On Palm Sunday and Cleansing the Temple

Palm Sunday is the celebration of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. See Matthew 21:4-13. Jesus had recently raised Lazarus from the dead, and the word of His miraculous powers had spread. People were convinced Jesus was the king the Scriptures had promised would liberate them from the Romans and restore the kingdom of Israel.

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the people waved their palm branches and worshipped Jesus, calling Him the King of Israel in fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy. See Zechariah 9:9. The religious leaders asked Jesus to correct those worshipping Him, but Jesus refused because the people were correct: He was their King, He had come to establish His kingdom, and He was worthy of their worship.

I’ve stood on that path leading up to Jerusalem, just under the walls of the city, and as I stood there I realized just how bold Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was. There would have been Roman soldiers stationed on the walls as Jesus rode into the city being hailed by the people as their new king. It was gutsy. It was bold. But it was entirely appropriate. Jesus was the King of kings, even over the Romans.

For the people watching these events unfold on Palm Sunday, it must have been very exciting. They must have thought Jesus was going to topple Herod and then take on the Romans.  A man who could raise another man from the dead was certainly capable of all of that. They must have tingled with anticipation of how Jesus would use His power to assert His kingly authority.

But in what must have been a surprise to all, upon entering Jerusalem, Jesus went to the temple,  looked around, left, and returned the next day to cleanse the temple of all its corrupt influences. Rather than cleansing the city of Romans and Herodians, Jesus cleansed the temple of corruption.

The key to the expansion of God’s kingdom on the earth is not a successful political coup or a Supreme Court packed with your political party’s favorites but a cleansed and changed people. Those who choose to follow Jesus are the temple of the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians 6:19-20. It is the cleansing of that temple that is the key to the expansion of the kingdom of God on earth because it is changed people who change the world. GS

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