This week at Wednesday Night Worship we began a new 3-week series called "The Final Week" as we look at some of the events that took place in the final week of Jesus' life on earth leading to the crucifixion. Before things got started we hung out and then played a silly trivia game about chickens and eggs since we are in the Easter season. Then our worship set included: "Salvation Is Here" (Hillsong United), "Hosanna (Praise is Rising)" (Paul Baloche), "On My Cross" (FFH), and "Jesus Thank You" (Not sure who this is by).
As I began teaching I talked about how the final week leading to the crucifixion took place during the Passover, which was celebrated yearly as a reminder of their freedom from slavery in Egypt. This is similar to our July 4th Independence Day. Jerusalem was a city of about 50,000 people but during the Passover it is estimated that nearly 2 million people were there to celebrate. There was a lot going on and a lot of people there to be a part of it. The question that people were asking was as Jesus rode in was "Who is this man?" (Matthew 21:10). This question of who is Jesus is one that we must each answer, and not only with words, but with a true reflection of our heart. Jesus is the most fascinating person in history. There have been t-shirts, books, even action figures made of Jesus. He is the most fascinating and most controversial person ever. Many people ask who is He and it is a question that you must answer yourself.
We took a few minutes to share stories of where we had expectations of something, but then it turned out quite differently than what we thought. I shared a story of how when I was a kid we waited in line a long time to get concert tickets for my sister for a popular boy band at the time, and was told they were really good seats. However when we were actually at the concert, the seats were nowhere near as good as we expected and it was quite disappointing. The people expected Jesus to be one way, yet He turned out to be different. He was actually quite better than they thought, but their opinion of Him was very wrong.
We first read Matthew 21:1-11 and pointed out a few thing from these verses. First of all, the Roman government was in control at this time, and the people were under a tough rule. They knew the prophecies of the Messiah, and expected Him to come and free them from the tyranny of the Roman government. The Pharisees and the Sadducees had some shared power with the Roman government. This meant that Jews were allowed to celebrate the Passover, but that the Pharisees and Sadducees had to try to keep them in line and keep the people calm. If they uphold their end of the deal then they were given a little bit of political power. As Jesus rode in the city on a donkey, the people laid down Palm branches which were a symbol of victory and freedom. They laid their coats down (which they probably owned only 1) which symbolized laying down their best for Him. This was something done for kings during Old Testament times. They cried "Hosanna" which means "save now". They knew that Jesus was the Messiah, but they wanted Him to come and take over as king and overthrow the Roman government.
Then we read Luke 19:39-42, where the Pharisees try to get Jesus to calm down the people. Jesus tells them that even the rocks will cry out in worship if these people are quiet. Then we see that Jesus weeps over the city of Jerusalem. He weeps because He knew that their worship of Him was superficial. He knows that it was only surface worship and not a true reflection of their hearts. Jesus knew that these people who were worshipping Him on Sunday were the same people who would boo Him and yell "Crucify Him" on Friday. They booed Him because He was different than what they expected.
Often we turn to God when it is convenient for us or when we are in need. The most common prayer can be summarized as "Help". It is ok to ask God for help, but when it is our only prayer and the only time we turn to God in prayer, then it is a problem. When we ask ourselves "Who is Jesus?" we really must consider our hearts. Are we the ones who worship Him on Sunday, but when He does not fit our expectations on Friday we boo Him with our lifestyle?