The Unlikely Route to Life

We’re going to be reading John 12:12-26 this Sunday.  The main theme that ties this section together is that Jesus seems to do and say the opposite of what we think he should. The section begins with v12-22, as Jesus comes into Jerusalem in what has been called his “triumphal entry”.

It’s a familiar scene to us, if we’ve been around the Bible at all, or at very least have seen movies about Jesus…but do we ever think about the particulars of this event? For instance, why are the people waving palm branches? There is some interesting information about palm branches found in this article – I encourage you to read it, and keep this passage in mind as you do.  If you read the article you realize what waving the palm branch would have meant, at least to the Romans guarding the city. What do you think their reaction would have been? Does that tell you why the religious leaders were concerned?

There is actually a great deal of historic background that goes along with this event – in the Maccabean Revolt which happened nearly 150 years before Jesus was born, the Jewish people routed the Greek (Seleucid) occupiers – and upon re-entering the city and temple, the people all waved palm branches in celebration of this victory over gentile oppression.

With that in mind…what do you think the people of Jerusalem were anticipating with Jesus coming to town?

How surprising then, when Jesus starts talking about dying in v24. That’s not normally how kings rise to power, is it? We certainly wouldn’t call Saddam Hussein a victor, would we? But Jesus is pointing us in a direction that is opposite to the flow of the patterns of this world. What appears to be the devastating power of Roman authority exercised in crucifying Jesus is actually it’s defeat – and the route to life for all who believe.

This would be true not only for him, but he broadens the application in v25-26, sweeping us into it’s scope. We will follow this route, and according to Jesus, find life; real, eternal life. But what will this look like when lived out? How do we disentangle ourselves from the tyranny of ego? It has to be more than just putting a landscape picture on our FB profile.

I propose it comes down to motive. What motivated Jesus to lay down his life in order to bring fruit into our lives? How can we emulate that same motive, and how will that differ from the patterns of this world’s system?

This will be a challenging study – so….take this advice from Samuel L. Jackson.

This Sunday: Mark 11:1-11

Triumphal entry

So, I’m thinking through ways in which we can be more interactive and engaged in the texts we study on Sunday mornings.  I’m wondering if this blog can be used as a means of achieving those goals as well.

This Sunday, we’re going to continue our study in Mark, and we’ll be starting chapter 11, and we’ll examine the first 11 verses. (Click the link to the left to read the passage at Bible Gateway.  Try reading it in several translations- NIV, NKJ, The Message, etc.)  Let me offer a few thoughts and questions, and maybe we can even get a discussion going in the comments section (if not, no worries, we’re just trying things out here)…all in preparation for corporately examining this passage on Sunday morning.

The whole text is significant in terms of identifying whoJesus is, and what role He has come to fulfill.  As Jesus first arrives in Jerusalem, He is received with great fanfare, and He is in effect, being declared a “king”.  Who is it that is making this declaration?

Within a week, Jesus will be arrested, and the charges brought against Him will be directly related to this very event.  What will Jesus be accused of before the Romans?

In our country, we have very little use for monarchies and kings – why is that?  Does that have any influence on our perception of Jesus as a King?  If we are part of the kingdom of God, what does that mean?  How is Jesus your King? 

What kind of King does Jesus appear to be in this passage?  What things seem evident from the events as they’re described?

Ok.  That’s it.  Let’s see if this works.