Jesus’ Triumphant Entry – Palm Sunday Exegetical Study Part 2

This is a 5 step exegetical study of Matthew 21:1-11. This passage of Scripture is usually labeled to be a narrative of “Jesus’ Triumphant Entry” and it is often times remembered the Sunday before Easter, often times called Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday. Part 1 contains Steps 1 and 2 of this 5 step exegetical study: “Text and Translation Notes” and “Literary Analysis.”  Part 2 contains Steps 3, 4, and 5 of this 5 step exegetical study: “Historical-Cultural Context,” “The Broader Biblical and Historical Confession,” and “Personal and Pastoral Application.”

Palm Sunday 2

Part III – Historical-Cultural Context

What is the significance of riding a donkey?

Smith expresses that by choosing to enter the city on a donkey, Jesus was in no way acting unroyal, but instead acting as a king in time of peace, not needing to enter with the show of chariots, horses, and weapons of war.  (Smith, 244)

Is there any indication as to what the crowds expected of Jesus through their actions in this text?

The recounting of this entry into Jerusalem occurs on a church calendar day, often times called, Palm Sunday.  As noted in Part I, Matthew’s text does not say that the branches that were cut were palm branches.  Only John mentions palm branches, which were an “ancient symbol of victory and glory” (Smith, 244).”  Since palms symbolized victory, Leon Morris suggests that “it would seem that […] these people were trying to make a political messiah out of him” (Morris, 518).  By Jesus sending for the donkey, as we see from the Synoptists, we can then understand “by his symbolic action that he was not the potential overthrower of the Romans that the crowds would dearly have loved to see” (Morris, 519).  The impression then is that the crowds expected Jesus to rise to kingship through a revolt that they were willing to back him in through their shown enthusiasm.  This is not however why Jesus was entering into the city.  He came as the King of Peace, bringing peace between God and man through the shedding of his blood.

Unknowingly they were selecting their Passover lamb. 

According to Exodus 12, on the tenth day of Nisan the Jews were to select a year-old lamb that was without defect.  They were to keep this lamb in their household until the fourteenth day of Nisan when they were to kill it without breaking its bones and cover their doorframes with its blood in preparation for the Passover.  The day that Jesus entered Jerusalem was the tenth of Nisan.  The crowds that thought they were selecting their king (potentially some or maybe most even thought he was their Maccabean-style Roman Overthrowing Messiah) were unknowingly selecting their Passover lamb who was in their midst in Jerusalem and in the temple every day until his death, in which his bones were not broken and whose blood they asked to be on the them and their children, not the doors of their homes.  (Matthew 27:25)

Part IV – The Broader Biblical and Historical Confession

Though it is not in the Book of Concord, Luther’s Small Catechism has often times had an accompanying explanation section that wasn’t written by Luther.  In Concordia Publishing Houses 2017, “An Explanation of the Small Catechism,” the question, “What does it mean that our Lord Jesus is called the Christ,” has the following answered supplied:

In the Old Testament, God set certain people apart as prophets, priests, and kings by anointing them with oil.  The title Christ or Messiah means “Anointed One.”  In the New Testament, Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit to be our Prophet, Priest, and King.  (“Explanation of Small Catechism”, p. 192)

To answer the question, “What does it mean for us to speak of Jesus as our Priest,” the answer supplied is: “As our Priest, Jesus offered Himself as the sacrifice for our sin, and He intercedes with the Father on our behalf” (“Explanation of Small Catechism”, p. 193)

In light of this broader Biblical and historical confession, we realize that the crowds that claimed Jesus as their king with Messianic titles and proclaimed him as a prophet failed to recognize or understand the necessary work of his third office of priest. It isn’t until after Jesus is raised from the dead that the Old Testament Scriptures are opened up to the disciples to understand why the Messiah had to suffer and die as their high priest.

Part V – Personal and Pastoral Application

Like the crowds in this passage, Christians, in our sinfulness, far too often approach Jesus (or the Triune God) with expectations and understandings of who he is and what his work is to be that are contrary to how he is revealed to us in Scripture.

For instance, we might approach God as a Black Hawk Helicopter God. We expect him to swoop in and save us from all of our trials and tribulations. But is such deliverance from all earthly afflictions promised in Scripture? No, it’s not. God is not a Black Hawk Helicopter God.

Another example of a false approach is to treat God as a magic genie! We simply approach him again and again for things that we need and want, and that’s it. That’s the bulk of our interaction with him. What happens when such prayers are not answered in the affirmative? Will our faith be shaken? Will others who are not Christians, laugh and mock our God for not responding to our prayers as we expect him to?

Sometimes we treat God as a vending machine. We expect to get blessings from him, but they come at an expense! We have to pay in some fashion to receive God’s gifts. We treat all of our dealings with God in transactional terms: I prayed; I went to Church; I went on that mission trip; so I expect x, y, or z, from you in return, God!  For me now, the temptation is to approach God in this fashion, expecting him to come through with a call to a church that meets my desires (or more like my wife’s desires) and to leave here debt free with enough money stockpiled for a down payment on a home – and why wouldn’t God do these things?  I left home and a great job that I loved to be here…

Works cited:

“An Explanation of the Small Catechism” copyright © 2017 Concordia Publishing House.

Morris, Leon.  The Gospel According to Matthew.  Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992.

Smith, Robert H.  Matthew.  Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1989.

Jesus’ Triumphant Entry – Palm Sunday Exegetical Study Part 1

This is a 5 step exegetical study of Matthew 21:1-11.  This passage of Scripture is usually labeled to be a narrative of “Jesus’ Triumphant Entry” and it is often times remembered the Sunday before Easter, often times called Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday.  Part 1 contains Steps 1 and 2 of this 5 step exegetical study: “Text and Translation Notes” and “Literary Analysis.” Part 2 contains Steps 3, 4, and 5 of this 5 step exegetical study: “Historical-Cultural Context,” “The Broader Biblical and Historical Confession,” and “Personal and Pastoral Application.”

Palm Sunday

Step I – Text and Translation Notes

Matthew 21:1-11 ESV – 1Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

21:2 The ESV translates λύσαντες as an imperative verb, yet the form is an aorist participle.  Λύσαντες is followed by the aorist imperative verb, ἀγάγετέ.  The ESV simply translates both verbs as commands, since the disciples obviously would have to untie the animals before they could be lead to Jesus.

21:3 The Greek reads that “their Lord [ὁ κύριος αὐτῶν – αὐτῶν is a 3rd person plural, masculine, genitive pronoun] –  has need.” Whose Lord is this?  The animals’ Lord is what the text reads, and this is theologically correct, since all of creation is the Lord’s and thus Jesus is the Lord of these two animals.  In this context however that reading isn’t a natural understanding of this genitive pronoun.  This is why Gibbs suggests αὐτῶν to be translated as an objective genitive to modify “need.” (Gibbs, p. 1032)

21:4 The ESV translates γέγονεν as an aorist verb, when it is a perfect tense verb.  A direct translation should thus be, “this has happened,” but since Matthew is referring to the three verse narrative that has just taken place, the ESV translation “this took place” reads well to our ears that are accustomed to the English language.  The nuance of the perfect verb relates that what “has happened still has an ongoing effect” – namely that the event of the disciples retrieving the animals has a testifying impact to the fulfillment of the words that were spoken by the prophet.

21:5 The ESV translation can easily give the impression that the donkey that Jesus is riding is the colt, as if “on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden” is modifying donkey.  However, in the Greek text, there is the word “καὶ” between the two ἐπὶ prepositional phrases, which indicates that the words that were spoken by the prophet indicate a mounting/riding on both the mother and the colt.

21:7 This text says that Jesus sat on them [αὐτῶν].  This pronoun can refer to the disciples’ garments or to both animals.  Turner suggests that it is most likely that the second αὐτῶν refers to the garments that Jesus sat on while he rode on the colt.  (Turner, p. 496) This interpretation harmonizes Matthew’s narrative with the other Gospel narratives that only mention Jesus riding on a colt with no reference to the mother’s presence at all.  Much more could be said of Matthew’s mention of two animals as opposed to the other three Gospels that only mention one which could fit nicely into Parts II and III, but due to this assignment’s restriction on word count, this interpretation of αὐτῶν will have to be suffice enough to demonstrate the importance that there is a valid interpretation to avoid a contradiction in the Gospel narratives between Jesus riding on either one or two animals.

21:8 The ESV seems to take a great license here by saying, “most of the crowd,” because the Greek doesn’t say “most of the crowd, it simply says, “a very large crowd.”  In the Greek, it seems as if everyone in this multitude either laid their cloaks before Jesus or laid branches that they had cut on the path before Jesus.  The text doesn’t signify that the branches were palm branches.  The text simply reads: κλάδους ἀπὸ τῶν δένδρων [branches from the trees].

21:9 The ESV translates the attributive position present, active participles προάγοντες and ἀκολουθοῦντες as aorist verbs, which misses the ongoing action of the preceding and following throng of people. The ESV also merges ἔκραζον λέγοντες into “were shouting.”  Since ἔκραζον is an imperfect active verb the translation that Gibbs offers, “kept on crying out, saying…” better encapsulates the commotion of the scene.  The crowds are in a state of continual motion preceding and following him and their cries are carrying on and on.

21:10 The wild, on-going actions of the “very great crowd” of vs. 8-9 cause the totality [πᾶσα] of the city to be moved into a state of commotion being stirred up or shaken.

21:11 In vs. 9, the crowds “kept on crying,” and now they “kept on saying” that Jesus is the prophet from Nazareth.   The ESV again translates an imperfect verb form (here it is ἔλεγον) as an aorist, which diminishes the narrative’s image of their on-going exuberance and certainty in their proclamation of Jesus, not just being the promised king, the Son of David, but also a prophet – from Nazareth of all places!

Part II – Literary Analysis

Gibbs opens up his commentary on this unit of text by describing it as “a fairly obvious whole” (Gibbs, 1035).  I can’t deny this, which is why I struggle to break this unit into sections.  I see no obvious breaks that demand to be labeled a new section with a new thought or idea being introduced.  I see no central point or turning point in the text.  Gibbs chooses to break this unit into two sections: vs. 1-7 and vs. 8-11. (Gibbs, p. 1036) I agree with his justification for this split, namely that in vs. 1-7, Jesus is in control of the action; he’s orchestrating his entrance into Jerusalem, and then in vs. 8-11 the reactions of the crowds and the people of the city take over the action of the narrative; Jesus is depicted as just being along for the ride (no pun intended).  In this section unit, the disciples are not even mentioned.

I however prefer to break the unit into three sections, following Turner’s division: preparations for Jesus’ entrance (vs. 1-5), Jesus’ entrance (vs. 6-9), and the results (vs. 10-11).  (Turner, p. 493).  I would change the labels however to Jesus’ orchestrated preparation (vs. 1-5), the approach to Jerusalem (vs. 6-9), and the dichotomy of responses from mutually in-error parties (vs. 10-11).  The following will explain my decision to break this unit into three sections.

Vs. 1-5 narrate Jesus’ very deliberate preparations and instructions to two disciples for how he is to enter Jerusalem.  The intentions of these instructions, Matthew explains, were to fulfill the words of the prophet in Zechariah 9:9.  This is a good breaking point, because in a study it would necessitate a look at the prophesy in Zechariah 9:9 and its context.  The most important discovery to this unit’s immediate context is that Matthew doesn’t cite the verse as directed by Zechariah to be an invitation for Jerusalem to rejoice and shout; instead he opts to Isiah 62:11 as the introduction to the prophesy fulfillment at hand, which is “Say to the daughter, Zion” (21:5).  This foreshadows the cluelessness of the personified city of Jerusalem in the third section who doesn’t understand that now is the time for the shouting and rejoicing encouraged by Zechariah.

A question arises in this section concerning how the disciples were expected to be able to just mosey into Bethpage and take the first animals they saw with no potential consequences for donkey-thieving.  Also, how did Jesus know the animals would be there for the taking.  One answer comes from John’s Gospel which records that Jesus had made several travels to Jerusalem before and “had an important ministry there, and it would seem that it was on such occasions that he made the acquaintance of people like the owners of the animals he was now borrowing” (Morris, 520).  Another answer lies within this section itself.  Jesus’ use of κύριος in the statement, “The Lord has need of them,” carries with it the force of a “magisterial sentence” that provides all the disciples will need to offer to resolve any objections that might arise from their taking of the animals.  (Smith, 243) Couple the crowd’s response with this last answer and it seems suffice to say that the owners might have recognized Jesus to be their king as the crowds did and would gladly offer their animals to meet their king’s need.

The next section, Vs. 6-9, does not indicate if the disciples or the crowd knew if Zechariah’s prophesy was being fulfilled at the time, but what we see is that the disciples follow Jesus’ instruction without question and the crowd responded to Jesus’ entrance on the colt just as Zechariah had prophesied.  Their response is shocking to the reader, because the goal in Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem has already been stated by Jesus himself – “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matthew 16:21) – and this exuberant response that attributed Messianic titles to Jesus (“Son of David” and “one who comes” (Turner, p. 496)) doesn’t indicate an impending death at the hands of the Jewish leaders.

Vs. 10-11 close the unit and indicate that as he entered the city, the people in Jerusalem did not even know who he was.  The crowds who have already declared him their king with messianic titles respond by continually saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”  Gibbs indicates that their answer that he is a prophet already indicates that they didn’t know he was the Messiah, because instead of answering that he is the prophet Jesus, they would have answered he is the Messiah Jesus.  (Gibbs, p. 1041) I tend to think that the crowds were declaring him to be their Messiah through their use of Messianic titles for him.  In Part III, the historical and cultural background point to their expectations of what he should do in the city as the Messiah, and in Part IV, their recognition of him being both king and prophet illustrates their misunderstanding of what he came to do and the three-fold office of the Messiah.

Go to Part 2 that contains Steps 3, 4, and 5 of this exegetical study.

Works Cited:

Gibbs, Jeffrey A. Matthew 21:1-28:20. Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2018.

Morris, Leon.  The Gospel According to Matthew.  Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992.

Turner, David L.  Matthew.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008.

3 Forms of the Word of God

The word of God comes to us in three forms: the personal word, the spoken word, and the written word. This article will explain what each form is and what God accomplishes through each form of the word.

Luther pionting to Jesus

Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be God and that his exemplary life, his miracles, his teachings, his death, burial, and resurrection all serve as credentials to verify” those claims. Jesus also affirmed the accepted text of Scripture among his people, the Jews, to contain eternal life and proclaimed that their words testify about him.  He also promised that when he returned to his Father in heaven, he would send the Spirit of Truth to his apostles who would remind them of everything he had taught them.  Because Jesus of Nazareth is God in the flesh, we can trust that he knows best what words, spoken or written, accurately reveal who he is, what he expects of humanity, and what he has done for us – what words are from him and what words are ultimately his words of revelation.  This is why the Church has trusted Jesus at his word, recognizing that the Bible (the Hebrew Scriptures of Jesus’ day and the New Testament texts that originated from within the apostolic circle) is God’s written word of divine revelation – written so that we might believe Jesus is the Son of God and that by believing in him we might have life in his name.

What I have described is wholly unique to Christianity.  In no other religion has God become a human being to personally speak to his creation and save his people from death.  Jesus, the Son of God, sent by God the Father, born of the virgin Mary, was God’s deputy.  He was given authority to speak on his Father’s behalf (authorization) and he spoke all that he had received from his Father to speak (superintendence).  If people saw Jesus, they saw the Father, if they heard Jesus, they heard the Father, because Jesus is the personal word of God.  With his words, Jesus spoke the truth of God and proclaimed the forgiveness of sins in his ministry of reconciliation to restore creation back into a right relationship with God.

The ministry of reconciliation continued with Jesus’ apostles, who he deputized to teach everything he had taught them.  As stated previously, Jesus promised that the Spirit of Truth would remind them of everything he had taught them.  This means that we can trust that the words they spoke were all that Jesus had taught them and that the words they proclaimed were true and forgave sins, just as Jesus’ words were and did.  The Apostles were therefore speaking the word of God. The apostles deputized other believers into this ministry of reconciliation, giving the Church the authority to teach what Jesus taught according to the witness they gave and to forgive sins in continuity with the proclamation of the Gospel (good news of Jesus Christ) they declared.

From within the apostolic circle, arose certain written texts that were typically written at the request of those who heard the apostolic message and wanted their words in writing, to preserve the teachings of the apostles, or to serve as reminders of what was spoken in person.  Because these texts were the written form of what the apostle’s spoke on the authority of Jesus, the personal word of God, and because they arose from within the apostolic circle (either from apostles themselves or people who wrote based on the directly received spoken word of the apostles), the Church came to recognize these texts to be the definitive versions of the apostolic proclamations in written form. The collection of these texts is the New Testament Canon; this written form of God’s word is the revelation of God that guides and norms the Church’s spoken proclamations of God’s word today.

In summary, three forms of God’s word have been presented: the personal word of God, the spoken word of God, and the written word of God.  The personal word of God is Jesus as God’s word to us.  The spoken word of God is the proclamation of God’s word to us through the prophets, apostles, pastors, teachers – all Christians – in preaching, evangelism, and through the mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren.  This form of God’s word is the “means of grace” word; it is the spoken form that has “causative authority” to create faith, as Scripture clearly states that faith comes from hearing.  In that last sentence, the function of the written form of God’s word was at work.  Scripture has “normative authority” to be the rule and guiding principle for all of God’s spoken word and it is the definitive standard by which all teachers’ and preachers’ words are to be judged.  Put another way, the written form of God’s word is the norming norm and the spoken form of God’s word is the normed norm.

In conclusion, these three forms are to be distinguished, but not separated.  Jesus is the personal word that gave the apostles the words they spoke and later wrote.  In the 21st century, we read the revelation of God in the written form, which serves the spoken word that proclaims God’s commands and promises, which delivers the personal word – all for our salvation and the restoration of God’s creation.


Credit: This article is largely based on class notes from Professor Nafzger’s lecture entitled, “The Word of the God of Word” given on Sept. 24th, 2018 at Concordia Seminary and the class discussion of the lecture on Sept. 27th, especially the use of the deputizing language and the descriptions of the type of of authority attributed to the spoken and written form of God’s word.

The Story of Everything

With the siren of a ram’s horn, the heavenly bodies are shaken and stars fall as the atmosphere is ripped open and rolled up like a scroll.  Bursting through the hole in the sky rides the Word of God on a white horse… riding on the clouds, leading his entire angel-army. All the dead from ages before are raised from their graves, and even the sea gives up its dead.  All of humanity is brought before the one on the white horse, the one who has King of Kings and Lord of Lords written on his robe and thigh.  They all bow down before him and confess that he is Jesus the Lord, and their confession gives glory to God the Father.  Jesus has mounds of books, books that give an account of each man’s life.  This is the day of reckoning.  This must be the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning.

__________________________________________________________________

In the beginning, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit were.  All three had always been, were never created, nor made, none were before the other in time or majesty.  All three are eternal, all-powerful, ever-present, all-knowing, and all-good: one God.  By very nature they are love, existing in a community of love to one another.  It is out of their love and out of nothing that they together chose to create all things, visible and invisible, seen and unseen.  Humanity was the crown of their creation, being made last and in the image, likeness, of God.  God declared all that he had made to be very good… but there was war in heaven.

One of God’s heavenly beings, an angel named Satan rebelled against God his Creator in a mutiny.  Epic fail. Satan and his followers were cast out of heaven.  Losing the battle to God and his faithful angel-army, Satan turned to ravage humanity, the ones made in the image of the God he hates.  Possessing a serpent, Satan approached the first two humans in their garden home created for them by God.  The serpent deceived them into rebelling against God’s command given to them, and Adam and Eve, the parents of humanity, acted on that deception – high treason – they too thought they could take God’s rightful place of authority and power over all.

No one is above the Triune Lord.  God cursed the serpent, cursed Eve, cursed the man, cursed all of his creation, even the cute furry animals.  God damned it all!

He is a just God, a God of order.  He must punish insurrection, evil.

Yet, the Lord is by nature love.  The same love by which he created is the same love that compels him to exonerate and restore his creation.  In his knowledge of all things, The Triune Lord knew his creation would reject him and he knew what it would cost him to make all things new, but he chose to create anyways.

When cursing the serpent, God gave the promise that Eve’s offspring would deliver a death blow to his head – putting an end to Satan, his followers, and the aftermath of their rebellion.  God doesn’t forget his promises, even when man forgets and rejects not only God’s promises but God himself.

Evicted from the garden home God had given them, Adam and Eve bore children made in their likeness. One of their sons, Cain, killed his brother Abel in a fit of jealousy that God had rejected his sacrifice of offering but had found Abel’s sacrifice to be pleasing.  Cain’s descendants followed in the path of Cain with his sixth generation grandchild, Lamech, killing a man and rejecting God’s plan of marriage, taking two wives instead of one.  The line of Adam and Eve’s son Seth however, remained faithful to the Lord, for a time, until they too rejected God.  In time, only Noah remained from Seth’s line as the only man to be righteous through walking with God.

For mankind’s utter rejection of him, God destroyed all the world through water, sparing Noah, his sons, their wives, and two of each kind of creature.

Despite the salvation given to Noah’s family, men still rejected God.  Yet out of God’s love and his faithfulness, he continued to keep his promise to Eve.  He chose Abraham, a descendent of Noah, to be the father of his people, a great nation with a promised land, the man from whom the offspring would crush Satan.  God chose him despite the fact that Abraham had rejected him to worship other gods!  Abraham after being chosen by God rejected his idols and has faith in the one true Lord.  His descendants followed the Lord too, for a time, until they found themselves enslaved in Egypt… there they forgot the God of Abraham their forefather and they worshiped the gods of their masters.

Despite their rejection of him, God kept his promisesGod chose a man named Moses to lead his people out of captivity. Through many miraculous plagues against his people’s captors, Moses helped lead them to be free men again.  They didn’t approve of where God took them from Egypt, a wilderness badland with no food or water.  They wished they were back in captivity to the Egyptians.  They rejected God.  God saw to it that the old generation that escaped Egypt wouldn’t enter into his promised land, as they died off during the time he led them through the wasteland for forty years.

God is faithful to his people.  The rag-tag band of Abraham’s descendants that didn’t rebel in the wilderness finally entered into the promised land, acquiring it as God helped them drive out the nations that were in their land.  The seven-nation army couldn’t hold them back.  God was their king, but once again, his people chose to reject him, asking that he give them a king like all the other nations had a king.  They got their king, and like most men, he rejected God.  The succeeding king, King David, was of the lineage of the promise and he was chosen by God to have a descendent who would sit on a never-ending throne ruling over all the nations, the Son of David, the one to crush the serpent’s head.  Most people thought that David’s son who ascended the throne after his death, Solomon, who had built a permanent house for the Lord, and who was the wisest man to walk the earth, would be the son to rule forever, to end the wickedness in the land, but Solomon was just a man.  He had rejected God throughout his life, keeping many wives and idols in the land of God’s people, and so he died as all men do.

After Solomon’s death, the promised land to Abraham was split in two as Solomon’s descendants fought for power and authority over God’s people… power and authority over God’s people through the schemes of wanton men? Another rejection of God. Many of the kings of both kingdoms were perverse, worshipping other gods and leading the people to do so too.  Due to their rejection of the one true Lord, the God of angel-armies pulled back his hand of protection, even stirring enemy nations up against his whoring people as punishment for their idolatry.  Without God’s shelter, both kingdoms fall, the house of the Lord that Solomon built was decimated, and God’s chosen people found themselves once again slaves in a land not their own.  Among the exiled descendants of Abraham, a remnant remained faithful to God, having the same faith as Abraham.

Centuries passed.  God’s chosen people are still under foreign rule, far from being a great nation as God had promised.  But finally, during the time of Emperor Augustus of the Roman Empire, Eve’s promised offspring was born.  Unlike David’s son Solomon, this Son of David, is not a mere man; he is the eternal Word of God, born of God’s chosen theotokos, the virgin Mary.  The Son of God assumed a human nature.  His name is Jesus for he will save his chosen people.  He chose to save us by becoming one of us, The Son of God was so human that he even sucked at his mother’s breast for his body’s sustenance.  Yet the Son of God was also fully God, from his birth, heaven’s messengers delivered the good news of his life’s trajectory.  The shepherds who met these messengers accepted Jesus for who he truly is upon finding him.  Throughout his time with us many individuals received him as the promised savior against Satan and they were given the right to not just be called God’s people, but God’s children, loved by him.

Jesus claimed to be God again and again, publicly.  He performed many miraculous signs, publicly.  He taught with a wisdom that must be from God alone.  Many of God’s people wanted him to be their king, the one who would set his people free from all pain, suffering, and death, a greater escape than what Moses had enacted, a never-ending peace with a forever-ruling king.  Others denied his miracles, claiming that Jesus was acting by the power of Satan, not God.  In the end, Jesus wasn’t doing what they thought he should do: be the one-man army of God to overthrow their Roman captors – this was their promised land after all, not Rome’s.  His people rejected him, his closest followers and friends deserted him, and he was killed under Roman rule by crucifixion because of his people’s claim that he was the King of the Jews, an act of insurrection against the Roman Empire.  This is what he promised would happen, yet he also foretold that the grave would not hold him down.

Jesus’ death was the serpent’s strike at the heel of Eve’s offspring.

Jesus’ crushing blow of that serpent the devil came when no one thought it was possible; the Father raised his only eternally begotten Son bodily from the dead on the third day, just as Jesus had foretold it would happen.

Jesus’ exemplary life, his miracles, his teachings, his death, burial, and resurrection all serve as credentials to verify his title, the Son of God, the eternal Word of God.  After his resurrection, Jesus shared the story of everything to his closest followers and explained how he had to die and rise for the salvation of mankind and restoration of his creation.  Then Jesus left them, but he promised to return for them and all of his people.  His people are not those who were born of a particular bloodline, as many of Abraham’s descendants had thought.  They are all of those who received him, who called upon his name for salvation, who did not reject him, who returned from their ways to God’s way for the washing away of their evil, so that the image of God might one day be restored in each and every single one of them. They are those who God has chosen.

Repent and be washed into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of all your sins.

___________________________________________________________________

Jesus is coming, and hell is coming with him.

For those who have rejected him, his return is the beginning of the end.

For those he has chosen, his return is the end of the beginning.