Day Thirty: Friday, July 17th, 2020
Bible Lesson: Matthew 21
Reflection from Pastor Wayne Eberly:
“A marvelous rejection?”
Marvelous and rejection are not often paired together. Perhaps if we were dealing with an evil figure, a despised figure, a figure who has been the source of conflict, one who has used their position of authority to boost their own power while subjecting others to shame and ridicule, perhaps the rejection of one such as this would be marvelous. But that is not the case with Jesus. Jesus was a preacher who brought good news. Jesus was a teacher whose words had authority and brought life. Jesus was a healer who restored the health of many. Jesus was a worker of wonders whose acts of kindness and generosity blessed the multitudes. For one such as Jesus to be rejected is not marvelous…is it?
Chapter 21 brings us to Jerusalem. A quick review of the predictions Jesus has made alert us to the danger that awaits Jesus in Jerusalem.
- “Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. (Matthew 16:21)
- “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” (Matthew 17:22,23)
- “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death…” (Matthew 20:18)
The triumphal entry, what we know as Palm Sunday, is glorious with the crowds spreading their cloaks on the road, cutting branches from trees and spreading those on the ground, and shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” But that celebrated entrance is followed by the scene in the temple courts where Jesus drives out the money changers. In response to all this, “The chief priests and teachers of the law were indignant.” (Matthew 21:15) The authority of Jesus is questioned in Matthew 21:23-27. And then he tells a parable about rejection.
As you read The Parable of the Tenants, found in verses 33-40 of Matthew 21, watch for the theme of rejection. As Jesus links the parable to the passage from Psalm 118 where the stone the builders rejected becomes the capstone, watch for the introduction of the word marvelous. Matthew is preparing us to witness the rejection of Jesus, which will ultimately end in his death. Matthew is preparing us to read beyond his death to the amazing gift of resurrection life, which is truly marvelous. A marvelous rejection.
We have completed six weeks and 21 chapters in the Gospel of Matthew. The next two weeks and the last seven chapters will reveal to us the good news of the gospel, the rejection of Jesus, which through the power of God’s redeeming love will bring us the marvelous gift of eternal life.
“Cast your sins from yourself upon Christ, believe with a festive spirit that your sins are his
wounds and sufferings, that he carries them and makes satisfaction for them, as Isaiah 53:6 says: ‘The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all;’ and Peter writes ‘Who in his own self bore our sins in his body upon the tree’, (I Peter 2:24,; and Paul in II Corinthians 5:21, ‘God made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf; that we might becomes the righteousness of God in him.’” Martin Luther wrote these words as he reflected on the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, as the crowd cried out, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Sermons of Martin Luther, Volumes 1 and 2, p. 189)