12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 "Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!" 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, "You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him." John 12:12 -19 (ESV)
Jesus prepares for his royal entry. Jesus and his Disciples went to Bethpage, which was near Bethany (approximately 2 miles east of Jerusalem) to the Mount of Olives. A great crowd of people followed him and they were probably people taking their pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. According to the historian Josephus, there was one Passover where over two million people participated in Jerusalem. We are not sure if this was the normal crowd or not, but there was certainly a large gathering of people present at this time. Once Jesus drew near the Mount of Olives he sent two disciples to go into town and get a colt and bring it to him. The Gospel of Matthew states that this all takes place to fulfill the words of the prophet Zechariah 9:9. This passage is believed to be a prophecy about the coming King of Zion or the Messiah. In the prophecy the people of Israel are told to rejoice and shout because the King is coming soon. They are called to rejoice because He is a righteous king who brings salvation. This king will be a gentle and humble king and it will be evident because he will be riding on a colt’s donkey. Jesus was the TRUE king and He could have ridden in on a war horse, instead he chose to be a King of peace and humility.
As Jesus rode into Jerusalem the people began shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” The word Hosanna in the Greek transliteration is “Save us!” Their shouts were an exclamation of exaltation, praise, and rulership.
The praises of the people were reflected by the words of Psalm 118:25, 26. This Psalm is one of many Egyptian Hallel or praise psalms to remember God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt. These Psalms were chanted, recited, and sung during Passover and other major festivals and feasts. As the people shouted they also put their cloaks and palm branches on the ground for Jesus to walk on. This was a sign of honor and the palm branches symbolized victory. According to theologian N.T. Wright, “They waved branches they’d cut from the trees to make a celebratory procession for him. This carried royal implications. In the long folk memory of Jerusalem and its surrounding villages, stories were still told, and some of them by this stage were written down, about the famous Judas Maccabaeus who, 200 years before, had arrived in Jerusalem after conquering the pagan armies that had oppressed Israel. He, too, was welcomed into the city by a crowd waving palm branches. And he was the start of a royal dynasty that lasted for over a hundred years.”
As you begin to prepare for Palm Sunday, what are some ways that you can express your praise and worship to Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of your life?
 Wright, N.T. (2004) Matthew For Everyone Part Two p. 67 Westminster John Knox Press
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 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. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 “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.’” 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 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!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” Matthew 21:1 – 11 (ESV)
On the Christian calendar year we observe two major holy days to commemorate our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are Christmas and Easter. On December 25th (although this isn’t really the day he was born) we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ who came into the world as a human. We recount the Nativity story of Joseph, Mary, little baby Jesus, the star, the Magi, and the shepherds which is our background for this special day. During Christmas we rejoice that God in human flesh came as the man Jesus and dwelt among us to show us the way to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Easter is the time of reflection of the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is a time we are reminded of the painful and gruesome death Jesus endured to atone for our sins. It is also a time to celebrate the truth that Jesus didn’t stay dead; he rose from the grave, He is alive today and seated at the right hand of God the Father.
The time of Lent signifies the sacred 40-day preparation of the believer for the Easter season. We also observe a day one week prior to the resurrection called Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday will happen on the last day of this week. This day ushers in the time called “Holy Week.” In addition to today’s Gospel of Matthew reading about Palm Sunday, you will read for the next two days from two other Gospel accounts, one in the Gospel of John and one in the Gospel of Mark. For the remainder of this week we will look at some of these Gospel readings
so we can see and celebrate the significance of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry.
Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” John 12: 1 – 8 (ESV)
Six days before Passover, Jesus goes to Lazarus’s house. A meal is prepared, and He is anointed with a very expensive perfume by Lazarus’s sister Mary. She uses her hair to wipe his feet. We see this as an act of worship on Mary’s part. In this worship she declares the value of Christ to her. The perfume she used could have been sold for a year’s wages, so this was a very costly act of worship. Mary was declaring that there is nothing more valuable to her than Jesus.
The Disciple Judas questions the “wastefulness” of this expensive oil. He had no care for the poor, he was just a greedy thief. He tried to spiritualize his short-sightedness by stating they could have used the funds to give to the poor, but John tells us he didn’t care for the poor. This scene is applicable to us today. How often do we spiritualize what we think should be done, so we can get our own way? Sometimes people will misuse scripture or manipulate situations, so they can stop something that they don’t want to happen, and they do it under the guise of being spiritual. This is short-sighted and is far from spiritual. When this is done people are not seeing the situation with eyes of faith and worship, nor do they appreciate the value of Christ and see that he is worth the investment; instead, they promote what seems logical, sensible and reasonable as an excuse to manipulate a situation for their benefit themselves. This is what Judas was trying to do.
Jesus rebukes Judas. He tells him to leave Mary alone, because what she is doing is a good thing. He says there will always be opportunities to serve the poor and meet their needs, but what Mary is doing at this time supersedes the needs of the poor.
So, what can we learn from this passage?
49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation,52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. John 11:49 – 52 (ESV)
In response to the Jewish authorities concerns, the High Priest Caiaphas spoke words that rang true and I believe he had no idea how true his words were. He concluded that if Jesus dies, the nation of Israel will be saved. He thought if they disposed of Jesus. then Rome would have no reason to come and take their land and ultimately peace would continue. Yes, Jesus’ death would in fact save the nation of Israel from destruction, but not in the way they were thinking. Jesus’ death would bring salvation for to all who believed. The death of Jesus was inevitable, it was God’s plan of restoration. Calvary was God’s Plan A from the beginning. There was no Plan B, C, or D.
The Jewish authorities concluded that Jesus must be killed. Jesus finds out about this plot to kill him, so he goes to Ephraim, which is about a 15-mile journey from Jerusalem and located close to the wilderness. This change of location was probably strategic in case he needed to escape to the wilderness if the authorities sought him out.
The timing of all of this is not coincidental. Passover was on the horizon and this is the chief Holy day of three annual festivals for the Jews. Chapter 12 is a detailed account of God's liberation of Israel from Egypt. This Passover was a continual reminder that God passed over the Israelites when he executed the tenth and final plague on Egypt. He gives specific instructions to the Israeltites in preparation of this mass departure from Egypt. Each home is to take a lamb, without blemish and kill it on the 14th day of Abib, which would be March or April. They would drain the blood and take some of the blood to put on the door posts of the house. The lamb was to be roasted over a fire and eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The meal was to be eaten with their belts fastened, sandals on and staff in hand, because it will be eaten in haste. The blood on the doorposts would be a sign to God to pass over the home and no plague would befall the household.
This Passover meal was instituted as a yearly celebration to commemorate what the LORD had done in setting the people of Israel free from slavery. The institution of this observance is to show God's love for His people, Israel and they are to remember this until the end of time. The Passover was and remains a highly significant observance, not only to the Jewish nation, but to us Christians as well. Passover reminds us that Jesus was the perfect Lamb, without blemish, who was sacrificed in our place. His shed blood has the power to cleanse us of our sins and the power to protect us from the judgment of God. Through Jesus we are set free from the captivity of sin. Because of Jesus we are no longer slaves to sin, but now slaves to righteousness. The Jews figured Jesus would come for the ritual of cleansing in Jerusalem, so they devised a plot to arrest Jesus when He came.
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” John 11:45 – 48 (ESV)
Jesus has just performed one of his greatest miracles by publicly raising Lazarus from the dead. One would think that the crowd would have responded in amazement, belief and reverential awe for God, but instead it was mixed. Many of the Jews believed. These were not the Jewish leaders, but the text suggests these are the Jewish friends of Mary and Martha who had come to grieve the passing of their brother. Some left and went to the Jewish authorities and informed them of Jesus’ miracle.
It’s amazing as we read in verse 45 the two responses to the miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead.
12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John 10:12 – 18 (ESV)
The hired hand is not the same as the robber and thieves. He is the one who is in it for the pay, he does his job for the money. He isn’t concerned for the sheep as much as he is about receiving payment for the work. The hired hand has no investment in the fold and does not care genuinely as the shepherd. When things get rough for the hireling he leaves. He is not willing to give his life for the sheep. Jesus now says, “I am the Good Shepherd…” He knows those who belong to him. Take a moment and let that sink in. If you are a follower of Jesus, it is because He called you by name, He chose you to be part of His flock, and He willingly died for you so you can have eternal and an abundant life.
Jesus also informs his listeners, “I have sheep that are not of this fold…” and this would probably refer to Gentiles. The Jews thought salvation was reserved for them alone because they were God’s chosen race. However, Jesus tells us there are some who are not of this fold who will hear his voice and will respond. Thankfully, Jesus expands his folds to us who are not of the Jewish fold.
As you conclude today's devotional, I would encourage you to take some time and think about this passage. Think about how it fits into your life. Think about the willingness of Jesus to lay down his life for you. Think about how his sole purpose in coming to this earth was to show people the way to the Kingdom of God and provide a means of access to it. If you believe and have faith in Jesus Christ, be assured that you have been given eternal life and you have been given it in abundance.
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:7 - 11 (ESV)
Jesus informs the listeners that He is not the shepherd, at least in this instance, but He does
later refer to Himself as the good shepherd in verse 11. He is the door. Jesus affirms in verses
7 and 9 that He is the access to the fold. Nobody can have access to the fold without first
entering through the gate or the door. There are no other ways. Jesus is affirming the narrowness
of becoming a member of the fold. There is only one way to enter this fold and it is
Jesus says, “I am the door…” Theologian D.A. Carson writes, “Here the idea is not that Jesus
the shepherd draws out his own flock from a rather mixed fold, but that Jesus the gate is the
sole means by which the sheep may enter the safety of the fold or the luxurious forage of the
pasture… this is a proverbial way of insisting that there is only one means of receiving eternal
life – Jesus alone.” Anyone trying to enter the fold through any other means than through the
door (Jesus) will be cast out. Entrance through the door is synonymous to saving faith in Jesus
Christ. He is establishing the “ground rules”, if you will, to eternal life. For one to enter the
fold or becoming a believer one must first be called by the shepherd and then willingly submit
and commit to the shepherd, who is Jesus.
The thieves, or in this case the religious leaders have only come to destroy by manipulation,
power and control, but Jesus came to give life and to give it in abundance. Jesus didn’t just
give us enough life, so we can get through and when we die we get the goods. No, Jesus came
to give life TODAY and give it in abundance. We should live our lives today seizing the
opportunity to fully live for his glory and with joy! I personally know Christians who are just
living out their lives and waiting until they die; they only long for heaven so they can leave this
rotten world and truth be told most of them are miserable. We should all long for heaven, but
we should also live for Jesus today, tomorrow and in the years to come. Jesus hasn’t just given
us enough to just get through this life, He has given us an abundance and we should take every
opportunity to live for his glory.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. John 10:1 - 6 (ESV)
Shepherding is one of the oldest occupations in all of history. It is believed to have its beginnings around 6,000 years ago in Asia Minor. For many societies shepherding was important to the health of the economy.
Shepherds were largely nomadic people and lived solitary lives removed from society. The job of a shepherd in an unenclosed country like Palestine was very difficult. “In early morning he led forth the flock from the fold, marching at its head to the spot where they were to be pastured. Here he watched them all day, taking care that none of the sheep strayed, and if any for a time eluded his watch and wandered away from the rest, seeking diligently till he found and brought it back. In those lands, sheep require to be supplied regularly with water, and the shepherd for this purpose has to guide them either to some running stream or to wells dug in the wilderness and furnished with troughs. At night he brought the flock home to the fold, counting them as they passed under the rod at the door to assure himself that none were missing. Nor did his labours always end with sunset. Often, he had to guard the fold through the dark hours from the attack of wild beasts, or the wily attempts of the prowling thief.”
This background is given as it will help you understand better the context of this passage. Jesus talks about the work and love of a shepherd for his flock.
The chapter begins with Jesus saying, “Truly, truly” or some versions say “I tell you the truth, he who does not enter the sheepfold…” The sheepfold is the part of a home that has an uncovered but walled in area where the stables stood. This is where the shepherd would keep his flock and they would stay there at night, providing they were close to home. There was a normal door the shepherd would use to enter and exit which was guarded.
Anyone/anything who would attempt to enter the sheepfold by any other means than the door was there to steal, kill or harm the sheep. They would be entering illegally into an area with intent to harm and steal the sheep. The only person allowed to enter through the door is the shepherd with the sheep. At the door a gatekeeper is present, and he knows the shepherd and gives him access. The sheep belong to the shepherd and follow him because they know and trust he will watch over them, lead them and keep them safe. He is their master and they are devoted to him.
No matter how large the fold, the shepherd knows the names of each sheep and he calls them by their names. He has a close personal relationship and investment with his flock. The shepherd calls them, leads them and brings them out to pasture and water. He goes before the sheep to find green pastures for the sheep to eat and to find watering holes for the sheep to drink from. He keeps watch over the flock so nothing or no one can harm them. The sheep know the voice of their shepherd and they know he cares for them and he is committed to keeping them safe. The sheep know the shepherd’s voice and they will not follow a stranger. It doesn’t matter if the stranger knows their names they still will not follow. They don’t know the voice nor trust him. Jesus uses this figure of speech or metaphor and he confuses the religious leaders as they listen, and this confusion shows their spiritual blindness.
Easton, M. (1996, c1897). Easton's Bible dictionary. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter) 43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” John 1:35 - 51 (ESV)
I think we can take some of what we have read about in the past couple of days and apply it to our lives as to what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. What does a disciple of Christ look like? Does he/she have a certain look, or attitude about them? Is there a Christian disciple mold that we all fit into? I don’t think so. Christians are called to be disciples; we are called to be learners, students of His word and followers of the master, Jesus Christ. This means our faith must be proactive and not passive. This means we must continually grow in faith. I have been a believer for nearly 30 years, I have read the Bible numerous times, I had Bible training, I have read more books than I can imagine, and I have served in pastoral ministry for nearly 25 years and I am still growing, and I am still learning daily. We MUST continue to grow in faith and not allow our relationship with Jesus Christ to go stagnant.
Discipleship takes a lot of discipline and a lot of work. Here are three points as to what the life of a disciple can look like according to John 1:35 – 51.
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” John 1:43 - 51 (ESV)
The day after Jesus meets Andrew and Peter, He finds a man named Philip and He calls him to become a follower. Philip’s response to Jesus was like Andrew’s as he immediately goes out and finds Nathaneal and tells him about his encounter with Jesus.
Shortly after Philip finds Nathaneal he informs him that he has “found Him of whom Moses in the Law and the prophets wrote about.” His name is Jesus of Nazareth. Philip calls Jesus the “coming one” as written about in Deut. 18:15.
Nathaneal’s response is almost humorous in some ways, he replies “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” He doesn’t say, “Wow you found the Chosen One! Please take me to meet Him!” His contemptuous reply could be attributed to a local rivalry between Galilee and Nazareth or maybe their discord ran a little deeper. Regardless, we can know for certain he did not have high regards for this Nazarene at first.
Philip tells Nathaneal, “Come and see for yourself”? He didn’t spend time trying to talk Jesus up or prove that he was right; his response is the same that ours should be, “Come and see for yourself.” This is not only an invitation to meet Jesus but a challenge to put aside his prejudices and see beyond his origin of birth and see God’s bigger plan.
It is interesting to see Jesus’ response to Nathaneal when he says, “Now here is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Ironically, Nathaneal didn’t have good things to say about Jesus of Nazareth, but Jesus speaks wonderful words about Nathaneal and calls him a genuine man without hidden motives. Nathaneal asks, “How do you know me?” Jesus’ assessment of him must have been correct since he seemed to gain his attention. He must have been impressed by Jesus’ supernatural knowledge of him because he then addresses Jesus more respectfully and makes the claim that he is the Chosen One of Israel.
When Jesus hears Nathaneal’s response and claims, I can imagine Jesus saying, “Well, you have only seen a small part of what is yet to come. Buckle up man, because the ride is going to be wild.”
The imagery Jesus uses when he speaks to Nathaneal is taken from the vision their forefather Jacob had of a ladder (Genesis 28:10 -22). Once you read this account, you know it is a vision Jacob had of a ladder that reached to heaven. The angels of God ascended and descended on the ladder in this vision. The LORD stood at the top of the ladder and spoke a promise to Jacob about his descendants. Upon waking Jacob knew He met with God and he set up a pillar and called it Bethel which means The House of God. Jesus is saying that now the presence of God will be revealed through Him and no longer in the Temple. Certainly, Nathaneal and Philip could not grasp what Jesus was saying. I think the key words of Jesus are “You will see” and they did indeed! They will continue in their lives to see great and mighty works of Jesus Christ and through his life, His ministry, His death and resurrection.
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I currently live on the Gulf Coast of Florida with my beautiful family. The Lord has blessed me with over 25 years of full time ministry. He is and has been faithful.