The Storm of Jonah. (part 4)

Jesus and his disciples arrive at Bethphage and the mount of Olives.  This is the place from the legend of Zechariah from which the Messiah king would enter into Jerusalem.  It is here that Jesus stages a political demonstration.  In the classic fashion of kings entering into Jerusalem after conquering, Jesus enters riding not on his war steed like the kings of old, but on a donkey.  Jesus is making a statement about the kind of victory God is accomplishing in and through him.

He has come for his coronation as Israel’s new King as the true Son of David, and the crowds (so far a fascinating character in the story) acknowledge this by quoting Psalm 118: “Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”  These people are ready for Jesus to lead an uprising and finally end Roman occupation like Judas Maccabeus before him.  They are ready for Jesus to finally disclose his power in a violent coup.  They are ready for he and the disciples to launch a revolution, wielding the power of God to crush Israel’s enemies…

…and all Jesus does is turn over some tables in the temple and hang out with children…

Its no wonder that a few days later the same crowd that shouted “Hosanna!” will be stirred by the chief priests and the elders to swell in demonic unison as they cry out “CRUCIFY HIM!”  Pilate, the Roman governor attempts to release Jesus having found nothing to charge him with.  He offers to the crowds a known criminal named Jesus Barabbas.  The crowds cry for the release of Jesus Barabbas.  At least Barabbas gets things done.  They want a revolutionary who fights for them, not one who turns over tables and lets children sit on his lap.  But this is the very essence of the kingdom and reign of God.  It doesn’t come in visible demonstrations of power that awe the crowds, nor in violent military victories:  It comes in peace, obscurity, and suffering love.

Earlier, before Caiaphas, the chief priest, Jesus claimed that in the very act of crucifying him they would witness “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven.”  In Daniel 7, the Son of Man came on the clouds of heaven to judge the sea monsters which represented the oppressive Gentile kingdoms throughout history.  By claiming this event was finding its fulfillment in what was about to happen, Matthew is declaring Jesus to be the judge of the world.  The Judge of all had finally come, the storm of Jonah had arrived, the sea monsters convulsing in satanic unison to crucify the Son of God.  The Messiah has been warning his people of a terrifying judgment coming upon Jerusalem, and his crucifixion represents his willingness to be the first one to endure it.  In a shocking reversal of events, the Judge had come to receive the very same judgment he came to bring…in his own person.




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