Year A – Palm Sunday – Matthew 21:1-13

Matthew 21:1–13 – When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” 4 This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, 5 “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
12 Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den of robbers.”

Summary – This passage provides the climax of Christ’s journey toward Jerusalem. He has “set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51, Matt. 16:21, 20:17; cf Is. 50). When He arrives in Jerusalem He goes to the temple. Jesus’s “triumphal entry” culminates in the “cleansing” the temple. To understand this, we must see how Jesus reenacts Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jer. 7:12, 26:6; 1 Sam. 4:15-22; Ps. 78:60). Jesus replays Jeremiah’s experience with the destruction of Shiloh (tabernacle) and Solomon’s temple (586 BC) at the time of the exile. This all fulfills the pattern of cleansing a leprous/unclean House (Lev. 14:33-47; cf. John 2:13). Jesus symbolically tears down the house as a prophetic action foreshadowing the actual destruction of the temple (70 A.D. Matt. 24:1ff).

Insight – In the middle of the game how do you know who will be the winner? The one who “triumphs” may not be clear until the game is over. This is the case with Jesus entering into Jerusalem. At the climax of Matthew we find Jesus entering finally into Jerusalem to fulfill a prophecy by Zechariah. A closer look at this prophecy reveals a promise showing how God will accomplish His purposes:

Zechariah 9:8–11 – But I will camp around My house because of an army, Because of him who passes by and returns; And no oppressor will pass over them anymore, For now I have seen with My eyes. 9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; And the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; And His dominion will be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth. 11 As for you also, because of the blood of My covenant with you, I have set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.

So is Jesus climactic entrance really a “triumphal entry”? It is not an immediate triumph. Rather, it was a defeat of the Son of Man. He was seized, interrogated, beaten, tortured and finally, mercilessly put to death in the cruelest way. But  . . . because of this “defeat,” planned before the foundation of the world, the greatest triumph was possible. As Matthew hints, the true son of David will have dominion from sea to sea because of the blood of his new covenant. Jesus, though He appeared to all the world as a defeated crucified failure — a loser — by this death, brought in the judicial and official basis of the very victory of God. Jesus does triumph, but through the cross.

Child’s Catechism – How did Jesus triumph? Through His death on the cross.

Discussion – How do believers ultimately “win” their triumph? Is it similar or different to Christ’s triumph?

Prayer – Almighty Lord, we give your praise for the triumph of Jesus through the crown of thorns and the cross of Calvary. Grant that we may follow Him by giving of ourselves in service, obedience, and love in order that we may be found in His righteousness through faith. In Christ’s name. Amen.

Year B – Trinity 7 – 1 Samuel 17:32-49

1 Samuel 17:32-49:  David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. 36 Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 David said, “The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you!”

38 Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. 39 David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.

41 The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43 The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.” 45 But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.” 48 When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. (NRSV)

 

Summary:  This familiar scene between David and Goliath has become an iconic showdown for all those underdogs pitted against an invincible foe.  But David is not the lone hero of this story (nor would he let himself be); Instead, it was for the Lord’s honor and His glory that David fought (vv45,46).  Probably the age of an older teen at the time, David was nevertheless behaving as the noble and true leader for God’s people—though it would still be years before he was publically recognized as the king.

 

Insight:  Can you image that your parents were once teenagers?  It may be hard to believe, but all of us adults were at one time in your, or in your older siblings, shoes.  Being a young adult is not quite like being an adult, but it certainly feels like you’re not kid anymore.  We’ve been there and so was David.  Despite his youth, he demonstrated a remarkable level of spiritual maturity and wisdom.  His youthful drive and focus was one of humble servanthood and properly placed zeal.  Something we adults, and future adults alike, do well to learn from.

 

Child Catechism:  Why would David fight Goliath?  Because he had defiled the armies of the living God.

Discussion:  Parents, what teenage challenges did you face and overcome with God’s help?  Children (and youth adults), what Goliath-size challenges are your facing in your youth?

 

Father we remember your steadfast love and devotion to your people

In all stages of our life, protector us and stand with us

Our battles are your battles

In the power of your Spirit and the name of the King, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

 

Contributed by M. West

March 11, 2012 Year B – Third Sunday in Lent: John 2:13-22

13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Summary:  The temple was central to Israelite life.  At the time this was the meeting place of God and His people.  And greed is only one way God’s people can corrupt even the most holy of human activities.  Christ was not against worship in the temple, He was after all going to Jerusalem in celebration of Passover (vv13-14).  Instead, Christ’s zeal was for the purity of worship in the temple.  Of course, it wasn’t until he rose from the dead that the disciples began to fully understanding the larger implications of God’s presence in that human temple:  the God-man Jesus.

Insight:  Many hypocritical thoughts, actions and emotions plague our lives as Christians.  Such anxieties follow us into corporate worship as well.  We want to be zealous for the Lord’s house;  And when we gather in the presence of the one true God, we are also naturally concerned that our worship be just as true.  As a result of the incarnation, Jesus is the one obedient and faithful worshiper of God.  Both the book of Romans and of Hebrews emphasize that it was his perfect sacrifice and worship that allows us to worship with a good conscience; and that because it is Christ’s Spirit within us.  This is why Paul speaks of our body’s also being a temple.  Isn’t it exciting and scary to know that God is especially present with each of us?  Yet, it is God who graciously affects and reforms us, transforming you and I, and making us anew (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18).  Though our bodies won’t be completely new until that final resurrection (Phil. 1:6); this is still all the more reason to appreciate and yet disciple our physical-ness during this season of Lent.

Child Catechism:  What temple did Jesus destroy and raise up again?  His physical body, which is the greatest temple:  the presence of God fully and yet fully human.

Discussion:  What are some ways we can take care of this bodily temple?  Is it possible to abuse and misdirect our passion for God?

Father,

You know our frame;  You know we are but dust;  Show us compassion.  Treat us as sons in your household, teaching us proper zeal and leading us by you Spirit and in Christ’s name.  Amen.

[Contributed by Malcolm West]