Devotional thoughts based on the chronology of the Passion Week
While the kingdoms of this world wrestle with one another for power and control, thereby increasing global turmoil, there is one kingdom whose citizens know Who truly and sovereignly reigns over all kingdoms. His name is Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ.
Yesterday, the Christian church celebrated Palm Sunday, remembering how Jesus triumphantly entered the city of Jerusalem, riding on a colt on which no one had ever sat. This action by Jesus was His public declaration to the people of Israel that He was their Messiah and King.
It is interesting to note that in the weeks leading up to the first Palm Sunday, multitudes of Jews throughout the country and neighboring regions, had entered Jerusalem in preparation to celebrate the annual Passover Feast. The population of the city swelled as Jews sought accommodations for the week-long celebration.
On Palm Sunday, multitudes of Jews gathered to watch the procession of the Paschal lambs. Many of these sacrificial lambs were carried on the shoulders of the priests, who walked from Bethany to Jerusalem, which was only a couple miles away.
Jesus followed behind the procession. When the Jewish multitudes saw Jesus riding on a colt, they recognized Zechariah’s prophecy was being fulfilled before their eyes (Zechariah 9:9). With great joy and passion, the multitudes spread out their garments and branches from the palm trees on the road before Him crying out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of YHWH! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9); thus, Palm Sunday.
As the day ended, Jesus entered the temple with His disciples, looked around at all the activities happening inside the temple, and left because it was late in the day, returning to Bethany (Mark 11:11), the home of His dear friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (John 12:1-2).
MONDAY, SPRING A.D. 30
Two significant events occurred on Monday, the day after Palm Sunday:
The first event occurred early in the morning. Jesus and His disciples left Bethany and returned to Jerusalem. Being hungry, Jesus came upon a fruitless fig tree and cursed it (Matthew 21:18-19; Mark 11:12-14). But why? Did Jesus “wake up on the wrong side of the bed?” Is Jesus having a temper tantrum? Of course not.
Lesson: The absence of fruit on the fig tree is a picture of Jesus’ cleansing judgment. Just as Jesus was looking for fruit to eat, Jesus also looks for fruit from His people. If God’s people are fruitless [as were the spiritual leaders of Israel], it is because they were lacking submission to God. The elders and priests of Israel knew Jesus was the Son of God but refused to submit to Him. Therefore, where there is no submission to God, there is the absence of fruit unto God.
The second event occurred later that morning when Jesus arrived at the temple. Immediately, Jesus began driving out the merchants who had “set up a temporary place of business,” buying and selling animals that were to be sacrificed. Outraged, Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers, the seats on which the merchants conducted their business, and would not permit anyone to carry their wares through the temple. This was the second-time Jesus cleansed the temple. The first time Jesus cleansed the temple occurred three years earlier, at the beginning His earthly ministry (John 2:13-22).
Lesson: The absence of prayer in the house of God [The Temple in Jerusalem] also resulted in a cleansing judgment. Instead of fulfilling God’s purpose for the Temple – “For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations…” (Isaiah 56:7b), the Jewish leadership used God’s house of prayer as a place to further enrich their wealth instead of evangelizing the Gentiles with God’s message of salvation (Isaiah 56). They were only concerned for themselves. Therefore, where there is no submission to God, there is the absence of prayer unto God and outreach to the lost.
When we are not in submission to God, we become fruitless pertaining to the things of God (e.g. prayerlessness, faithless, even bitterness because of our inability to manage our lives). Therefore, we no longer exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. Check out Galatians 5:16-26.
Moreover, if we are to see positive changes in our lives and experience the blessings of God, we must become “poor in spirit” – that is, to humble ourselves before God and His Word. Only then will God look upon sinners and disobedient saints who recognize their spiritual poverty, express a contrite spirit, and tremble at God’s Word (Isaiah 66:2b).
Submission to God enables the people of God to fulfill the mission of God. What’s missing? Is it the fruit of the Spirit or is it submission to God? I believe it is both; however, it begins with our submission to God.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sacrificing Your Son as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. Father, because of Your grace and mercy, You have washed our sins away with the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ. You have pardon us of all our sins and have marked out our course in this life. Help us today to keep in step with the Holy Spirit so that we may fulfill Your will and exhibit much fruit as You conform each of us into the image of Your Son. Amen.
May this prayer resonate in your heart for the glory of God and your well-being, along with the following hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessings” (Celtic Worship)