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Sixth Sunday in Lent - Investiga

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					                 “Investigate” – Luke throughout Lent
                         Sixth Sunday in Lent
                          Sun 1st March 2007
                                     “Pride & Prejudice”
                                       Luke 19: 29 - 48
              I) Introduction                  II) Arrival               III) Departure


I) Introduction
Over the past six weeks, we have been spending time in a brief series of studies entitled
(Slide 1) “Investigate – Luke throughout Lent”. During this period running up to Easter we
have been focussing on the life and ministry of Jesus as we have sought to explore in detail
what it meant to come into contact with Jesus for the first time and to also ask the question
what does it mean to follow Christ today?

However, we also noted that this is not always easy. (Slide 2) Today we live in a world
dominated by emails, the internet, mobile phones, MP3 players, satellite television and
multiplex cinemas. And in addition to this, we have also realised that Luke’s Gospel seems to
be set in a world of far away and long ago, a world unfamiliar to us today.

To make matters worse we also recognised the truth of what Michael Wilcock, a New
Testament scholar, writes in his book entitled “The Message of Luke Today”, (Slide 3) "if
there is one thing harder than to chart a region where the foot of man has seldom trod it is to
produce a worthwhile guide book to a place that everyone knows already".1

However, what we have discovered is that when we begin to read the Gospel more closely we
see in fact that the opposite is the case. We have discovered that Luke is writing about real
people struggling with everyday problems. Family problems, ill health, seemingly
unanswered prayer and asking the question “Where is God” when I need him?

We have also discovered that when someone comes face to face with Jesus they are often
overwhelmed by the power of God’s love and grace and they in turn discover that they have
become profoundly and deeply transformed and are quite simply never the same again.

We have also looked in detail at the identity of Jesus and we have seen on each occasion that
he is the messiah the “Christ of God” who has come into the world to bring us into an
intimate relationship with God. Such a relationship brings to us an overwhelming sense of
peace and forgiveness and purpose and meaning to life as our lives are transformed by the
grace of God. We have also noted that following Christ is not an easy and demands
commitment, faith and trust. Last week we looked at what is arguably the best known of all
parables, the parable of the “Prodigal Son” and we finished our time together by looking at
the love of a Father for his children.


1
    Michael Wilcock, The Message of Luke, (Leicester, IVP, 1979), p.11


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Back in 1997 another well known story was broadcast by the BBC. The series ran for several
Sundays evenings and was an extremely popular version of the best selling novel “Pride and
Prejudice” by Jane Austen. (Slide 4) The two main characters, Miss Elizabeth Bennet and
Mr Darcy held viewers spell bound for weeks as a relationship which began with “Pride and
Prejudice” being exhibited by both characters and their families developed into one of love
and respect. The title of the book helpfully summed up the attitudes of many of the
characters involved. A more recent cinema version with Keria Knightley also proved to be a
box office success.

II) Arrival
Likewise, the title of the book could well be applied to the attitude of some of the main
characters in our study this morning. (Slide 5) Luke 19: 29 – 48 describes the events which
lead up to what is known as Jesus “triumphal entry into Jerusalem” and is traditionally known
as Palm Sunday.

This passage in many ways reflects upon one of the major themes which have run throughout
Luke’s Gospel. That is a sense of journey and discovery. In the opening chapters we have
Mary journeying to her cousin Elizabeth to share together in what God was doing in their
lives. This is followed by Joseph and Mary making their way to Bethlehem which is followed
later in the same chapter by Jesus as a twelve year old getting separated from his parents
while they journeyed home. At various times throughout the Gospel we see Jesus involved in
a number of journeys and those around him discovering exactly who he is and the grace of
God which results in the transformation of their lives.

However, there is an additional emphasis which we have mentioned in passing in previous
weeks but today helps set the context for our study. At Luke 9:51 we read “As the time
approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem”. There
are another six passages which directly highlight the crucial importance of the death of Jesus
at Jerusalem. The significant point to recognise is that Jesus himself “resolutely set out for
Jerusalem”. The importance of this point cannot be over emphasised. It reveals to us and
reminds us that the death of Jesus was not the primary result of Judas betrayal. Nor is it, as a
result of the jealousy of the Pharisees at Jesus growing popularity. Nor is it, as a result of
Pilate’s weakness in political leadership. All of these issues played there part. But the over
arching primary reason for the death of Christ Luke tells us is his father’s love for humanity.
That is the single most important emphasis of Luke’s Gospel and we see it again in this
passage as Jesus finally approaches Jerusalem fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies while
revealing himself to be the saviour of the world.

In previous chapters Luke has been creating in the minds of his readers a sense of anticipation
and expectation as he builds on Jesus predictions of his own death and now the tension begins
to mount in the final days as Jesus life as he draws closer to Jerusalem. Luke draws his
reader’s attention to this by emphasising the significance of Jerusalem as he mentions it again
in v28 and v41.

But before we go any further this morning we have a problem. Imagine yourself living in a
remote spot in the Scottish highlands. You live in a house close to a very popular hill
walking area. Occasionally you will sit outside in the garden nodding and welcoming the
walkers as they pass by. As you sit there you may chat to the person next to you about the



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suitability of the weather, the appropriateness of the clothing which the walkers are wearing
and the difficulty of the terrain ahead.

For you each of these issues are theoretical. You are not actively involved in the walking.
You are a spectator. You have the luxury of sitting back and casually commenting. But for
the hill walkers the situation is very different. All that you have touched upon are issues
which they will need to address. To complete the walk they will require perseverance and
commitment. Hard work and preparation for what lies ahead.

Jesus is coming towards the end of his life. He knows what is coming. Jerusalem has been on
his mind for a long time. His entire life and ministry have lead up to this point. The issues
which he has been facing over the last three years are not theoretical. There is no sitting back
casually observing others. No sense of being a spectator.

Over these last few Sundays together as we have studied Luke’s Gospel together let me ask
you what has been going on inside. Deep down in your heart and soul. Have you moved
from being a casual spectator to a follower of Christ? It may be that some years a go you
were a very active follower but at some point you have stop at the side of the road and more
recently you have watched others going by. Some of them have been gone along way.
Today the have a faith that is bright and clear. They see God answering their prayers they are
growing in faith and God is obvious at work. Today may well be the time for you to move to
take up a new position. To begin again that journey of faith. A Journey which is at times
very difficult. A journey which demands perseverance and commitment. But a journey which
is always worth the effort, as God is at the heart of it.

The disciples which had been following Jesus over the last three years and many others in the
crowd realised the significance of Jesus coming into Jerusalem at the time of the Passover.
The Passover was one of the major religious festivals of the day. It was a time when families
from all over Israel travelled together up to the city to celebrate what God had done in freeing
them from slavery in Egypt hundreds of years before.

Jerusalem would be crowded. Political feelings would be running high. Many of the people
felt that the presence of Roman governors and troops in their region was oppressive and they
longed for a change in the political landscape. A change which would allow the people of
Israel to govern their own affairs. In addition to that as a nation they were looking for the
promised messiah. A figure which the Old Testament promised would come and free them
and bring justice and peace to all of Israel.

With this political back drop combined with the unprecedented miracles of Jesus and his
growing popularity as a rabbi or teacher many were looking to Jesus to free them.

It may well have been a combination of these issues which prompted the response of the
people around Jesus which (Slide 5) V37 tells us “When he came near the place where the
road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise
God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: "Blessed is the king who comes in the
name of the Lord!" "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"

The significant point here is that they “Praised God”. Think of that. What had happened in
their lives which moved them to such a position? Now, we are aware of the fact that



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Jerusalem was in the midst of celebrating the Passover. But nowhere does Luke suggest that
this praise was insincere or out of place.

Let me ask you, can you openly and honestly tell me when was the last time you began to
think of who God is, his love and grace, his hand upon your life drawing you closer to
himself, for his persevering with you when often we have not persevered with him? Has
these moments moved you to praise and worship and adoration? Now please do not
misunderstand me. I am not in any way suggesting that you stop in the middle of a crowded
shopping area and begin to sing a hymn or pray out loud. But has there been that quiet
conviction of his love and concern and care for you that you have prayerfully responded by
offering up a prayer of thankfulness for the intimacy which he brings and the transformation
that he brings into your life?

When people begin to enter into a deeper relationship with God than they have previously,
praise will play a significant part in that developing, growing love for God. You discover an
appetite for the things of God. You discover that you want to read his word. That you have a
desire for prayer. You want to be at church. God begins to play a growing and significant part
in your daily routine as you seek to raise children, go about your working day, face up to
some of the major decisions in your life.

However when this begins to be obvious some people around you may wish to discourage
you. In the passage we read at V39;(Slide 6) Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to
Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"

Now why did they say this? Please remember that the Pharisees may have been wary of all
of the commotion as the noise they were making may be over heard. This is significant as
they were calling out that Jesus was a king and the ascription of royalty which was now being
given to Christ may result in serious persecution. Any man who made himself a king set
himself up in opposition to Caesar and Roman authority. If the Governor heard this and if
his mood at the time were unfavourable he might even send the soldiers to put down a
suspected uprising.

III) The Departure
However there appears to be more than this in the thinking of the Pharisees. A little further on
in the chapter at V47 we read “Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief
priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill
him.”

Why were they so upset? What was it about Jesus that they disliked to the point of wanting
to see him dead? What you need to remember for all of this to begin to make sense is that as
far as the Pharisees were concerned faith amounted to rules, requirements and regulations. Of
being obsessed with duty and external conduct which promoted a system of a harsh
judgemental attitude that quickly degenerated into an external performance rather than
internal authenticity.

Jesus stood for something very different. He was preaching about the reality of God in the
lives of ordinary men and women. He talked of a God who was just, loving and kind and
forgiving. A God who you could actually know. A God who transformed the lives of all
people. A God who so impacted the lives of others that they were given a new heart and soul,



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new motivations, new desire and a God to love and praise and one which you in turned
wanted to follow.

AS a result everything that the Pharisees stood for was under attack. Their power and
influence would be taken away. Their position in the community would be lost. They would
no longer have the position of power they once had. It once for all these reasons that they
wanted to get rid of Jesus.

The amazing thing in all of this is that these were the religious leaders of their day. This was
not some young radical who had a grudge against Jesus but this was a group from within the
established order who sought to kill him. Can you see the idea of Pride and Prejudice raising
its ugly head. It was now so prominent that the death of Jesus was justified on the basis of
religious belief.

In order to understand the final complexities of this please note that in v45; Then he entered
the temple area and began driving out those who were selling.(Slide 7) "It is written," he said
to them, "'My house will be a house of prayer'; but you have made it 'a den of robbers'."

Imagine what Jesus was seeing and how he would feel as he entered the temple area. What a
sorry sight greets his eyes, his ears, and his nose. The temple now resembles a market place.
Rows and rows of caged animals already to be bought then sacrificed. Some are selling oxen
others sheep. Think of the noise, the filth, the stench. Because it is the Passover feast
pilgrims from all over the world would be there, paying high prices for animals to sacrifice. It
may be that the temple merchants have paid the temple authorities well for the allowing them
to operate in the temple precincts and business is booming.

Now we begin to understand why Jesus responded in the way that he did. Is there anything
more repellent, obnoxious, and detestable than turning a place of prayer into a “Den of
Robbers”? Reducing that which is Godly, good, right for personal financial gain.

And so Jesus not only rids the temple of the merchants but now uses it for teaching the people
of an intimate, holy, loving Father. Not a God who is far away or disinterested but one you
can know and follow. Does you own mind not go back to an earlier chapter at the beginning
of Luke when once again we see him in the temple. When he was asked them what was he
doing he responded by saying do you not know I am about “My Father’s business”.

So how do we respond to all that we have listened to today. We have seen the “Pride and
Prejudice of some of the characters involved. We have seen Jesus arrive in Jerusalem and as
we move to the climax of the story we have also seen that Jesus was seeking purity in place
worship. And we have also seen the Pharisees attempted to organise Jesus departure.

So this week read the remaining four chapters of Luke’s Gospel in preparation for next
Sunday when we come to the closing chapter. And as you do please remember this.

       He was the bread of life, yet was racked with hunger
       He was the water of life, yet he had to beg Samaritan women for a drink
       He was the door into heaven, yet there was no room for him in the inn
       He flung the stars into space and yet needed an oil lamp to light his room
       He was adored by angels and called a devil by men
       He formulated the laws of motion yet chose to ride on a donkey


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       He was the redeemer of the world and was sold for 30 pieces of silver
       In Him was life, and He became obedient unto death.

Let us pray.
                                 _____________________




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