Sunday, August 16, 2009

Authentic Worship – The Triumphal Entry

Luke 19 (John 12:12-19, Mark 11:1-11, Matthew 21:1-11)
[Worship is the act of showing adoration to one you consider to be worthy. Authentic worship occurs when we see God as he is, such that our thoughts and actions toward God, line up with the spiritual reality. All of the earliest worship experiences recorded in the Bible involved bowing down, to reverence God by humbling yourself. This is an outward reflection of the inward act of yielding your will to God's will.
-- Show video (Raiders Chapter 29) --
Not all acts of worship are authentic. When we worship things that are not God, or even when we honor God harboring other motives, or just with the outward expressions, not matched by a yielded heart, that is false worship.]
The Triumphal Entry

28 When He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples, 30 saying, "Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here.
31 And if anyone asks you, 'Why are you loosing it?' thus you shall say to him, 'Because the Lord has need of it.'"
32 So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. 33 But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, "Why are you loosing the colt?"
34 And they said, "The Lord has need of him." 35 Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. 36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road (II Kings 9:13).

[The symbolism of riding a donkey was to indicate peace instead of war, also fulfilled prophecy:

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.
       10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
      And the horse from Jerusalem;
      The battle bow shall be cut off.
      He shall speak peace to the nations;
      His dominion shall be 'from sea to sea,
      And from the River to the ends of the earth.'


The passage combines the two views of Messiah one as the source of salvation or the Lamb of God, the other as the King who would evict the Roman army and rule Israel on the throne of David. Because they didn't fully understand Jesus' death and resurrection, some thought savior and King might be different messiahs. Zechariah clearly links the King of the Jews as the source of salvation. Still many Jews were not concerned about salvation, they just wanted a King to free them from the Romans at that time. We see that earlier in Luke 19:

11 Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.

So Jesus told them the parable of the minas to show that the king was going away for a while, but would return to judge his servants and the citizens his kingdom. Zechariah 14 tells of the second coming of the King, and that will not be peaceful, as this appearing. Putting down their clothing in the path of Jesus is similar to how the people greeted Jehu in II Kings 9 when he was made King of Israel. Matthew 21:8 also says they cut down palm branches and laid those down with the clothing which is why we now call the Sunday before the resurrection Palm Sunday. The Palm branches were also symbolic of the most joyous of all the Feasts of the Lord, and that is the Feast of Tabernacles or booths.

Leviticus 23:39Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath.  40And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.  41And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.  42Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths:  43That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

The 7th month had 3 sacred feasts, Trumpets, Atonement, and concluding with Tabernacles where the celebrate God's provision both during the Exodus and the yearly harvest. During this feast of Tabernacles they would cut palm, willow and myrtle branches, and weaves them together to form a lean-too or booth, then they would live outside in the booths during the week-long feast.]

-- back in Luke 19 --
37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying:
      "'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!' (Psalm 118:26)
      Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples."
40 But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."

[So as Jesus was traveling in this procession riding the donkey, the crowd starts shouting praises

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord

Peace in Heaven, glory in the highest

Hosanna to the son of David, Hosanna in the highest (Matthew 21)

Blessed is the kingdom of our father David, that comes in the name of the Lord (Mark)

Hosanna is the Greek form of the Hebrew word Yasha-na meaning "save now". Much of this praise comes from Psalm 118, a song sung during the procession for the Feast of Tabernacles.

Psalm 118

Open to me the gates of righteousness;
         I will go through them, (John 10:7,9 Jesus said I am the door of the sheep)
         And I will praise the LORD.
 20 This is the gate of the LORD,
         Through which the righteous shall enter.
 21 I will praise You,
         For You have answered me,
         And have become my salvation.
The stone which the builders rejected
         Has become the chief cornerstone.
 23 This was the LORD's doing;
         It is marvelous in our eyes.
 24 This is the day the LORD has made;
         We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Save now, I pray, O LORD;
         O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
         We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.
God is the LORD,
         And He has given us light;
         Bind (Heb. Acar – prepare) the sacrifice with cords (Heb. Aboth – cords or branches) to the horns of the altar.

Once a sacrifice was bound to the horns of the altar, it would be killed and the blood used to cleanse the altar, the priests, and the temple, to receive the offerings of sacrifice. Moved by the spirit this crowd sung the Psalm to Jesus showing him to be their king, their salvation, and the sacrifice for sins. To the Jews who wanted a King but not a sacrifice, and to those today who want a savior but not a Lord and King, this passage inseparably links the two. Jesus can only be your savior if he is also your King, he can only be a King to those he has saved. You cannot separate the two.

Authentic worship comes from those who receive Jesus as savior and Lord, yielding themselves to God's purpose, to glorify the Son.]

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sacrificial giving – The anointing at Bethany

John 12 (Also Matthew 26 and Mark 14)

The Anointing at Bethany

 1 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead.

[Leading up to his betrayal, with the Pharisees and Priests seeking to take him, Jesus makes his way toward Jerusalem for the Passover, makes a stop in Bethany where he has many friends including Lazarus whom he raised from the dead.]

2 There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him.

[Both Matthew and Mark say that this supper was "at the house of Simon the leper". The men including Lazarus were reclining at the table eastern style at a low table usually seated on cushions with their feet curled behind them. Lazarus sister Martha was one of those who served the meal.]

3 Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

[Only John identified the woman as Mary the other two accounts to not identify here by name. As to which Mary this was John 11:2 says this was Lazarus sister who anointed Jesus. So Mary brings out a large container of very expensive oil or balm. This translation says it was a pound of the oil the Greek word is litra which is the same as our common Liter so we have about 34 ounces of this very expensive oil in an alabaster container.

Some translations say box some say flask, really neither word is in the original language, the Greek word is alabasteron, which is an alabaster container. Oriental Alabaster is a calcite deposit usually found in limestone caverns, it is usually white though there are other colors. If you put oil in a normal clay or stone jar the oil could permeate the pores or cracks and the outside of the container would be wet with oil wasting some of it. So for long term storage of a balm oil especially an expensive one they used alabaster because the oil would not permeate the alabaster, and the white color made a very pretty container.

As to the oil itself some translations say spikenard, others just say nard. Now there is a spikenard plant that grows in Nepal so it could be from that plant, but the Greek word is nardos referring to the Syrian city of Naardus from which they imported this fragrant oil, we call the most common form of this oil Lavender. This essential oil comes from the underground stems or spikes of the plant, that would be crushed to obtain the oil, it would take many plants and lots of manual labor to obtain a liter of oil which is why it was so expensive.

So Mary takes the alabaster container, Mark 14 says she broke flask or box, and poured it on Jesus' head, Matthew also says she anointed his head. Only John says she poured it on his feet. I think both are correct, since she had a liter of this oil, broke the container and used it all, the oil was likely poured from head to foot, anointing his whole body. Then in great humility she knelt at his feet, let down her hair, and used it to wipe the oil from the feet of her Lord. As she did this, the scent of the oil filled the room.]

4 But 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 reminds me of a pawn shop owner, he looks at this volume of lavender oil and immediately gives it a value of 300 denarii about one year's wages for a common laborer, over $20,000 in today's dollars. Judas complains that this oil should have been sold, instead of wasted, so the money could be given to the poor. Matthew and Mark say the other disciples were grumbling among themselves about this, and apparently Judas was the one who spoke up. John explains that Judas didn't really care for the poor, he wanted access to the money for himself.]

7 But Jesus said, "Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. 8 For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always."

[Jesus talking about his burial seems odd until you realize this was the week of his crucifixion. In Matthew and Mark Jesus says straight out, that she was anointing him for burial. So Jesus tells them your time with me is short, the poor will always be with you and you can show them compassion any time you want. This does not mean that Jesus did not have compassion for the poor, just that this week was to fulfill his mission. Nothing would distract him from fulfilling the plan for the redemption of mankind.]

Matthew 26:13 and Mark 14:9 conclude the story with Jesus own summary of Mary's sacrifice. "Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her."

[To this day Christians know the story of the alabaster box, and woman who wasted this treasure, as a sacrificial gift to the Lord. I can't help but contrast Mary with the Rich Young Ruler. He had wealth, power, and a fine reputation, but left unsaved, because he valued his wealth more than his soul. Mary took the most valuable thing she owned, broke it and poured it out without even asking, in a completely irrational act of love. She valued her earthly treasure as no better than bath water as it rolled down Jesus feet completely spent. All that remained is the love it conveyed, and the example it gave us. Is any gift too extravagant for the Son of God.]