Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Who Is This? From Triumphal Entry to Empty Tomb in Matthew's Gospel

When Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday, Matthew says the whole city was stirred and people were asking, "Who is this?"  In the week that followed many would find the answer to this question.  Of course, the Gospels were written in order to answer the question, "Who is Jesus?"  And also to challenge us with the question that Jesus asked Peter: "Who do you say that I am?"  As he describes the last week of Jesus ministry Matthew adds to our understanding of who Jesus really is.

ON SUNDAY we see that he is King and Savior of his people.  Jesus enters Jersualem like a king and Matthew says, "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" (21:4-5).

ON MONDAY he is a judge with God's authority.  "And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.  He said to them, 'It is written, my house shall be called a house of prayer and you make it a den of robbers'" (21:12-13).

ON TUESDAY he is a teacher whose authority is challenged.  "And when he entered the temple the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching and said, 'By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?'" (21:23).  There followed a long day of prophetic teaching that clearly answered his challengers.  At the end of the day Matthew tells us this: "When he had finished all these sayings he said to his disciples, 'You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.'" (26:1-2).

ON WEDNESDAY Jesus is silent while his enemies plot his death.  "Then the chief priests and the elders gathered in the palace of the high priest ... and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him"  (26:3-4).

ON THURSDAY he is both Host and Meal at the Last Supper.  "Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, 'Take, eat; this is my body.'  And he took a cup and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, 'Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins'" (26:26-28).

ON FRIDAY he is Suffering Servant and Sacrificial Son.  "When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.  And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor" (27:1-2).

ON SATURDAY he is dead and buried.  All are silent.

ON SUNDAY HE IS THE RESURRECTED LORD.  "But the angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for he has risen ... !!!" (28:5-6).

Now the question is before us -- you and me -- who do you say Jesus is?