During this Easter season, I am taking full advantage of all that I recently experienced in Israel as my mind absorbed the landscape, the terrain and the historical aspect of the city of David. This is about more than just an event or a series of special church services each spring! This is about the God of heaven through a series of events displaying or better yet revealing to us who he is and what he wants for us… each of us.
A few weeks back as I stood on the Mt. of Olives looking down toward Temple Mount, I could not help but think of Jesus view of the city the very day of the triumphal entry. I thought of how God deliberately put on display His love for mankind circumventing any misguided notion that there is another way to Him. Throughout scripture we clearly see that God is doing everything he can to make [EC1] clear to mankind his love and his plan so that no one will ever be tempted to embrace the teaching that there are many ways to God, that there are many roads to heaven… no, there is only one! This is so we don’t miss Him!
Matthew records the moment… “Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives…” Phillip Yancey in his book “The Jesus I never knew” wrote, “For several years, as Holy Week approaches, I have read all the gospel accounts together, sometimes back-to-back, sometimes interwoven in a ‘harmony of the Gospels’. Each time I feel swept away by the sheer drama. The simple, unadorned rendering has a grinding power, and I can almost hear a bass drum beating dolefully in the background. No miracles break in, no supernatural rescue attempts. This is tragedy beyond Sophocles or Shakespeare. The might of the world, the most sophisticated religious system of its time allied with the most powerful political empire, arrays itself against a solitary figure, the only perfect man who has ever lived. Though he is mocked by the powers and abandoned by his friends, yet the Gospels give the strong, ironic sense that he himself is overseeing the whole long process. He has resolutely set his face for Jerusalem, knowing the fate that awaits him. The cross has been his goal all along. No, as death nears, he calls the shots.” The thing is, He still calls the shots today!
The danger is… You can see Jesus and yet never see him! The disciples, the crowds, they saw him but they didn’t see him! Oh, they saw his humanity but they certainly missed His divinity and the real reason He came. Secondly, You can hear Jesus and not hear what he says! They heard his words yet they didn’t hear what he was saying! Phillip Keller in his work Rabboni wrote… “Gently they climbed the long low limestone ridge that separated Bethany from the seething metropolis. Over a million visitors from all parts of the Mediterranean world swarmed like eager ants through its choked and crowded streets. The low hum and ominous throb of the cities pulsing life hung on the air that drift up to the Mount of Olives. In the clear morning sun falling full on Jerusalem, Jesus paused to gaze softly at this metropolis that had stirred the emotions and gripped the hopes of his people for over a thousand years. No other city in all the world possessed such a peculiar fascination for its people. Nor had and capital ever been so terribly devastated and destroyed again and again. Repeatedly it had been the scene of awful cruelty and revolting carnage. Standing there on the Mount of Olives, despite his mighty manhood, glistening tears welled up in his magnificent eyes. They trickled down over his tanned face to drop on his rough tunic. Oh Jerusalem Oh Jerusalem. How often I would have gathered you up in my arms. He stretched out his strong arms toward the city in anguish and heartache…. But you would not have it!” Nothing is recorded in scripture about them getting or understanding what Jesus is saying here!
Is it possible to hear his words and not get what he is saying? I am convinced it happens every Sunday in every church. Lastly, it is possible to walk close with Jesus and yet not even know who He is!
We have a good idea what those observing this moment in time thought…. But what about Jesus? Perhaps He thought of man’s futility in relying solely on religion. EM Bounds in his memorable work on prayer wrote… “The golden religious age crucified Christ. Never more praying, never less praying; never more sacrifices, never less sacrifice; never less idolatry, never more idolatry; never more of temple worship, never less of God worship; never more of lip service, never less of heart service, never more of churchgoers, never less of saints.” They missed him completely… and so could we! The good news is that we don’t have to miss the true meaning of Easter and we don’t have to miss Jesus. Maybe the question should be… what are you thinking?
Tim Throckmorton is the former Executive Pastor of the Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace Ohio and the Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. He is currently the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.ReachReach