This morning, we’re going to read through some of the recorded events which happened during the last few days in the life of Jesus. Through these events, we get a glimpse into the heart and passion of Jesus as well as the things which He valued greatly.
We’ll pick up right after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which we celebrate as Palm Sunday. It was a time of great rejoicing as many of God’s people welcome Him as their coming King. The whole city was stirred by Him and to some, this was a time of great confusion as they wondered who Jesus really was. Either way, there was much pressure on Jesus. The Pharisees and Sadducees wanted Him dead. All eyes were on Him and ears fixed on His every word. Jesus also knew full well that His death was drawing near.
12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
First off, we find that Jesus was extremely passionate that His house would be a house of prayer. He was so passionate about it that it became one of the very few times when Jesus is recorded as being hostile and violent. His rage is still invoked when people try to make a profit off of individuals seeking after God. So also, we should be passionate and persistence in prayer, always seeking after our Heavenly Father and overturning anything that gets in the way of us doing it!
14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
“‘From the lips of children and infants
you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”
17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
As we’ve all sung before, Jesus loves the little children. When you find yourself getting annoyed and indignant when the children in the church get a little loud and rowdy, remember how Jesus views them. Don’t be like the priests and teachers who want them to keep quiet, be like Jesus who calls it praise!
We also see again that it is the will of Jesus to release healing. Since He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, He is still our Healer today! It is also interesting that even in the darkest days of His life, even when the pressure coming down upon Him was tremendous, still He was busy doing the work of ministry.
He didn’t think of Himself and wallow in regret, He didn’t share with others how bad things were about to get, He didn’t seek out their pity. Jesus poured out His life for them and served their needs right up until His dying breath.
18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.
20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.
21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Now we almost always attribute our faith to bringing about God’s promises alone and even quote these verses to teach about it. We know that we must stand on God’s word alone and speak it into existence. However, God’s words do not only bless, there is also recorded in the scriptures where God curses. Right here, we find an example of Jesus getting frustrated with His creation and cursing it. When questioned, he attributed His curse to our own faith.
Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that our tongues hold the power of life and death. The words that we speak in faith possess power. How many times have we walked by faith bringing onto ourselves curses by the words that we speak? Let’s choose instead to speak life and blessings instead of death and curses!
Well, unless you’re dealing with fleas, then by all means, please speak curses and death. In fact, just last week, the Colliers cursed the fleas which our home had been infested by and from that day, we never saw a single flea again! How awesome is our God to care even for the little annoyances in our everyday lives?
23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”
24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”
They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
When walking in obedience to God, we will often be challenged. We must remember that we’re called to be obedient, not to have all of the answers. There are times when we don’t have to answer our challengers. There are times when our actions will speak for themselves where words are ineffective. Sometimes the best answer to a question is another question or perhaps a parable? Jesus gave them both.
28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
God is not concerned about who we are or where we come from, He is only concerned with where we are going. He will forgive and empower any who choose to follow Him. The Kingdom of God does not look at the religious, outward things that the church or the world does, God’s Kingdom looks at the heart and who we truly are and our willingness to walk in obedience to Him. God does not listen to our words and their frequent deceit, but rather at our actions.
Jesus also reveals to us here that there is hope for everyone! Even as Jesus said about Himself, He came to seek and to save the lost. His heart longs for all of His creation that does not know Him. Even as He said, He came not for those who are well, those who think they do not need Him. He came for the sick, those who need a great Physician and His divine healing. He came specifically for sinners like you and I. In case we fail to understand this parable and His heart that longs for the lost and unbelievers, Jesus us gave another.
33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”
42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.
This parable explained how God had sent the prophets and even His own Son to gather together His people. He has entrusted us as stewards of what belongs to Him, which is everything that we are and everything that we have. When God then asks us to give back the tithes that we owe Him and offerings to bless Him, how do we respond? Will we keep it to ourselves because we worked hard for it and feel that we are entitled to it?
Will we live producing the fruits of our selfish flesh or will we allow the fruits of the Spirit to grow in our lives? Jesus also then reminds us that God’s Kingdom and His rich inheritance will be given to anyone who will produce the fruits of His Kingdom.
In this last parable that we’re going to read together this morning, Jesus explains again this powerful transition from the Old Testament to the New Testament, from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, from glory to even greater glory.
1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
This is where we find ourselves in history. We, His servants, were left with the command of Jesus to go into all of the world and to make disciples. We are called and commanded to go and invite anyone that we find to the great wedding feast of Christ and the Church; to accept His great salvation!
There is simply too much at stake here for us to be like those wicked servants of God who pay no attention to the call and command of Jesus and ignore Him because we’re just too busy for Him! Jesus said that they paid not attention and went off – one to his field and another to his business. When Jesus calls us to come into His house to celebrate with Him, is this what we choose to do instead? The good, the bad, any who are willing; we’re to call them all in to celebrate with Jesus until there is no more room. I love the way that this same parable of Jesus is written in the book of Luke:
“Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.”
That is what Jesus is telling us to do. Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that His house will be full. I don’t know about you all this morning, but this house is not yet full; nor are the other houses of His in this area. Are we being faithful in doing our part to compel people to come in? No matter how many times people tell you that church is not about the number in attendance, Jesus made it clear that His desire is that His house be full.
However, Jesus also leaves us with this warning about those who are saved and have accepted His invitation. After all, there is coming a day of judgment when we all gather before Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords to give an account of our lives.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.
13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
More important than just accepting the invitation of Jesus and showing up for the party, we must ready ourselves to meet with Jesus. Jesus literally said that to us:
So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
We must keep ourselves grounded firm in our faith and clothed by the righteousness and love of Christ alone. We must keep the oil in our lamps full and with some to spare, burning brightly His light into this dark world, so that when Jesus does return, we’ll be ready for that great wedding banquet when He makes all things new and we are with Him forever!
Even So, Come