Read Mark 11:1-11
Jesus walked 120 miles from Capernaum to Jerusalem to attend the Passover feast in Jerusalem. He walked south down the east side of the Jordan River, crossing over and heading toward Jerusalem through Jericho. The gospel writer Mark tells us in chapter 10 of His account that as Jesus left Jericho there was a large crowd following Him.
The large crowd and commotion drew the attention of a blind man named Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus shouted out for Jesus, and Jesus stopped and healed Bartimaeus.
In addition to healing Bartimaeus, Jesus performed many miracles during His 3 year ministry. Just a short time earlier, He raised Lazarus from the dead. He healed every kind of sickness, and Bartimaeus was not the only blind person to receive sight.
From that day to this, people have sought out Jesus for their own reasons. Some want healing for sickness. Some want deliverance from slavery or bondage to habit. Some want wisdom and direction for life. Some want health and happiness for family and/or friends. Some want political and economic solutions. Some want power, peace or prosperity.
We all need hope. We need hope that life is worth living.
We all face challenges.
Challenges come in all shapes and sizes. Challenges can be financial, physical, health, family, economic, political, legal and the list can get long.
Jesus is our hope. No matter the challenge, Jesus is the answer.
For thousands of years before His birth, those who knew God looked forward to God sending His anointed One, His King. This promised One was the hope of the world, for political and personal problems. The Jewish nation was entrusted with the Word of God and carried this hope. To this day, the Jewish people carry on the traditions that look forward to the coming of this hope.
For those who care to accept it, Jesus is the promised hope of the world. Jesus is the promised Messiah, the anointed One of Israel. Jesus is the great and coming King.
Those who pursue money, fitness, health, happiness and/or all that this world has to offer miss the true meaning of life. They miss what they were created for. God created each person unique, and loves each one individually. Each individual can only find true meaning in God. This is where hope is.
Jesus showed He is the Hope of the world when He rode into Jerusalem at the beginning of His passion week.
First, we see this in the way He came.
He came fulfilling prophecy.
The prophecy, given 500 years before Jesus was born, is found in Zechariah 9:9. It says, “Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey--riding on a donkey's colt.”[i]
This is exactly how Jesus came. He came triumphantly. He knew He was coming to give His life as a ransom for many, and yet His coming was triumphant and joyful.
It was also in perfect timing.
Daniel 9:24 says: "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy Place."
The idiom of a "week" of years was common in Israel. The prophecy encompasses seventy weeks, that is, seventy times seven years, or 490 years. However verse 26 indicates that there is an interval between the 69th and 70th weeks. A very specific prediction occurs in the next verse: "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times (Daniel 9:25).” The Jewish (and Babylonian) calendars used a 360-day year; 69 weeks of 360-day years totals 173,880 days. In effect, Gabriel told Daniel that the interval between the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem until the presentation of the Messiah as King would be 173,880 days.
The commandment to restore and build Jerusalem was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus on March 14, 445 BC.
On [that] day [Jesus] rode into the city of Jerusalem riding on a donkey, deliberately fulfilling a prophecy by Zechariah that the Messiah would present Himself as king in just that way: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass (Zechariah 9:9)."
This is the only occasion that Jesus presented Himself as King. It occurred on April 6, 32 AD. When we examine the period between March 14, 445 BC and April 6, 32 AD, and correct for leap years, we discover that it is 173,880 days exactly, to the very day![ii]
Jesus also came making prophecies of His own.
He walked approximately 6 days to get to Jerusalem. With no way of communicating to any one in advance, Jesus was able to tell His disciples exactly where they would find a donkey and what would be said.
Throughout His ministry, Jesus demonstrated this supernatural power or knowledge. He confronted His detractors about unspoken thoughts, demonstrated knowledge of the details of the lives of complete strangers.
He still does this. Scripture tells us that He knows the very hairs on our head. He knows the words we mean to speak before we speak them.
Jesus shows He is the hope of the world by both giving and fulfilling prophecy. He is so in control of the events of History to be able to tell exactly what is going to happen hundreds of years before it happens. He has promised to come back and make everything right, establish peace and justice and to take away tears and suffering.
Besides fulfilling prophecy, Jesus showed He was the hope of the world by accepting the praises of His people.
Crazy people, megalomaniacs and deceivers also accept praise. However, by looking at the fruit of their lives and by reading what they said we can easily identify these imposters.
Hitler, Stalin, Nero and such accepted praise and their legacy in history is that of monsters, murders and liars. There are hardly any redeeming factors to their reigns.
As an extreme opposite, Jesus’s life has changed the world for the better. One has only to read what Jesus said to know that He was not crazy, a megalomaniac or a deceiver. No one in history has ever taught with such wisdom, insight and understanding.
The main word in the people’s praise carried the message of the triumph that Jesus carried with Him. Jesus was entering into Jerusalem in victory.
The people were shouting, “Hosanna, Hosanna.”
This would be like people in our day shouting, “SAVE NOW, SAVE NOW, SAVE NOW, SAVE NOW.”
This is exactly what Jesus came to do. There could be no more appropriate praise. Luke 19 tells us:
39But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!”
40He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”
He is worthy of all of our praise. Acts 4:12 says, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved."
Jesus showed He is the hope of the world by fulfilling prophecy and by accepting the praises of His people. He also showed He is the hope of the world by what He expected in return.
Mark 11:11 says, “So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. After looking around carefully at everything, he left because it was late in the afternoon. Then he returned to Bethany with the twelve disciples.”
What was He looking for? Why did He look around carefully?
Throughout the week, Jesus gave hints of what He was looking for.
He cleansed the temple, accusing them of making His Father’s house a den of thieves rather than a house of prayer.
He cursed the fig tree. This was a symbolic gesture pointing to the fruitless condition of the nation. It was a picture prophecy of what happened to Jerusalem in 70 AD when Titus and company destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.
He gave the parable of the evil farmers who killed everyone the landlord sent to collect the rent, including the landlord’s own son. This was a clear reference to the reception Jesus received from the nation’s leadership. They knew He was talking about them, and they tried all the harder to kill Him for it.
The cleansing, the fig tree and the parable all point to what Jesus was looking for. He was looking for true, unfeigned religion. By religion, I mean love for God. This is the first and greatest commandment. “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)
He is still looking for the same thing.
“It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)
“And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:36)
[i] Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Steam, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.