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A Palm Sunday Thought

Matthew 21:1-17 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there. 

As we look at the events leading up to the betrayal of Jesus, we come to this event known at the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Today, in many churches all over the world, this story was read or told. However, what we sometimes miss is that after Jesus enters Jerusalem, He immediately goes to the temple.

When we do talk about Jesus going to the temple, we emphasize how He threw out the moneychangers and the sellers of sacrificial animals. What I want us to see, just briefly, is that after He cleansed the temple, Jesus ministered to those who came to Him there. Jesus was in the temple after He drove out those who had been selling animals and the blind and lame came to Him. Not only did these people come to Him, but He healed them. He ministered to their needs there in the newly cleansed temple.

Sometimes I wonder why it is that people are not being ministered to in many churches. Could it be that the people in the church have made the church a “den of robbers” and the real message of the Gospel is not reaching those who need it? Have churches become so caught up in their programs and specialized ministries that they don’t have time to simply preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

It saddens me to think of all the people out there in churches listening to a semi-glorified motivational speaker while their souls thirst for the truth. I think of the pastors who faithfully stand up every week and declare the Word of God, watching people fall away from the church while seeing the churches who have games and movie themed messages and big productions at certain times of the year but lack the basic essentials of the Gospel, yet these wild and crazy churches fill up while the church with the faithful pastor dwindles and my heart breaks.

I wonder how many people read the warning of Charles Spurgeon when he said, “A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats,” and took that warning as a challenge to see how crazy they could make the entertainment within the church? Spurgeon said this to warn the faithful to stay away from these kinds of people, not as a challenge to see which church could come up with the stupidest ideas!

It is time for another cleansing of the temple. This time we need to start with the churches who refuse to preach the truth of the Word of God. Start with the “pastors” who keep their congregations in bondage because they lack understanding of what the Gospel teaches.

If we truly want to see people saved and discipled, then we need to get serious about what happens in the church. It is not a place for foolish games and over-produced stage shows. The church is the place where God, the creator of the universe is praised and exalted by His people. It is where the Word of God is taught and preached, the believers are equipped to go out and evangelize, and disciples are made.


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