. But sadly, like so many (like us), what they wanted was not what Jesus promised.

We are not fickle, but we need to be more faithful. Help one another to do this. Disciple one another about the reality of the Christian life. And walk this road with one another. It’s not easy. Be slow to criticise and quick to be constructive. Be careful about giving false expectations in your evangelism.

 

A Disturbing Inspection

Finally, we read of a disturbing inspection: “And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve” (Mark 11:11).

The Preparation for Judgment

What was discussed above is pertinent here. Our expectation is often different to God’s expectation. And his expectation is to inform ours!

The Calm Before the Storm

As the crowds quoted Psalm 118, Jesus no doubt had the same psalm on his mind—all of it. Perhaps he especially mused over the second half of v. 26, which they were not quoting: “We bless you from the house of the LORD.” It is to that house that Jesus went. It was the condition of that house that was of paramount concern to him, for it revealed that Israel needed to be saved from Israel, not from Rome. Israel’s greatest enemy was not the sins of Rome but its own sin.

Israel’s greatest threat was not Rome, it was God. Jesus planned to do something about that. Verse 11 plays a significant role in this.

After being lauded by the Galilean crowd, Jesus now entered Jerusalem. And he made a beeline for the temple. As a faithful Jew, he headed for the centre of Israel’s worship. In this enigmatic scene, it seems that nothing really happened. And in a Gospel that seems committed to brevity, we wonder why Mark bothered to record it.

In fact, this is a very powerfully profound scene. Jesus was on God’s mission.

The words “he looked around” are key in Mark. Of the seven times it is used in the New Testament, Mark uses it six times. Five of those have reference to Jesus as the one doing the “looking” (3:5, 34; 5:32; 10:23). It suggests “a looking everywhere and all round everything. This compound verb suggests a thoroughness in looking” (Morgan). Nothing was left unnoticed to the eyes of Jesus.

This was not a gaze of wonder. Jesus was not a tourist. It was not a look of inspection to discover. Jesus wasn’t a scientist. No, this was a look of what Morgan described as “the voluntary contemplation of what is already known. The idea is that of looking thoroughly at the whole of the facts before his eyes, the kind of looking which suggests thought.”

It is the kind of look that sees beyond the obvious. It is the kind of look that sees below the superficial surface. It is the kind of look that is personally interested in what it sees.

When Jesus entered the temple area, we can be sure that he did so with a heavy heart. No selfies would be taken on this day. No levity. Very little conversation, but probably several deep sighs. Jesus was observing what he knew was taking place here: the desecration of God’s designated meeting place. He saw a destructive force at work, which invited the destructive judgement of God. But he also saw a future as he, the true temple, would one day soon replace this structure. In other words, Jesus also saw what we might call a constructive judgement. This temple would be destroyed, but the temple of his body would rise again (John 2:19).

You see, Jesus went into the temple as the King of Jerusalem. He went as the Lord of the temple. He went as the one to whom the temple pointed. He went as the one of whom Malachi spoke of four hundred years earlier:

Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.

(Malachi 3:1–4)

Jesus looked at what was going on in the temple with x-ray vision and what he saw was deeply disturbing. He saw the condition of the corporate worship of the people of God. It was vacuous, rotten, and corrupt. It was barren. And Jesus planned to do something about it. But not now.

It was late, and so Jesus went to Bethany for the night with his disciples. After seeing what he saw, I wonder how well he slept. From what follows, we know that he had a plan for his next visit to the temple.

With the celebration ringing in Jesus’ ears, by well-meaning Jews from Galilee, from those who have some understanding of Jesus’ identity, he is not detoured from his mission to establish the kingdom of God. This would require a work of judgement. The nation of Israel had desecrated the worship of God. The nation needed to be delivered from this awful sin. It needs to be delivered from the wrath of God. That is what Jesus had come to do. He would give his life as a ransom for the many who were involved in false worship: sinners, like you and me, and like multitudes in our nation and throughout the world. The religious are as much in need of salvation as are the irreligious.

What Jesus Expects

G Campbell Morgan helpfully preached:

He still looks round about all things in the church, upon all its worship and upon all its work. We need to remember that when Jesus looks, he sees everything thoroughly. He sees the good, and he sees the bad. He sees that which is high, and that which is low. He sees that which is true, and that which is merely formal. He knows whether, when our lips recite the prayer he taught his disciples, whether we are indulging in the talk of parrots or praying. He sees thoroughly the internal as well as the external, the motive as well as the manner, the aspiration as well as the achievement.

When Jesus looks at us—at everything that is going on in the temple of the new covenant church (1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:19–21; 1 Peter 2:4–8)—what does he see? What does he expect? What are Messiah’s expectations? Simply, surrender, trust, and holiness. This summarises this passage.

Brothers, and sisters, it is all too easy to ask God to judge the Romans in our society while completely missing the need in our own lives for a Saviour. In other words, while we ask God to sort out our corrupt officials, as we ask God to rescue us from the evil of those who fail in their mandated responsibility, what about our mandated responsibility?

Do you fulfil your responsibility to love your spouse, to train your children to love God, to fulfil your biblical, covenant responsibilities as a church member, to fulfil your financial responsibilities, etc.?

What does Jesus see when he looks at his temple? Lips moving but hearts murderous? Eyes open but ears close? Professions of love but deeds of bitterness and hatred? Professions of faith but practical unbelief?

Or perhaps he sees deep darkness yet tenacious hope; frail bodies but strong spirits; tired bodies but zealous hearts; wearied but worshipping soldiers; impoverished but faithful worshippers; betrayed but joyfully persevering Christians; those who are guilty and yet graced.

The thought of Jesus seeing us thoroughly is frightening when we consider our sin and our sinfulness. Yet at the same time his gaze is also a grace. For not only does he see our faults, but he sees (if we are in Christ) that we are forgiven.

God expects surrender, trust and holiness, but we fail in these. Yet Jesus succeeded in every one of them. For that reason, he can save now. In fact, Jesus was not saved so that we can cry “hosanna”! But because of this, we can, by his grace, fulfil what he expects. And so, when he looks around, he can be pleased.

Unlike the physical temple, which unbelievers frequented, the true temple of God—the true church—is composed of those chosen by God and saved by the blood of Jesus. We are a part of his temple because we have been forgiven. We have been justified. This means that we remain a part of the temple and we will never be destroyed by his wrath. Rather, with his eyes of fire (Revelation 1:14) he sees our faults in order to correct, not to condemn (Revelation 2:18ff).

Think about that right now. We all fall short of God’s glory and of God’s glorious purpose for his temple. But because Jesus died for us and rose again, forgiveness is our birthright. If we repentantly confess our sins, God will forgive us sins. And our temple can and will be repaired.

As we bring our study to a close, let me ask: Are you among the Galilean crowd delightfully celebrating Jesus? I hope so. But remember what should be at the top of our celebration: forgiveness of sin and reconciliation to God by the substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our celebration is justified because Jesus is risen.

You may not be delivered from all that you want to be delivered from in this life. In fact, I can assure you that you will not be; for all creation yet groans until that final day of redemption when the new heaven and the new earth will come in its fullness (Romans 8:18–25). Suffering relationally, physically, emotionally, financially, politically, and socially will continue for the church and for individual Christians in some measure. But as we remember that Jesus, the Son of David, the Son of God has heard our cries to save us from our sins—to save us from God!—then we can live a life of celebration. We can and must live a life of anticipation of an eventual glory—that day when, once and for all and for ever, Jesus will answer our “hosanna” with, “You have been saved to sin no more.” Indeed, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

AMEN