Saturday, March 16, 2013

Up to Jerusalem!

After Yeshua’s transfiguration, the focus of His ministry changed. We read that He set His heart steadfastly toward Jerusalem.

Luke 9:51-52 NKJV 51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face.

The time of His crucifixion was drawing close and He was drawn inevitably to Jerusalem. But before He gets there, He must journey throughout the land of Israel. It is around this time that He sends out the seventy messengers to go before Him into all the cities which He would visit.

Luke 10:1 NKJV 1 After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.

Their instructions were to go only where they were welcomed, heal the sick, and spread the news that the kingdom of God is near.

Luke 10:8-9 NKJV 8 "Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. 9 "And heal the sick there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'

Seventy is a significant number. It is composed of seven and ten. Seven is the number of spiritual completion and ten is the number for the end or completion of a cycle. The number of Jacob’s sons that went into captivity were seventy; according to which the number of the nations of the world was determined. Symbolically, we can see that Yeshua sent out all the sons of Jacob—all the children of the nations that belong to Him. We can also see that a cycle had been completed. Yeshua’s ministry on earth was reaching an end that would bring in spiritual completion.

The seventy disciples return rejoicing in the miracles done through them by the power of God. Imagine the excitement that must have been rippling through the entire land of Israel. Seventy disciples sent out in pairs to visit all the cities that Yeshua would visit; thirty-five cities at a time visited by the power of the Holy Spirit, healing the city and proclaiming the kingdom of God. Then Yeshua visits and the excitement reaches fever pitch. Not surprisingly, multitudes begin to follow. Excitement continues to build. The crowds grow so large they begin to trample one another.

Luke 12:1 NKJV 1 In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another …

Yeshua continues to travel through the cities and villages, teaching as He journeyed toward Jerusalem. He didn’t take a straight line path, but went throughout Judea and Samaria one last time before arriving at Jerusalem for a final Passover. It is interesting that the gospel of Luke introduces us to the boy Yeshua for the first time as Yeshua journeys with His family to Jerusalem for the Passover.

As He journeys, He heals the sick and casts out demons all the while preaching the Kingdom of God. He warns that those who would be His disciple must put Him first. (Luke 12).  He warns that those who follow Him must be fruitful (Luke 12, 13). He teaches that those who would follow Him need to focus on the message of the Kingdom of God not things of this world (Luke 14). The Pharisees and scribes confront him with their doubts; the multitudes follow Him because to the miracles He does. Some follow out of faith, and cry out to Him in faith. But throughout His journeys, the multitude continues to grow.

Finally, as he approaches Jericho before taking the long road through the mountains up to Jerusalem, the multitudes continue to follow Him. A blind beggar hears the crowd and asks who is coming. He had obviously heard of “Jesus of Nazareth” or, in Hebrew, Yeshua haNatzerat, because He immediately cries out naming Yeshua, “the Son of David.”

Luke 18:35-38 NKJV 35 Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. 36 And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. 37 So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38 And he cried out, saying, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

Yeshua healed the blind man and all the people gave praise to God. This is the scene as Yeshua enters Jericho and goes on toward Jerusalem. The multitudes are ready to proclaim that Yeshua is the King of Israel! Yeshua, of course, knows this and tells them a parable warning them that the kingdom of God would not be established immediately.

Luke 19:11 NKJV 11 Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.

In the parable, He warns them that the master who departs on a long journey expects his servants to work for him in his absence. Yeshua knew that this was not the time that His kingdom would be established. Yet, He allows the multitude that follows Him to proclaim that He is King. Indeed, He proclaims His right to the Kingship by His entry into Jerusalem.

Imagine this scene. The multitudes have come from all over Israel. They’ve followed Him until; finally, it is the time of the Passover. At the original Passover, God sent Moses to take them out of bondage to Pharaoh in Egypt to receive the Promised Land. Will Yeshua, the Son of David, the promised King of Israel, deliver them from Roman rule and restore the Kingdom of Israel? Yeshua comes riding into Jerusalem from the east through the gate called Beautiful.

Luke 19:33-38 NKJV 33 But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, "Why are you loosing the colt?" 34 And they said, "The Lord has need of him." 35 Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. 36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road. 37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying:" 'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!' Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"

Zechariah writes of the King coming in humility to Jerusalem.

Zechariah 9:9 NKJV 9 "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.

Luke 19:39-40 NKJV 39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." 40 But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."

But Yeshua’s time to establish His earthly kingdom was not yet. The context of this prophecy in Zechariah is the establishment of the nation of Israel as the pre-eminent nation. The King of Israel will have dominion over all the earth.

Zechariah 9:10-11 NKJV 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall 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 your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.

Even at His ascension, forty days after His resurrection, when His disciples asked if the time had come Yeshua side-stepped their question.

Acts 1:7-8 NKJV 7 And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

What, then, is the purpose of this grand procession into Jerusalem? Yeshua is the Son of David who will reign over the nations from His throne in Jerusalem. But first, He had to die to redeem His subjects, His people from slavery to sin. Yeshua communicated His mission to His disciples as they were on the final leg of their journey to Jerusalem.

Luke 18:31-33 NKJV 31 Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. 32 "For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. 33 "They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again."

The prophet Isaiah wrote about the need for the Messiah to die for the iniquities of His people.

Isaiah 53:3-5 NKJV 3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

The purpose, then, was first to communicate that He is the rightful King. He is the one Isaiah wrote about who would die and then reign.

Isaiah 53:10 NKJV 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.

He lets His followers know that He is the rightful King, but He isn’t going to reign just yet. This was a paradigm shift for the Jewish people of that day. They weren’t looking for the same “man” to be both the suffering servant who would die for them and the ruling king. The purpose is also prophetic. Like all the scripture, it is about Him. He is letting us know that He will return, and gather all His followers, not only from Israel, but from the entire world. He will enter through the east gate to the cries of His people, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" Yeshua, Himself, prophecies about His return.

Luke 13:35 NKJV 35 "See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!'"

Imagine that you are in the crowd following Yeshua into Jerusalem. As you follow Yeshua up to Jerusalem, will you count the cost? Will you put Yeshua and the message before everything else? Will you be the faithful servant who diligently works to build His Kingdom until He comes? As we approach the day of Passover, the anniversary of Yeshua’s death and, three days later, His resurrection, read Luke 9 through 24, and meditate on His message to those who would follow Him.

Shalom and be blessed,
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

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