The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
Matthew 21:9 (NIV)
Read: Matthew 21:1-17
Consider: We are only a matter of weeks away from Easter when we celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection. This is a matter over which there has been divided opinion over the centuries. In today’s passage from Matthew 21, recording Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, we see that opinion about him was divided even in his day.
As Jesus entered Jerusalem he was accompanied by his disciples, but also by a very large crowd. We read: The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’ (Matthew 21:9). Upon entering Jerusalem we are told (21:10) that some people in the city were asking ‘Who is this?’, to which the crowds responded: ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee (21:11). While we would disagree with their summation of who Jesus is, they welcomed him into the city as God’s Messiah.
Moving on we come to the familiar passage where Jesus entered the temple and drove out the money-changers and those selling doves. In this passage (21:12-17) we encounter two groups of people who have very different reactions to what Jesus is doing. Firstly, there are the children who were: ‘… shouting in the temple courts, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’ (21:15). Their response to Jesus may just have been a reflection of what their parents and others in the crowd had been saying and shouting. Despite this, we read that it caused the chief priests and the teachers of the law to become indignant (21:15). If that had been the only thing that upset the religious elite we might understand, but notice what we are told: But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts. ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they were indignant. Did you notice that it says they: ‘… saw the wonderful things he did …’? The religious elite may well have been offended by the noise and chaos they saw in the temple courts, yet despite having seen the wonderful things Jesus did, their attitude hardened. This divided opinion about Jesus continued up to and beyond his death on the cross and his resurrection.
As we think of Easter and what it means to us as Christians, we will again be confronted with the facts about Jesus presented to us in the Bible. Earlier in Matthew’s Gospel we read of Jesus asking his disciples: ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ to which they replied: ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets’. This prompted Jesus to ask them: ‘But what about you?’ ‘Who do you say I am?’ and we read: Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’ (Matthew 16:13-16). However, despite this recognition of Jesus’ identity, Peter would later deny him three times when he was confronted in the courtyard of Caiaphas the high priest.
Pray: Father, we pray for all those who wrestle with the question of Jesus’ real identity. May they see in the evidence of the miracles he performed, the nature of his death and resurrection pointers to that fact that he is indeed your Son and our Saviour. Amen
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