Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Day 140: Luke 19:28-48 & Psalm 136 - Why Did the Crowd Say "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!"?

Today's Reading: Luke 19:28-48 & Psalm 136

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Why Did the Crowd Say
"Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!"?

As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 
- Luke 19:37-39, ESV

When the crowds gathered to welcome Jesus during His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the Gospels tell us they shouted, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!" Matthew, Mark and John also tell us that they crowds shouted "Hosanna!" So, why are these words so important? What do they mean? And why did the Pharisees in the crowd who heard the people shouting this tell Jesus to rebuke them for saying it?

The crowd in Jerusalem was quoting Psalm 118. Verses 25-26 say, "Save us, we pray, O Lord! . . . Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Save us" is the Hebrew word "Hosanna!" 

Psalm 118 is a victory psalm, a song of thanksgiving for deliverance from enemies. The crowd was shouting these verses because they believed Jesus was the Messiah, and they were excited to see Him accomplish what Psalm 118 says about the Gentiles ("nations") who oppress God's people:

All nations surrounded me;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them off! - Psalm 118:10-11, ESV

The Pharisees wanted Jesus to rebuke the crowd because they were afraid that Rome would crack down violently on a political uprising centered on a would-be Messiah. But Jesus did not rebuke the crowd because He knew the truth. He knew that Psalm 118 did, in fact, describe Him, but not in the way the crowd expected. 

Right before the lines that the crowd was shouting, verses 20-23 give Jesus' mission as He headed into Jerusalem:

This is the gate of the Lord;
    the righteous shall enter through it.
I thank you that you have answered me
    and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.
This is the Lord's doing;
    it is marvelous in our eyes. - vv. 20-23

Jesus not only entered Jerusalem through a gate, but He came into Jerusalem as "the gate of the Lord." He was coming to become our salvation. He was coming as the stone, rejected by the builders, who would become the cornerstone of God's house. He was coming to do the Lord's work, to fulfill the purposes of God. 

So, even though the crowds did not understand what they were shouting, they were right: Jesus did come in the name of the Lord to save them - not from Rome, but from themselves, from their sin and death and condemnation. He would do it by being rejected and condemned in our place, by becoming our salvation.

Prayer Based on Psalm 136:

We give thanks to You, Lord, 
for Your steadfast love, 
      Your covenant mercy, 
      Your tenderness and faithfulness
never fail. They endure forever!

You made the heavens and the earth, 
spreading the stars and and ordering creation with wisdom and love.

You delivered Your people,
from Egypt and from the nations, 
and ultimately from sin and death and hell itself!

We give thanks to You, O Lord, for Your saving power and steadfast love endure forever! 

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