Jerusalem Has a Question

Dr. Ray Pritchard
Dr. Ray Pritchard
2016 18 Feb

"When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, ‘Who is this?’” (Matthew 21:10)

Here we have a remarkable moment in history.
A whole city is thinking about Jesus.

As Jesus enters Jerusalem on Sunday of Passion Week, riding on a donkey, welcomed by cheering crowds, the people of the city don’t know what to make of it. Over many centuries, they thought they had seen it all, and they had, until Jesus showed up that day.

They had never seen anything like that.

The translators handle the city’s reaction in different ways. Jerusalem was

In an uproar,
In turmoil,
In shock,

What would happen today if Jesus came to London or Paris or Singapore or Delhi or Lagos or Rio or Berlin? Would those cities experience a similar reaction? What if Jesus came to Chicago or Miami or Honolulu or Houston or Boston? Would anyone notice? I’m sure someone would do a selfie with Jesus and post it on Instagram. Someone else would Tweet reactions from bystanders and compare it with reactions to Adele’s concert in New York: “Adele wows crowd, reaction to Jesus divided.” Both parts of that statement would be true.

Vast crowds in Jerusalem had gathered for the Passover. But as rumors about this rabbi from Nazareth swept the narrow streets, everyone had a theory. He was a good man; he was a fraud. He worked miracles; he faked it somehow. His followers understood him; No, they were deluded. Could he be the Messiah? That’s crazy talk. Why did he ride a donkey? Why did the people shout, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord?”

What can we learn from this citywide curiosity about Jesus? For one thing, it reminds us there is a God-shaped vacuum in every human heart. People want to know the God who made them, and nothing apart from God will ever fill that vacuum in the heart.

In that moment, crystallized in time, an entire city was thinking about Jesus. His destiny (and theirs—though they did not realize it) hung in the balance. That moment would not come again. It was a biblical “Day of Visitation” when God revealed himself in a powerful way to his people. In this case he sent his own Son who entered the city as King Jesus.

On Sunday the city was transfixed by Jesus.
On Friday he was crucified outside the city walls.

When Jesus came, God was “visiting” his people. He showed himself in word and in deed to be the mighty Son of God from heaven, the long-awaited Messiah. But his own people would not listen to him.

If we do not respond to God’s call, we will one day face his judgment.
If we brush aside his blessings, we will answer for it eventually.
If we think we have forever to say yes to Jesus, one day we will be rudely surprised.

It’s good to think about Jesus. It’s better to follow him.
It’s good to be excited about him. It’s better to commit your life to him.

One day long ago, a great city trembled with excitement when Jesus came to town. They even asked the right question: “Who is this?” But they never cared enough to discover the right answer.

Spiritual excitement is good, but only if it leads you to the truth.

Lord God, grant that our excitement will be matched by a desire to know the truth, lest we get stirred up and somehow miss Jesus altogether. Amen. 

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