Posted on July 16, 2014
#63: Fully Aware
Sunday, the first day of Passover week, was a busy time in Jerusalem. Jews from all over the world came to celebrate how God had spared their ancestors’ firstborn sons during the tenth plague. Exodus 12 told the story of the Lord “passing over” Israelite homes where the blood of a sacrificial lamb covered the doorposts, while bringing death to the firstborn in Egyptian homes not protected by blood. Each year of the centuries since, the Israelites (later called Jews) remembered that event with a feast as commanded by God (Ex. 12:25-28).
Feast time had come again, and all roads into Jerusalem were filled with travelers. The Jews knew the familiar rituals associated with Passover. But they weren’t aware that this year there would be a sacrificial Lamb like no other, whose blood would deliver them and their children from death once and for all.
Welcome to Knowing Jesus, our study through the gospel of Mark. Today begins the final section as we walk with Jesus through the last week of His earthly life.
Pause to get your Bible and read Mark 11:1-11. (Parallel accounts are in Matthew 21:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, and John 12:12.)
Jesus and the Twelve were just a few miles from Jerusalem when He asked two of the disciples to go into a nearby village. “You’ll find a donkey’s colt there that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it to Me. If anyone asks what you’re doing just tell them, ‘The Lord needs it. He’ll send it back shortly.’ ” When the two men got to town, they found the colt just as Jesus had said. They led the borrowed colt to Jesus and made a makeshift saddle with their cloaks.
Jesus sat on the colt—a direct fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy from Zechariah 9:9. He began to ride down the steep face of Olivet toward Jerusalem. He passed the entrance to Gethsemane and crossed the stone bridge spanning the Kedron River. Word rapidly spread among the crowds on the road that Jesus was coming. From every direction, people started gathering. The closer Jesus got to the city, the larger the crowds accompanying Him grew. They “paved” the road in front of Him with their cloaks and with branches cut from the fields along the road.
As Jesus rode up the slope of Moriah toward Jerusalem’s eastern gate, the swelling crowds cried out loud praises.
“Hosanna! Hosanna! (meaning “Save us, we pray!”)
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of David our father!”
“Hosanna in the highest!”
Some of their praises came from Old Testament scriptures like Psalm 118, a song of ascent often sung by worshippers coming for Passover—but this time with new meaning they weren’t aware of.
Jesus knew His enemies were watching for Him, intending to kill Him. Yet He didn’t sneak into Jerusalem. He arrived in full majesty. Matthew writes that “the whole city was stirred.” His jealous enemies moaned, “Look how the whole world has gone after Him!” (Jn. 12:19) Massive throngs surrounded Him, singing and praising. Most probably believed they were welcoming an earthly king who would deliver them from Roman rule. They weren’t aware that the King of kings and Lord of lords was in their midst.
Arriving in the city, Jesus went to the temple. Centuries earlier, the prophet Malachi had written, “…Suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple.” (Mal. 3:1) Did anyone in the temple that day feel a stirring? Was anyone aware that Jesus—God robed in flesh—was in His house? Jesus looked around the temple, then quietly slipped out of the city and returned to Bethany for the night.
Such a momentous day, and so few—if any—who appreciated its significance. Luke records that as Jesus rode toward Jerusalem that day, He looked down from the Mount of Olives and wept over the city. “If you, even you, only knew . . . .” If a single word could be used to describe Jerusalem that day, it would be unaware—unaware of His greatness, unaware of the sacrifice He was about to make, unaware of the abundant life He planned to give them.
I wonder, how often does He weep over us saying, “If you only knew”? How much of the time are we unaware of His greatness, of His sacrifice, of the abundant life He longs to give us?
We once lived next door to a church with bells that chimed every hour on the hour. Maybe you’ve heard such chimes. The original purpose of hourly chimes was to remind Christians of the presence of God every hour. This week, try to devise your own way to stay aware of God, to be reminded of Him at all times. Don’t be content to be unaware.
© Diane McLoud 2014