Sunday, March 24, 2013

Countdown to Resurrection


Today the western Christian world celebrates Palm Sunday. This marks the beginning of the most important week of the Christian faith. This is the week Jesus was crucified for the sins of all mankind.

A little more than 500 years before Christ gave His life on the Cross of Calvary, God raised up a prophet named Zechariah. Jews and Christians alike revere Zechariah as a true prophet of God who spoke concerning the coming of Messiah and the last days.

Often prophecies are given to point us in the right direction and to pre-validate milestones along the way so that we can better discern and confirm the times and seasons in which we live. One such prophecy found among the writings of Zechariah clearly points to Messiah.

Zechariah 9:9  “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Why the religious leaders, the scholars, the well studied rabbis and/or the High Priest of Jesus’ day did not see this coming and embrace Jesus as Messiah is beyond my comprehension. Never had a more clear word been given and a more perfect fulfillment of that word been observed than this particular prophecy.

As I said, today the western Christian faith celebrates Palm Sunday. This is the Sunday which remembers Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem riding that little donkey, just as had been prophesied more than 500 years earlier. The fulfillment account is well recorded in the Gospels.

The chief priests of that day and the religious leaders were men who had given themselves to the study of the Law and the Prophets. They, more than anyone else, should have recognized what was going on around them and the part they were playing in this unfolding plan of God. You see, the Prophet Zachariah did not only speak concerning this King on a donkey, which was odd enough in its fulfillment, but Zechariah also prophesied concerning other critical factors which correctly described what was going on right before their very eyes and confirmed Jesus as the Christ.

More about Zechariah’s prophecies in a moment but first allow me to catch us up on the Gospel accounts concerning the occurrences of this week in history.

Mark 11
7  Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it.
8  And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
9  Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: "Hosanna! ’Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’

As Jesus was nearing Jerusalem, a few days before Passover, He sent two of His disciples to loose and bring a young colt, the foal of a donkey, upon which He rode in a triumphant processional from the Mount of Olives to the Temple Mount. The multitude laid tree branches, often referred to as “palms” in the way and cried saying, “Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.”

The religious leaders complained but felt there was nothing they could do in the face of those who were leading the cheers. The processional concluded at the Temple into which Jesus entered and overturned the tables of the money changers and those who had made the House of God a den of thieves.

Jesus spent the week days in Jerusalem teaching His followers about the Kingdom of God while the evenings were mostly spent in Bethany with friends.

Matthew 26
6 ¶  And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper,
7  a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table.

One such evening Jesus and His disciples were having dinner and a woman opened an alabaster box of costly fragrant oil and poured it on His head. She also anointed His feet and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the beautiful fragrance.

John 12
4  Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said,
5  "Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?"
6  This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.

Judas Iscariot complained:”Why was this costly perfume wasted and not sold for the poor?” Not because he cared for the poor but because he was a thief and wanted the money for himself. The oil was worth about $40 in that day’s money. Jesus rebuked Judas and let it be known that she had done a good thing and anointed His body against the day of His burial. Judas left the house upset about the loss of money he felt somehow entitled to and immediately sought how he could make up that money.

Matthew 26
14  Then Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests
15  and said, "What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?" And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver.
16  So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Jesus.

Thirty pieces of silver ??? What an odd price … the price paid to absolve responsibility in the death of another man’s servant according to the Law recorded in Exodus 21:32.

This is where the chief priests should have awakened to the fact that they were players in an already settled prophecy concerning Messiah. This is the price specifically spoken of by the prophet Zechariah.

Zechariah 11
12  Then I said to them, "If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain." So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.
13  And the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potter"  — that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter.

How blind can we get to the things around us … Things which God has already spoken to us about in His Word … Things written and studied for centuries … Just how blind can we be???

This 30 Shekels of silver was the equivalent of $15. I suppose since Judas could not get the $40 he felt entitled to from the oil Jesus wouldn’t let him have, he decided to get whatever he could from betraying Jesus to His enemies and selling Jesus out! $15 … that’s all it was … Judas betrayed Jesus for $15 and then he didn’t even get to keep it … I guess Judas should have been better studied in the Word, Will and Ways of God himself and he could have called that one beforehand. $15 …

You might say, “Pastor, are you telling me that Judas sold Jesus for $15?” No … No … No … not in any way did Judas sell Jesus for $15. You see, Jesus was not for sale that night in the Garden! Oh no!!!

Jesus was not selling … Jesus was buying!

Jesus, the Lamb of God, was not the one for sale, Judas sold himself, and for what? Thirty shekels of silver … only $15 – and even then he later casts that into the House of God which only goes to teach us that in the end:

We are worth nothing without Jesus – but – We are worth everything to Him

And, BTW … Jesus is not for sale today either … you are … and Jesus is buying.

Don’t sell yourself cheap …
·        Not for Gold, Glory, Power, or Position
·        And you should sell yourself to the highest bidder
·        Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords
·        He gave everything, even His own life for you!
·        Recognize the times in which we live and come to Christ!