March 9 – Chronological Life of Jesus Day 48
As Jesus enters into Jerusalem in our reading today, we are now entering into the gospel accounts of his last days on earth. This is where we’ll be at for the next month, hanging on every word that comes out of Jesus’ mouth and continuing to follow, even in the face of rejection and persecution and pain and suffering. Victory is at the end of these gospels!
READ: Matthew 20-21
Chapter 20 gives Matthew’s first-hand account of the teaching and miracles on the road to Jerusalem that we read about last week in Luke 18 and Mark 10. But the parable of the workers in the vineyard is only found in Matthew’s gospel. This parable could also be titled Life Ain’t Fair, So Get Over It. We have a tendency to want to place limits on grace out of a sense of justice/fairness. But once we do that, it becomes about works. That’s not what God designed, and through this parable, Jesus teaches exactly that. The people who worked the longest think they should get more than the people who worked just a little bit, but the landowner, God that is, offered the same pay to everyone he asked to work. He’s God, and He makes the rules. Thank You God for that! Your version of grace is so much better than mine, perfect in fact! My Bible points out that the jealousy of what we consider to be an unfair reward, as dsecribed in verses 20:13-15, can take the joy away from our own reward. I don’t want to live like that. There’s rejoicing in heaven every time someone accepts God’s gift of grace, so that’s how I should respond too, even if it’s a serial murderer accepting Jesus for the first time on death row, and even if it’s my worst enemy from high school who stole my boyfriend and would call me fat and cast spells on me.
At the end of the road to Jerusalem, a beautiful event unfolds in verses 21:1-11, as foretold in the prophecy of Zechariah. Jesus leading with his followers walking behind him—his apostles, his disciples, those he healed, and after two months of studying Jesus’ life, I feel like you and me are there following Jesus into Jerusalem too. An impromptu parade begins with Jesus as the honoree, finally being treated like the King he is! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest! (vs. 21:9) And with that fanfair, Jesus’ final days begin in Jerusalem.
Jesus did not come with swords blazing to forcibly take over Jerusalem. He came peacefully, gently, riding a donkey—that’s about as non-threatening as you can get. Upon arrival, he got right to work, continuing to teach and heal. The chief priests and Pharisees didn’t like Jesus because he shone his light on their sins and they felt their authority was threatened. They were still convinced that Jesus and his followers were coming to take over the government. But Jesus continued to try to reach out to them and bridge the divide between them and God (21:15-16, 23-27, 28-44). They just didn’t want to listen.
I can be stubborn like a Pharisee too. But I have accepted Your gift of grace, so You can use my stubbornness for Your Kingdom.
Thank You for continually pursuing me and raining Your grace over me daily! Please help me to listen and to follow Your lead. Take my stubbornness and use it for Your glory, for endurance in fighting the good fight and finishing the race!