2 April 2023
Today we begin Holy Week and the final few days as we journey towards the cross.
This is the chapter that I said we would return to, chapter 21. Here we have Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem for the one and only time as far as Matthew is concerned. Again, there are some details in this telling that are quite different from the other gospels and some that we know well – so listen when we read this, don’t assume you know the story.
As far as Matthew is concerned Jesus enters the city as the King. There are crowds involved shouting Hosannas, and they are moving ahead of Jesus as well as behind. We are also told that the whole city was in turmoil asking who is this man on the donkey(s). Jesus is named as King, the Son of David, but he is also referred to as a prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.
We are given the impression that immediately following Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem that he enters the temple and drives out the people, particularly those who are selling and buying in the temple. Unlike the other gospels there is no mention of Jesus’ emotion state of mind here. We are not told that he is angry although his words could be seen to express some anger or frustration at the way the temple is being used.
Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was making a huge statement, and he got a big response. He did not stop there, but continued on to the temple where Matthew records his deliberate actions. We tend to separate these, ending at verse 13 but Matthew put them together, deliberately adding verses 14-16, clearing the traders went along with healing the sick, giving sight to the blind. The temple is for those who come, in need, for prayer and healing, not for maintaining the income streams or protecting the furnishings.
How is this reflected in our churches? When folk wander past, do they see an open door? How often do we see “All Welcome” signs, but the doors are locked, except for a few hours a week? How open are we to meet and hear the need of those around us and our churches?
I think last Sunday, Neighbour Day, welcomed a large number of people from our local community and gave them a chance to see who we are and how we live. The energy for this came from gathering for worship in the morning, but what followed was the gathering of the people to share together in all sorts of ways.