Scripture Passage – Mark 11:1-11
Description – The Thirteenth Sermon in the series through Mark’s Gospel
(Slide 1) As I begin today I must confess that I was pleasantly surprised with how some passages from the book of Mark came into focus the past couple of weeks in the Advent sermons I shared with you. I really should not be surprised because the Holy Spirit, when we ask Him to, guides us in the directions He would have us go.
Today and next Sunday, I bring to a conclusion our walk through the book of Mark that we began on Labor Day Sunday. I hope that it was been helpful to you and for you these past four months.
(Slide 2)To set some important context for this morning here is a map which shows the journeys of Jesus as recorded by Mark.
Most of what we have read and studied so far has taken place here, in the Sea of Galilee region. Two weeks ago, I shared the encounter of Jesus and the Greek woman seeking to have Jesus deliver her daughter from as Mark writes “an unclean spirit.” That took place here, along the Mediterranean coast.
Now notice that Jesus journeys further north to Sidon after this encounter (and did you notice that he went to Tyre not wanting anyone to know where He was staying?) and as we read in chapter 7 and verse 32 returned, “down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.”
He is in this region when He encounters the Pharisees again who seek a “sign from heaven” as we noted last week in the sermon about who we expect during advent and throughout our lives.
Then Jesus begins His final journey to Jerusalem during which as we read in the latter part of chapter eight He asks the disciples, as they traveled to here, Caesarea Philippi, “Who do people say I am?” And Peter makes his historic statement, “You are the Messiah!” Then He makes the statement on the heels of Peter’s great affirmation about His impending death to which Peter reprimands Him for saying such a thing and is, in turn, sharply reprimanded.
Moving into chapter nine, we find Jesus making some final rounds in the Galilee region and then at the beginning of chapter 10 we read “Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan.” Now He is moving this way, toward Jerusalem.
And we finally come to our text for this morning:
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”
They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
As we are in the final days of 2012, despite all the hub-bub about a certain calendar, I want us to consider this passage and how Jesus entered what was the final week of His life before His crucifixion. Jesus came into Jerusalem from the east and entered through what is known as the Eastern Gate or Golden Gate. In fact this gate was one of nine gates that people entered through the walls of Jerusalem over the centuries.
Jerusalem, a place that is still a place of controversy today is divided among what some call Jewish and Muslim and others call Israeli and Palestinian. But when we study scripture and think of Jerusalem we are concerned with a part of it that is only one square kilometer The Old City. The Old City, as it is called, is divided into four quarters – Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim. There are eight gates that have or currently provide entrance into the old city:
The New Gate is just that the newest gate in Jerusalem built in the 1889 to provide direct access to the Christian quarter.
The Damascus gate (also called the Shechem Gate) is a gate that is the busiest of the gates into old Jerusalem and is on the northern wall. One comment I read in research said that is contained “one large center gate originally intended for use by persons of high station, and two smaller side entrances for commoners.” (Notice that the two pictures one in 2011 and the other in the 1890’s show the gate as pretty much the same.)
Herod’s Gate, so called because that Herod Antipas, who was ruler of the area during Jesus’ ministry and was involved in Jesus’ trial, had a home that had been built near the gate.
The Lion’s Gate, has some very important history as it is the gate which leads to the Via Delarosa, the path Jesus is said to have taken to His crucifixion.
There is also the Dung gate, through which trash has been hauled out of the city and through which vehicles can pass. Also in use is the Zion gate. Cars can exit here but not enter. It is called the Zion Gate because it is believed that King David’s tomb is near here.
The westernmost gate is the Jaffa gate which scholars believed is positioned in such a manner to align it with Highway 1 that goes from Jerusalem to Jaffa, a suburb of Tel Aviv, on the coast. Some of the sources I studied for this message indicated that it is the busiest of all the gates and is the main gate into the Old City.
There is one more gate to present. It is a sealed gate. It is the Eastern or Golden Gate.
The reason that it is sealed up is that in the 1500’s the Sultan Suleiman, the ruler of Jerusalem at the time, heard this was the gate through which the Jewish Messiah would come. So, he had it sealed off to keep him from coming through.
This gate also faces the Mount of Olives that is to the east of Jerusalem. This gate allowed for the closest access to the Temple and our text for this morning says, “Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.” This is most likely the gate through which Jesus passed in triumphal entry on the back of young colt or donkey. The Messiah had already passed through the gate.
As I studied the history of these gates I learned that Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany rode through the Jaffa gate, expanded just for him, on a white horse in 1898. I did find a photo of him on a white horse no less alongside his entourage!
It was a picture of power and prestige. I would wager that Jesus did not have all of this pomp and privilege. He came, I think, in the back door not the front door of Jerusalem.
He was not about power except the power to change a person into the kind of person God that Father wanted. He was not about influence except to influence a person to follow God the Father.
He was born in very humble circumstances and He entered the last week of His life in a humble way.
Someone wrote, ”Humility is not thinking less of yourself it is thinking of yourself less.”
So what does this mean for us today and this week, a week of transitioning from one year to another?
I suggest that we resolve to following the example of Christ and make a humble exit from 2012 and a humble entrance into 2013 and keep following Jesus.