Daily Bible Readings – Palm Sunday, March 24, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 24

Prayer Point. “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” Who can make such a claim? Only Jesus can. He is the King who entered the gates of Jerusalem and offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Thank God for opening the door to know and enjoy him through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Matthew 21:12-17

Background. There are unfulfilled dreams for the temple which drives Jesus’ anger.  He quotes Isaiah 56:7 as he overturns the tables of the sellers and moneychangers.

Isaiah 56:6-7 And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD and to worship him … these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house [temple] will be called a house of prayer for all nations.

In the temple of Jesus’ day, there was only one place where Gentiles could come to worship God and that was the outer court called the Court of the Gentiles. That was the place where the moneychangers and sellers set up shop effectively shutting out the Gentiles from worshiping God. These conniving opportunists had all but killed God’s dream that the nations of the world worship him there.

It gets worse. These moneychangers and sellers also gouged the pilgrims who had no choice but to purchase their wares. Jesus shows particular anger towards those who sold doves, which were the offerings given by the poor when they couldn’t afford a lamb. In God’s house, the poor were exploited and foreigners were excluded.

Pay close attention to …

  • The contrast between the moneychangers and the dove sellers and Jesus.
  • What the children can see that the chief priests and teachers of the law could not. Note that Son of David was a title for the Messiah.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

1 Timothy 6:12-16

Background. 1 Timothy is a personal letter from the Apostle Paul to Timothy, a young missionary that Paul mentored.  Timothy after serving with Paul on his missionary journeys was left behind in Ephesus to oversee the churches that were established there.  Paul writes to encourage and instruct his young protege.

Pay close attention to …

  • The fight Timothy is called to fight.
  • What he is to hold on to.
  • How long he is to keep the commands of God.
  • The hope that makes the struggle worth it.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

Zechariah 9:9-12; 12:9-21; 13:1, 7-9

Background. Much of what we look at today will have a ring of familiarity about it because today is Palm Sunday which launches us into Holy Week.  We refer to Jesus entry into Jerusalem as the “triumphal entry”.  That could mean any of several things, but it is quite significant that Jesus is atop a donkey.  This marks the “triumphal” aspect for if the king is riding on a donkey then he has been victorious and comes in peace.  A king seated on a war horse, obviously, is off to battle.  Not so here.

Pay close attention to …

  • These readings and how they relate to all the activity going on in Jerusalem as Jesus lives through these prophecies.
  • The emotion being encouraged (v. 9:9 )
  • What is being proclaimed (v.9:10 )
  • “…blood of my covenant…” (v. 9:11 )*
  • “Prisoners of hope…” (v.9:12 )

*The writer of Hebrews tells us “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins…” (9:22 NIV)  Indeed anything needing purification in the Old Testament required some amount of animal blood.  It would be a safe guess that there was enough blood shed in the thousands of sacrifices during the Old Covenant to float Noah’s ark.  Still that was insufficient.  The importance of blood in the scripture extends even to food.  Blood = life thus it was forbidden for anyone to eat food with blood in it.

John the Baptist first referred to Jesus as “the lamb of God”.  This lamb, like the hundreds of thousands before him, will have to surrender his life (blood) which will prove to be a sufficient sacrifice.

Continuing… (Zechariah 12:9-11)

  • “They will look on me, the one they pierced (v. 12:10 )**
  • Weeping in Jerusalem (v. 12:11 )

** Psalm 22:16-18 (NIV) “Dogs [Gentiles] have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.  I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me  They divide my garments among them and cast lost for my clothing.”

“Dog” was a common epithet for anyone who was a non-Jew.  Jesus also used it when he was asked to heal a Canaanite woman’s daughter of demon possession.  “The woman came and knelt before him. ‘Lord help me!’ she said.  He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.’  ‘Yes, Lord, she said, ‘but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’  Then Jesus answered, ‘Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.’  And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”  (Matthew 15:25-28 NIV)

Not finished yet… (Zechariah 13:1, 7-9)

  •  The sheep (v. 13:7 )

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

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