Jerusalem

Hosanna!


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Jesus’ triumphal Entry into Jerusalem:

(Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19).

It was only one week before the historic Passover and the city of Jerusalem was crowded with pilgrims who had come there for the annual Passover celebration.

Jesus and His disciples would soon come to Jerusalem to take part in the festivities. They had been travelling for months; connecting with the towns and villages of Palestine. Everywhere Jesus went He preached the Kingdom of God and healed the sick.

As they journey to Jerusalem, Jesus warned His disciples that the time is come for Him to die, but after three days He would rise again.

So, as they came near Jerusalem, Jesus told two of His disciples to go into a nearby village and bring a donkey that would be waiting there. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Crowds of people spread their coats on the ground in front of Him. Some waved branches of palm trees, a sign of victory. The people shouted,
Hosanna!
Blessed is the one
who comes in the name of the Lord.

Who is your Neighbor?


Who is my neighbor? Many Christians struggle with this question. We know the answer, yet it is difficult for us to accept anyone outside of our family, religious, political and social circles as neighbor. Still, this backward thinking is not a new phenomenon. As a matter of fact, that is exactly how the religious leaders of Jesus’ time felt. They were wrong then, and you are wrong now.

Jesus was and is the ultimate teacher. He knows how to break things down so ordinary people can understand. Hence the reason He used the parable of the Good Samaritan to answer an expert in the Mosaic Law, when he asked: “Who is my neighbor?”

Here is how Luke describe the encounter: Luke 10:25-37, “25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 Jesus said to him, “What does the law say and how do you interpret it?”

27 The lawyer answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 And Jesus said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”

29 But he, wanting to prove himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Hallelujah


Psalm 51 is a prayer of repentance. David prayed this prayer when the prophet Nathan went to him, after he had gone into Bathsheba.

Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your loving-kindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.

Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday?


Sunday, March 24th is Palm Sunday in Christian tradition. Today Christians all over the world celebrate the day Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem on a donkey to shouts of, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

For many Christian churches, Palm Sunday, often referred to as “Passion Sunday,” marks the beginning of Holy Week, which concludes on Easter Sunday. Today is call Palm Sunday because the crowds covered Jesus’ path with branches of palm leaves as He rode by on the donkey. It was a joyous welcome.stdas0760[1]

The biblical account of Palm Sunday can be found in Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; and John 12:12-19.

Matthew 21:1-11
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what (Zechariah 9:9) the prophet foretold five hundred years earlier.

“Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. An extremely large crowd spread their cloaks on the road while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 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!”

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the city got stirred up and asked, “Who is this?”

The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Can you imagine the New Heaven and the New Earth?


The New Heaven and the New Earth According to John: Revelation 21

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold; the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Furthermore he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.  The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”

The New Jerusalem

The New Jerusalem

The New Jerusalem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come; I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11  having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates, the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed—13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. 18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold,clear as glass. 19  The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.

22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey


Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey

Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a special time of year for Jesus and His friends. A special celebration feast; the feast of the Passover, was coming up. It was kind of like our Thanksgiving. Lots of people traveled to the big city of Jerusalem to celebrate. Jesus and His friends were on their way there too.

The Triumphal Entry

Matthew 21:1-17

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,  saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.”  This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

 “Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”

 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them.  They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”  And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?”  And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.  He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.  But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,

“Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies
you have prepared praise’?”

And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.


Heaven is the new Jerusalem. Is it real?


The New Jerusalem

Image via Wikipedia

Many people believe heaven is a wishful fantasy that weak-minded people cling to in order to cope with, or escape from, the tough realities of life here on earth. Some assume that eventually everybody will end up in heaven. But others say very few people will make it there. And nearly all argument about heaven typically generate more heat that light and more controversy than understanding.

So much confusion! So many opinions! But why all these different opinions and theories when the Bible is full of details about heaven? Yes, God wants us to know what heaven is like so that we will want to be there! Heaven is not a place He is trying to keep secret from us.

According to a Harris poll taken in January of 2003, 82 percent of Americans believe that a heaven does exist. But the truth is that these days most people–including Christians spend very little time thinking about heaven. From the moment we wake up in the morning till we collapse  in exhaustion into our beds again at night, we’re running, going, doing, eating working and doing all manner of things.

Meanwhile we Christians believe that somewhere inconceivable in the universe is an unseen place that we’ve been taught about and it’s called heaven. It’s part of the distant future, not the here and now. And though we can see and touch the immediate environment we live in every day, heaven is out of sight and out of reach. Therefore, it hardly seem real. Besides, our lives move so fast and are so full that we can barely keep pace with what’s happening around us, much less stop to contemplate a place to which we’ve never been.

Part of the problem is what many of us typically believe about heaven leaves us considerable  less than impressed. What if, for example, you are just not into playing harps all day? What if fleecy white clouds and halos and singing in heavenly choir leaves you cold? And do you really have to run around in a white robe all the time?

Undoubtedly one reason so many of us have a hard time getting excited about eternity is that we carry around a stunted and juvenile view of heaven as a spectacular setting in which we float around endlessly doing bland things and “being holy.”

But John tell us exactly what heaven will be like. “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of the heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:1,2).

This city is not just something that John saw and know about–God’s people have been aware of it throughout the ages. God tells us that all of His holy prophets had spoken about God’s plan to deal with a sin damaged world. Peter told the people of old Jerusalem that God would “send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through His holy prophets” (Acts 3:20,21)