Join us this week as we look toward the cross and the empty tomb-- Jesus' death and resurrection. Our posts this week will follow some of the events leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, as well as explore what these events and their implications mean to us. It all points to Jesus. While Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21; Mark 11; Luke 19; John 12) is exciting, it's also eerie. We rejoice when we think about people praising Jesus-- making Him a one man parade, waving palm leaves, laying their coats out on the ground before Him, shouting "Hosanna!" and expressing their joy that their rescuer was there, in front of them. Yet, merely days later, many of these same people were likely among a crowd with a much different response to Jesus. Instead of "Hosanna!," they would be shouting, "Crucify!" These people thought they knew who Jesus was, but they really had no idea.
Matthew 21 tells us that after Jesus entered Jerusalem, He went to the temple and started tossing the tables of the money changers and those buying and selling animals to be sacrificed. Not only was this taking place on temple grounds when it should have been done outside, but the fact that Jesus says they turned what should have been a house of prayer into a den of thieves implies that the fees for these goods and services were far higher than they should've been-- they were trying to make a profit.
Then, blind and lame people came into the temple (where they likely were not permitted) and Jesus healed them. Meanwhile, children were praising Him aloud. As was their standard response, the chief priests and scribes were upset by the praises and miracles taking place in the temple. They didn't realize that the one inciting these disturbances was the one for whose worship the temple existed.
The people in Jerusalem- during this particular Passover time had God literally, tangibly, physically with them. Some rejected Him outright and saw Him as a troublemaker, someone who was usurping their power in this false religion they'd created in the name of God. Some saw Him as Messiah and Savior, but they didn't understand what He was going to save them from or how He would do it. They thought He was with them to save them from Rome, from oppression and earthly struggle. Instead, He was with them to save them from their own sin and false religion. He was with them to serve, not overthrow. He was with them to fulfill, not add. He was with them to conquer sin and death, not to conquer their political enemies. He was with them (at this time) to die for them, not to rule over them on earth. He was with them to exalt the lowly, not pamper the mighty. He was with them to show them who He was, not to be who they expected Him to be.
Jesus being God with us means so much, but it doesn't always mean what we think it does. Jesus didn't just come to be with the people living in 30-something A.D. in these ways. When He came, it was to be with us, too. We can't let our own expectations and desires shape Jesus into a Savior we've created. We let Jesus shape our expectations and desires into ones for a Savior we need, into the Savior He is. A makeshift Savior isn't God with us. Jesus is God with us.