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Brave, Courageous and Bold
(The Road to Jerusalem, 2)

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(4/1) I grew up in a time of heroes. TV had shows like Superman who fought for Truth, Justice and the American Way. Iíll bet over ten years we had a hundred different Western shows. Letís just have some fun for a moment. Can you name some of the westerns that we watched in the 50ís and 60ís?

In 1957, I was just 6 years old when Hugh OíBrian starred in Wyatt Earp. Can you remember his special hand-gun? It was the Buntline Special; a long barreled Colt given to him as a gift from novelist Ned Buntline. But what I still remember to this day is the main line from the showís theme song. Do any of you remember it? "Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Brave, Courageous, and Bold. Long live his fame and long live his glory, and long may his story be told." Believe it or not these shows inspired many of us, because they were about heroes that stood up for what was right. They were about men who hated injustice, and made it their business to correct it. They would stand against the bad guys, protecting people who couldnít protect themselves, the poor, the widows and the orphans, regardless of the costs. Remember Yul Brenner and the tremendous cast in the Magnificent Seven? That is still one of my favorite movies. Those TV and Movie heroes, like Wyatt Earp, were Brave, Courageous, and Bold and as children we idolized their characters.

What does this have to do with Palm Sunday and the Road to Jerusalem? Actually, it has a lot to do with it. Jesus of Nazareth displayed those character traits of Brave, Courageous, and Bold that day nearly 2000 years ago when He entered Jerusalem on the colt of that donkey.

Letís set the scene. Letís go back to Luke 9:18 -26. The road we are traveling is going to lead to suffering, rejection, and death that will ultimately result in resurrection. Who is with me? Who wants in? Who wants a piece of this? Decide now.

Luke 9:51- The time is approaching, there has to be show down at the OK Corral. Jesus steadfastly sets His face to go to Jerusalem. For Him there is no turning back. He came for this show-down. For man to have peace and forgiveness and freedom, death has to be conquered. He alone can do that. It has to happen or man has no hope for any forgiveness, no hope against evil; no hope in the face of death; no hope for eternity.

Luke 18:31-34 Ė 20 miles north of Jerusalem near Jericho, He reminds them again of the game plan; but they didnít get it. He then gives sight to Bartimaeus; has dinner with Zaccheaus; tells the parable of the Minas which hints at His returning to heaven before He receives a kingdom and how that many of the subjects of the kingdom will say, "We will not have this man rule over us." These eventually will be slain before Him when He returns. He then goes south to Bethany where He is probably staying with Simon the Leper or with Lazarus for the Passover. Yesterday, a dinner was given at Simonís house to honor and say, "Thank You," to Jesus. This morning, Jesus sends two of His disciples to fetch a donkey and her colt from a friend as He is about to ride into town for the show-down. The next 24 hours will portray one of the greatest acts of courage ever. Notice the 4 parts of these 24 hours and realize we wonít be able to touch on everything.

I. His Courage for His Purpose (19:29-40) Ė John tells us that in one sense Jesus is now an outlaw. There is a price, so to speak, on His head (John 11:50, 57 cp. Matt. 26:3-5; Luke 19:47). Jesus could have entered Jerusalem at night. He could have gone in disguised. He could have taken a back door, but He didnít. With His face set, He would fulfill His mission. He came for a purpose. He would make God known, He would teach truth, and He would give His life to rescue helpless people. He would give man, every opportunity to make a right decision about who He is and to receive the offer of grace from God. Coming into town in broad day light on the colt of donkey was deliberate. It was a declaration of Who He is. For 3-4 years, He, and John the Baptist and the disciples of Jesus had preached that the kingdom of God was at hand, imminent, close by, just around the corner. Riding that colt said, "I am your King and Lord; I am the King of Glory that Psalm 24 and Zech 9:9 speaks of." One preacher said that Jesus had entered Jerusalem many times as a boy, as a worshipper, as a teacher, but until now, not as a king. Using their coats and shirts for him to sit and ride on was what people did for royalty to prevent them from being soiled with the dust of the ground. The people who were anxious for political freedom understood the symbolism of the donkey and that is why they used their clothing and quoted the 118th Psalm as they worshipped Him with great joy. And Jesus accepted their worship. They were anticipating a King to rescue them from Rome and from political and religious oppression of Herod and the temple leaders in Jerusalem. By riding that donkey, in broad day light towards the front door of Jerusalem, Jesus was forcing the leaders to make a public decision as to who He is. Ken Gire wrote in His book, Intense Moments with the Savior, "In so coming Jesus forces the hand of the aristocracy. After this public act, they would have to cast a public vote, No more meetings behind closed doors. No more plotting in private. They would have to come out in the open. They would have to confess Him or curse. Crown Him or kill Him." Their response, "Tell your disciples to stop this." But our Lord said that even the Rocks knew who He was. The Implication is that their hearts were harder than these rocks. This is Hero Courage. This is courage that would face death head on and keep going. God had a purpose for His life and He would fulfill it no matter what. God has a purpose for your lives too. The modern philosophies say to abandon that purpose and focus on what you want. It takes guts; it takes raw courage to say, I will complete the plan that God has for my life, no matter the costs or what others do.

II. His Grief over His Rejection (19:41-44). Having told the story of the Minas, Jesus knew that as a whole He had been rejected by the people He loved. John began His gospel with words like this in the first chapter of His book. "He came unto His own and His own received Him not, but as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of GodÖ" (John 1:11-12). Before, they reach the gates of the city we see the heart of God as we havenít seen it before. We have been told by Isaiah that Jesus would be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and though we know He grieved, here we see it displayed. Twice we are told that Jesus wept. The first time was a few weeks earlier at the grave of Lazarus. The text says, "Jesus wept." The wording used means that He tear-ed up. Like I did a few days ago when I listened to a young man speak of the death of his 16 year old son. I felt His pain and my eyes tear-ed up. But the word used in v. 41 means uncontrollable sobbing, bawling, shoulder shaking, wailing with emotional pain, crying over Jerusalem. He loved these people. He had healed them, feed them, taught them, ministered to them and He loved them deeply. He had high hopes and plans for them. But after all that, they as a whole said, "We will not have this man rule over us."

Though we have intentionally not talked about it these last 9 months, Debbie and I know exactly what this pain feels like as we have had times of uncontrollable weeping over people that we have dearly loved, taught, shared their joys, and ministered to in their pain, only to feel their rejection, and knowing it doesnít make any sense. We knew the plans we thought God wanted us to accomplish there. It is hard to ride through the town or see the building or see the folks in public without feeling the pain come back like a flood. Perhaps you do too. This is why we are going to walk through the study of forgiveness for the 7 weeks after Easter.

There are several reasons for this expression of His emotional pain.

  1. They had refused to receive Him and therefore had refused:
    1. Peace with God that comes with forgiveness (Rom. 5:1)
    2. The Peace of God that comes with communion with God (Phil. 4:6-7)
    3. Justification by Faith which brings escape from Judgment (Rom. 5:9-10; John 5:24). He knew that those who rejected Him had chosen self righteousness over grace; and hell over heaven.
  2. They had rejected Righteousness and chosen to remain in their sin condition and experience all the misery that sin results in; to experience pain, sickness, inhumanity, greed, rebellion, pride, hypocrisy and so much more with out any hope. He sees the helplessness, the hopelessness, the tired souls of men. He sees the need for help and His soul wants to be that help and man as a whole has said, "We will not have this man reign over us."
  3. They had hardened their hearts to desire empty religion over a passionate relationship with God as we will see in verses 43-44; 45-46. Look at Mark 3:5. The hardness of their hearts grieved Him as they would rather see a man suffer in pain than to receive help on the Sabbath day.
  4. By the way, Ephesians 4:30 implies that there is something else that grieves His heart. That is when His children donít treat each other with the same grace that He has given to us. May we live our lives in such a way that we never have to hear Him say, "You broke my heart."
  5. The results of their rejection are that:
    1. Their refusal to see would result in permanent blindness (v. 42)
    2. Their hardness and blindness would result in God again taking them out of the land as He promised He would in Leviticus 27:32-39. Jesus knew that in about 35 years in 70 A.D., Rome would lay siege to Jerusalem before completely leveling the city and brutally killing between 600,000 and a million men, women, and children because they had rejected Jesus and that meant they rejected God (1 John 2:23; John 5:23 "that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.")

III. His Anger over Their Hypocrisy (vv. 45-46, cp. Mark 11:11-17)

Mark tells us that Jesus went into the temple saw what was going on and left as it was getting late. He returned to where he was staying in Bethany. What He had seen had angered Him. The Temple had become a market place. Historians tell us that Annas, the former high priest and head of the local Mafia had found a way to turn religion into a profitable business.

At this time of year Jews would come to Jerusalem from all over the world to keep the Passover.

Two things had to be done at Passover:

  • All the males ages 20 and up had to pay a temple tax. The tax had to be paid in Jewish or Tyrian coin. (Ex. 30:13-14) People who traveled there would exchange their currency for this coin. Like when we go to Mexico, we have to exchange our dollars for pesos.
  • A spotless lamb would be sacrificed for each house or family. Those who traveled from distant places would often not bring their sacrifices but would purchase it there or the priest would declare the lambs brought in as unworthy and the people would have to buy another one.

When our Lord came up for this Passover, He noticed at least 3 things that were way wrong.

  1. The money exchangers were charging outrageous prices for exchange. It was like paying 50 cents for a dollar. Give me your dollar and Iíll give you 50 cents.
  2. The same was true for the sacrifices. Itís kind of like the difference in buying two hot dogs and a coke at Sheets and paying maybe $3 total and buying the same at Oriole Park and paying $12 total. Instead of assisting the people to worship, it was a time of profiteering.
  3. The third thing was that this was taking place in a court of the temple called the Court of the Gentiles, a place that was designated for non-Jews who believed in the One True God to come and worship. Thus they could not worship, because the Temple had become a mall of rented spaces where merchants sold their wares and on top of their rent gave a percentage of their profits and the religious leaders were lining their pockets. This was supposed to be a house of prayer, where anyone could meet with God, but instead of providing a place for people to pray; it had become a place to prey on people.

Our Lord went in and drove the hucksters out, turning their tables over and releasing the animals and not letting anyone carry any merchandize through the temple. This was a place to meet with God and pray as He quotes Isa. 56:7; and Jeremiah 7:11.

Listen God is Zealous and Jealous for a relationship with those He loves. He hates religion and hypocrisy. He hates people pimping religion for profit. He hates it when we go through the motions of worship and donít connect with Him in our spirits (Isa. 1:11-15; Amos 5:21-24; John 5:24).

IV. His Compassion for Peopleís Needs (v. 47, Matt. 21:12-13). While the nation as a whole rejected Him, individuals were still responding to His teachings of truth about God, salvation, worship, and more. Matthew says that the blind and lame came to Him in the temple to be healed. He taught them and healed them there in the temple because He had compassion on them. He still has that same compassion for anyone who would be willing to receive Him.

V. A Highly emotional 24 hours for our Savior on the Road to Jerusalem. What can we learn from this?

  1. It takes courage to complete the purpose that God has laid out for us. Courage is not the absence of fear, it is confronting fear and going on in spite of it. I want to challenge you as men and women who have decided to follow Jesus. Look in the Book, what is Godís purpose for you as man or as a woman? What is Godís role and purpose for you as a parent or a grandparent? Be determined; set your face steadfastly to accomplish it. The world will tell you that that you should ignore those archaic ways and think of what you want. Had Jesus followed that wisdom, we may not have the hope we have today. As we learned in Menís Fraternity, it takes courage to stand up to passivity, accept responsibility, lead courageously, and trust God for the results. But that is what He is calling you to do men and women of God. The movie Courageous challenged us to do that. Here is a question; will your legacy include the words, Brave, Courageous, and Bold?
  2. Jesusí heart was broken because of the effects of sin in this world. God wants you to see the world through His eyes. See the pain, the hunger, the dirty water, the deep poverty, and let that break your heart enough to move you to want to do something to change it. Though He knew most would reject Him, He came with compassion and died for those who would receive Him, and we are recipients of His grace as a result. He told us to pray for God to raise up people with the passion and compassion in Ma. 9
  3. Keep your love relationship with God passionate. If you are married you should still date your spouse and keep the passion alive. God wants you to do the same thing with Him. Talk to Him daily, plan and look forward to your Sundayís or small groups, read His book and tell Him you love him through out the week. Introduce your friends to Him.
  4. No matter what happens, never stop serving God by serving the people God sent His Son to die for.

Do you know Him? May I introduce you to Him today?

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman