ICEBERG COLD REJECTION

 

By: Frank G. Tunstall 

Jesus the Prophet deserved the highest adoration, but the praise that went to Him during His triumphal entry into Jerusalem was mixed in its genuineness. Many in the crowd were sincere in their adoration because they knew Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead only a few days earlier. Others were probably just caught up in the mass of people. Still others, and these represented most of the national leaders as well as the larger numbers of the population, were enemies of Jesus. In less than a week’s time, the cold-hearted among the people in the parade would be screaming the anthem of terror, “Crucify Him; Crucify Him!” Regarding this latter majority, the Apostle John recorded, “He came to his own, but his own received him not” (John 1:11). The great failure of the nation and its religious establishment was when the light shined into their darkness they had already developed a love for darkness. This meant they did not understand or eagerly take hold of the revelation their Messiah had come to them in flesh and blood to save them. Their hearts were iceberg cold and their spiritual eyelids frozen shut (John 1:5).

Hail, thou once despisèd Jesus!
Hail, Thou Galilean king!
Thou didst suffer to release us;
Thou didst free salvation bring.
Hail, thou universal Savior,
Bearer of our sin and shame!
By Thy merit we find favor;
Life is given through Thy name.
By: John Bakewell

When the parade reached the point where “the road goes down to the Mount of Olives,” the celebration of the people reached a crescendo. “The whole crowd began joyfully to praise God in loud voices: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” (Luke 19:38; Mark 11:9-10).

Many in the throng did give Jesus honor that day, but the religious leaders of Israel took the lead and poured out icy rejection covered over with bitterness. “The Pharisees in the crowd” exemplified it. They “said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’”

“’I tell you, Jesus answered them, “’if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out’” (Luke 19:40).

The sense of the statement is that the lifeless rocks alongside the road had more spiritual recognition than did these national leaders about who was entering Jerusalem in that humble parade. The Greek word for cry here translates as a loud shout or a scream. The Living Bible paraphrases it, “The stones… will burst into cheers.”

“Now the crowd that was with [Jesus] when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “’See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!’” (John 12:17).

The word scattered like wildfire; so let your imagination hear it: “Have you heard, Jesus has raised Lazarus after four days in the tomb!”

Yes, word of mouth sped the news like lightning throughout the city.

It was the crowning miracle of Jesus’ ministry leading up to Passion Week. [His own resurrection takes first place.] Lazarus’ story was a huge drawing card in a nation that for 400 years had not had a God-sent prophet and had experienced a famine of miracles. Understandably, Lazarus was instantly famous. He was the “miraculous sign” that caused “many people” to go “out to meet [Jesus]” (John 12:18). But Jesus was the prime celebrity.

Let yourself think about it as you read. Many did not include everyone. Simultaneous with Jesus’ growing popularity, the opposition of Jewish leadership was steadily worsening, and it was vicious.

Can you feel the tension and hear their grumbling as the King of the Jews rode into Jerusalem on a donkey? [For us today, Jesus’ transportation would be something like a beat-up used car, and certainly not a shiny new limousine.] “If this is Israel’s king, he’ll never be able to conquer Rome. Why Roman soldiers would laugh all the way from Jerusalem to Caesarea about a king on a donkey with no sword. He’s an embarrassment and certainly not Israel’s Messiah. No way. Jesus can’t even afford a well-groomed stallion. Simply unthinkable. Some king if you ask me!” [Caesarea was Rome’s Middle Eastern capital.]

The issue went deeper still. “The crowd had swelled to a welcoming parade. The Pharisees took one look and threw up their hands: ‘It’s out of control. The world’s in a stampede after him’” (John 12:19 Msg). For these sworn enemies of Jesus, only one already-calculated solution remained.

Kill him.

There is no envy that breeds hatred quite like cold-hearted religious envy (Matthew 27:18; Mark 15:10).

Jesus felt the rejection, and His feelings had to be intense. The opportunity missed was of historic proportions. As Jesus “approached Jerusalem and saw the city,” Luke recorded how His emotions exploded. Jesus’ tears gushed as He started weeping. The Greek root word here indicates sobbing and loud wailing. Jesus had wept at the tomb of Lazarus too, albeit there it was silent tears.

With His eyes burning from the salty sobs and His heart breaking, Jesus spoke between His moans a prophecy over Jerusalem:

“If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you” (see Luke 19:41-44).

This parade should have concluded with a love feast between Jesus and the leadership of the nation. But it was not to be. Jesus’ humble entry into Jerusalem concluded with His eyes red with hot tears and with this prophecy of judgment on the City of David bursting out of His soul.

War can be a form of God’s judgment; it’s a conclusion from Jesus’ prophecy that must not be overlooked. In this case, Jesus said Jerusalem would fall because its people “did not recognize the time of God’s coming to [them].” Please consider, dear reader. What does this phrase say to you about the Deity of Jesus and the sins of nations?

About America’s sins?

For Israel, it all came true in 70 A.D. A Roman army under the command of General Titus surrounded Jerusalem with four legions (about 25,000 soldiers). The siege began a few days before Passover when the city was full of pilgrims from around the world, and continued about six months. Titus’ legions destroyed Jerusalem, just as Jesus foretold.

Roman soldiers slaughtered Israel’s warriors and non-combatant Jews by the tens of thousands, including many by crucifixion. Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, put the overall death toll at 1.1 million. Women and children also received brutal treatment. Another hundred thousand were force-marched to Rome to serve as gladiators in the arena, and as slave labor for Caesar’s building projects, including the Roman Coliseum.

To commemorate the victory, the Arch of Titus in Rome was built on the Roman Forum, ancient Rome’s main street. The arch has survived the centuries and stands to this day as a monument to the fall of Jerusalem. That military victory was an important factor in Titus’ becoming emperor of Rome and being named a god.

The iceberg-cold rejection of Jesus had lasting consequences. The fall of Jerusalem was disastrous. Israel did not become a nation again until about 1900 years later. During this time, the Islamic religion developed in the early 600s. Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 637. They lived in and largely controlled the land of Israel for the next 13 centuries, until 1948 when the modern nation of Israel was born. This reality is an important factor explaining the basis for Jews and Muslims in the modern era asserting competing rights of possession of Israel and especially disputing ownership of the city of Jerusalem.

We hold that Israel’s ultimate right to the land is God given – Jehovah gave the land to Abraham and His descendants (Genesis 12:1-7; 13:14-17; 15:1-21; 17:1-21; Gen 22:15-18). The fact that the sons of Abraham lived in the land for more than 1,500 years is important, but secondary.

This parade, Jesus’ triumphal entry, foreshadows the day when Jesus will come back to this earth in His second appearing for all who repent and believe  the gospel. King Jesus will enter Jerusalem again through the Eastern Gate, also known as the Golden Gate. It is the gate nearest the temple mount on the eastern side of the city.

Keep your lamps all trimmed and burning;
For the Bridegroom watch and wait;
He’ll be with us at the meeting;
Just inside the Eastern Gate.

Chorus
I will meet you. I will meet you.
Just inside the Eastern Gate over there.
I will meet you.
I will meet you.
I will meet you in the morning over there.
By: Isaiah G. Martin

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