What happened after Jesus preached his great Sermon on the Mount? He got busy!
After teaching everyone how to live the way that God intended for us, he came down the mountainside. Jesus had just taught the blueprint for life, and now he set about showing his disciples what it looks like when you really live this way.
Jesus first action after preaching the sermon was to heal a leper. Then Jesus returned to Capernaum, where a Roman officer asked him to heal a servant. Capernaum was the main base of his activities in Galilee, and Jesus stayed in Peter’s home there.
Matthew 8:14-16 says, “When Jesus arrived at Peter’s house, Peter’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. But when Jesus touched her hand, the fever left her. Then she got up and prepared a meal for him. That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and he healed all the sick.”
From then on Jesus healed person after person as he travelled around Galilee. He gave sermons, and he probably repeated often his teaching of the sermon on the mount. He performed many miracles and gathered disciples.
And then he decided to go south, to Judea, and began his final journey to Jerusalem. On their way south, Jesus and his disciples passed through the hostile territory of Samaria.
It was here that he met a Samaritan woman and she repented and believed. This is typical Jesus, showing us how to live out his teachings by blessing one of his enemies.
Jesus then makes his way to Jericho, where he meets Zaccheus. By this time he has begun telling his followers that he is going to be mocked, tortured and killed at the end of this journey, but they cannot understand what he means. Luke 18:34 says, “They didn’t understand any of this. The significance of his words was hidden from them, and they failed to grasp what he was talking about.”
Eventually they reached Bethany, which was Jesus’ base in Judea. He stayed in the home of Mary and Martha and Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead.
It was at this time that Jesus made a great effort to correct some wrong thinking among his followers. Due to their misunderstanding and confusion, many had come to see this progress toward the capital in the wrong way. They thought that Jesus was the Messiah and therefore he was marching on Jerusalem to claim his throne by power and topple the government. They thought he was leading a political rebellion and would overthrow the Romans and the Jewish leaders.
Luke 19:11 says, “Because he was nearing Jerusalem, he told them a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away.”
Today is the anniversary of this day. It is the day Jesus entered Jerusalem. We call it ‘Palm Sunday’. Jesus entered in triumph, riding victoriously on a donkey. There was much cheering and rejoicing among the disciples and spectators, but Jesus himself was crying because they had all missed the point. And we know that by Friday he will be crucified dead and buried.
When we look at Jesus’ life, we can see a broad picture of his progress toward this moment. If we zoom out even further there are other pictures we can see. One is the picture of God becoming king.
After he rescued his people from Egypt, God had them construct him a tabernacle where he could live among them. When the tabernacle was dedicated, Exodus 40:34 says, “The glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.”
Later on, when they had settled in the Promised Land, they stopped following God and he left the tabernacle. After he again rescued his people, God had them build him a temple.
2 Chronicles 7:1 explains what happened when the temple was dedicated: “When Solomon finished praying, fire flashed down from heaven and burned up the burnt offerings and sacrifices, and the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple.”
Later on they stopped following God, and there were exiles and tragedies for God’s chosen people. The temple in Jerusalem is a shell. It is empty. God is not there, and the people are longing for God to come back again and rescue them and be their king.
And now, today, the king is come. But he hasn’t come to fill the temple as he did before.
He has come in flesh to die.
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the 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,
“Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”
Only a king would be greeted this way (2 Kings 9:13), and the people wanted Jesus to be their king.
Most of the people did not understand what kind of king Jesus would be. They expected their Messiah to be a great political and military leader who would free them from the tyranny of the Roman Empire. But the kingdom of God is not of this world. It is a spiritual kingdom that is now growing in the hearts of people who put their faith and trust in God.
Jesus went straight to the temple, and he found it defiled. He turned over the tables of the money lenders and then went back to Bethany. Every day for the last week of his life on earth, Jesus commuted from Bethany to the temple in Jerusalem and preached to the people. They didn’t like what he said and turned against him. By Friday the same people who had waved palm fronds were demanding that he be killed.
From start to finish, this is a story of God coming to set up his kingdom and of his people rejecting him.
We have to ask ourselves, what will we do when God comes to us and asks if he can set up his throne and establish his kingdom in our midst. Will we let him?
As Jesus lived out the words of his teaching, healing and loving and forgiving, he was betrayed and questioned and doubted and mocked.
Today he comes to you and asks you to let him be king in your heart.
Will you doubt him and question his authority, or will you welcome Jesus?
Just before he was arrested, Jesus went back to Bethany and the Mount of Olives. There he prayed for us, so that we would not be overcome by temptation. And in his suffering and anguish an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him.
You will be tempted to reject Jesus, you will be tempted to trust your own ideas and to reject the ways of Jesus, but Jesus prays that you will be strengthened as he was and that you will not be overcome by these temptations to betray him.
You are the temple of the living God, and he wants today to fill his temple with his glory.
Jesus is calling you to welcome him into your heart and enthrone him as king of your life. From today, from this moment, I urge you to submit to his divine authority. To allow him to show you how to live the way of perfection. Without him we are empty tabernacles, white washed tombs.
Palm Sunday is a day to welcome Jesus as our king. Hallelujah!