Standing in Need of a Spiritual Cleansing – Matthew 21:1-17
On Palm Sunday the church celebrates Jesus’ triumphal entry into the Holy City of Jerusalem. This occasion was prophesied by Zechariah circa 540 years earlier (Zechariah 9:9) with Judah’s king entering the city riding upon a donkey. Jesus’ entrance occurs while being surrounded by a large contingent of celebrants who had gathered for the upcoming Jewish Passover. It is estimated that almost 2 million Jews had arrived in the city and its environs.
As He approached the city Jesus directs two of the disciples to enter Bethpage and bring a donkey and her colt unto Him. After returning to their Master with both animals they placed their garments upon the colt and sat Jesus upon it. Typically, victorious warriors after a battle would enter a city riding upon a horse to the praise of its citizenry. However, it should be noted here that Jesus entering Jerusalem upon a donkey would be appropriate for a king to enter a city during a time of peace. His triumphal entrance was representative of 1) humility prevailing over pride and arrogance, 2) poverty prevailing over wealth and affluence and 3) the simple things of life prevailing over worldly grandeur.
The crowd gathered and celebrated Jesus’ entrance by spreading palms and garments in the street. Shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David,” “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord,” and “Hosanna in the Highest” rang out. Hosanna means “to save” and the crowd’s shouts portray Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah, the One who would deliver the nation from under the rule and oppression of the Roman empire.
The city of Jerusalem was stirred by the large commotion of Jesus’ entrance with many declaring that this is the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. However, what is often overlooked on Palm Sunday is the event that follows on the next day. The commotion surrounding the triumphal entrance did not accurately portray a nation expecting a spiritual leader, but a people filled with misguided motives. Even today many attending church fail to recognize the redemptive purpose of Jesus’ coming.
Upon entering the city on Monday Jesus proceeded to the Temple and began a cleansing that drew the ire of those profiting from the exchange of monies and purchase of sacrificial animals. Likewise, Jesus’ actions were also not appreciated by the religious leaders. The corrupt activities occurring at the Temple in Jerusalem was simply indicative of corrupt activities that were embedded throughout the nation of Judah. Such activities are not significantly different from what is occurring in the United States of America and throughout the world at this present time. Jesus spoke to the religious leaders “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a robbers’ den.” Similarly, the United States was once proclaimed to be a nation under God, but our monetary and other practices testify to the fact that Godly principles have been forsaken to satisfy the greed and other sinful lusts of many.
Following the cleansing of the Temple Jesus ministered to the blind and lame by healing them. The children and I believe others began to cry out in worship to the Lord, but the religious leaders remained indignant and failed to join in the worship after witnessing the wonderful things done. Today, when you enter the Temple or your private place of worship, do you recognize 1) the wonderful acts of Almighty God on your behalf and 2) that you and/or your nation are “Standing in Need of a Spiritual Cleaning?” God speaks in II Chronicles 7:13-14 - “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” A national cleansing can only commence with individual cleansings.