A DIFFERENT JESUS

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The week before Easter or the Passover week is a wonderful time to meditate on the passion of Christ and what it means to us as Christians who hold dear the salvation that was effected on the cross. But this week also brought to light many faces of Jesus hitherto not revealed in his life and brief ministry.

On Hosanna or Palm Sunday, we see Jesus triumphantly entering Jerusalem acknowledging the shouts of people hailing him as king. Prior to this episode, we see Jesus shunning publicity and resisting people’s efforts to install him as king of the Jews. Yet here unabashedly, he rides into Jerusalem.

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 “Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ “ (Mat 21).

We may ask, ‘why the difference now?’ Sensing that his ministry was coming to a close and also to its most important point of culmination on the cross, Jesus allows those around him to hail him as their king and Savior, which he truly was. The only anomaly was that the people thought he would be different Savior- one who would bring political freedom rather than the spiritual Savior that he was always meant to be. This bold act not only fulfilled prophecy but also set in motion the aggravated opposition from the Jews that would culminate in his crucifixion.

Then we see an image of Jesus in the Temple, violent and angry- overturning the tables of the money-lenders and those who had gotten comfortable in abusing God’s Holy place for their financial gain.

12 Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, ” ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’ “ (Mat 21)

He is no longer the compassionate healer or the gentle teacher, but an instrument of God’s judgment. How easy it is to forget that aspect of God wherein He will one day judge the earth and will have no tolerance for evil. There will be no place to run to or hide from the wrath of God as he judges the world in righteousness.

Gethsemane is another image that stands out during this vital phase. It is a touching moment in the life of Jesus when the humanity of Jesus confronts the enormity of the task laid out before him- to bear the sins of the entire world at the moment of crucifixion that was to follow.

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Mat 26).

This is as good as it gets as a lesson for us to face the overwhelming challenges laid out before us- on our knees, with much prayer and petition and receive strength from God when we have no where else to go.

The many different faces of Jesus, with many different lessons for us who follow him.

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