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perception through a windshield October 27 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Mark 10:32-45; Matthew 20:17-28; Luke 18:31-34; Mark10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43; Luke 19:1-27; Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 11:1-11; Matthew 21:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John12:12-19. Note: Today’s lesson is long because of similar subject matter.

Wrong and Right Perceptions about Jesus

When we look through a windshield, we have a limited view of the road. If we are driving in good weather with no obstructions, perhaps we can see a mile ahead. If we are driving in poor weather, our view may only be a few hundred feet. The same is true of our perceptions about life and the future—sometimes we can see ahead and sometimes we can't see much of anything.

The three words, “but I thought” usually introduce a misconception. We have all thought things which weren't true. We judge things by appearances, but things aren't always what they appear to be. In today’s Bible reading, we learn about the biggest Jewish misunderstanding of the Scriptures. Misunderstandings and misinterpretations can be cleared up by studying the Bible to understand prophecy and world affairs.

Most Jewish people and even prophets didn't understand how Old Testament (or covenant) prophecies would be fulfilled. They only understood them in their immediate context. Many prophecies had a present fulfillment so anyone might judge if the prophet was true in what he said (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). However, sometimes prophecies had double fulfillment. A prophecy would be partially fulfilled in an immediate context but would be completely fulfilled in a future era. When they read or listened to prophecies of a coming Messiah, this brought them hope that he would avenge them and bring world peace. Strange words of a suffering Messiah were mingled into these prophecies, but no one understood them (Isaiah 53 is an example of this).

Then, when Jesus comes, the people see miracles which only God can do. They hear him speak God’s Word with authority and truth, mystifying the hypocritical religious leaders. Jesus is powerful and popular with the common people, acting with compassion, healing their diseases and raising their dead.

Now they want to make him king. Believing Jews and even his disciples are convinced Jesus is their Messiah, their deliverer from Roman oppression. This is the greatest misconception the Jews had when they read the sacred scrolls. Jesus didn't come to deliver them from their enemies at this time. He came to die for the Jewish nation to restore their relationship with God and offer them (and later all people) inner peace (more...). In the future, Jesus will fulfill the prophecies they are expecting. He will return to this earth to deliver the Jews, to rule and reign, and to bring peace.

Jesus speaks strange words that he will be mocked, spit upon, beaten, killed, and then rise again three days later. The disciples don't understand what he is talking about. They aren't listening. In anticipation for the coming kingdom, James and John, two of the three in Jesus’ inner circle of disciples, get their mother to ask Jesus to put her two sons in prominent positions within his new kingdom. Learning of this, the other disciples become jealous and angry with them. Jesus calls all of them over to him and corrects their thinking.

You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:25-28, NIV).

Do we have misconceptions about how greatness is achieved? If we want to be promoted by the Lord and receive positions of prominence, we need to become willing servants of God and people.

In our last Bible study (October 26) we read of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Couldn't Jesus also raise up their nation? This is the thinking of many Jewish followers of Jesus. The people are in awe of Jesus’ power, and the religious leaders are afraid of him. Then Jesus resolutely sets out for Jerusalem with his disciples, Lazarus, and all those who saw Jesus raise him from the dead. The scene is electric—something great is going to happen!

Jesus knows what they are thinking, but they have a wrong perception of his mission. He shares a parable which illustrates that he will be presented as a king but will come back at a much later time to claim his throne (Luke 19:11-27). After Jesus rises from the dead and returns to heaven, his disciples will remember these words, but not now. Now they only think of Jesus ushering in his kingdom on earth. We, too, might be blinded by political situations in our world. If we are careful listeners and students of God’s Word, however, we will most likely come to the right perception of truth. The Spirit of God will help us as we study his Word to interpret it correctly.

When they approach Jerusalem, Jesus asks his disciples to go and bring him a colt, the foal of a donkey. Matthew records in his book that they took the mother donkey with them, which would only be kind and perfectly natural. Then Jesus comes riding on the young donkey (a symbol of peace), and is presented as king. This fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. The young Jewish men would have learned this prophecy as they were educated in the synagogues by their Jewish teachers. Perhaps they are thinking that Jesus is the king who will bring peace as Zechariah 9:10 prophesies.

Curiously, after Jesus is ushered into Jerusalem on the donkey with palm branches and coats laid before his feet, and with the sound of praise, Jesus does nothing. The prophecy is left unfulfilled. The Lord comes into Jerusalem, looks all around inside the city, and then leaves. How disillusioning! Where is their king? Why doesn't he start an uprising? When is the kingdom coming? Could they be wrong about him? How are his actions to be interpreted? If they were listening, they would remember what Jesus told them in the parable—he will be presented as king and then much later take his throne and bring peace. What are his followers to do in the meantime?

Are we looking for a savior from our problems? Jesus can save us from our sin and guilt (more...), but what if deliverance from our problems comes later? What are we to do in the meantime? Jesus told the Jews what to do in that same parable (Luke 19:11-27). He told them to make good use of the resources he gives them until he comes back. We can also do this. We will be held accountable, as they will be. When Jesus comes back, he will reward us for how we use our resources. We are to use them for his glory and the advancement of his kingdom. Then we will be ready for his return. That is the right perception.

Lessons to Live By

  • Are we looking for a savior from our problems? Jesus can save us from our sins. He can give us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...). Our Savior can help us with life's challenges.
  • Bible prophecies often have a double fulfillment. We must become a student of the Bible and history to understand their interpretations. The Holy Spirit of God will help us as we study. We can be confident of their ultimate fulfillment since they were given by God.
  • Do we have misconceptions about how greatness is achieved? If we want to be promoted by God and receive positions of prominence, we need to become willing servants of the Lord and people.
  • Until Christ comes back, let’s make good use of the resources he has given us for his glory. Then, when he comes, he will reward us accordingly. Let us be ready for his return.

Focus Verses

Ephesians 5:15-16 (NIV) “Be very careful, then, how you live-- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

Watch a video of Jesus entering Jerusalem (Palm Sunday)

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A Look Ahead: Jesus shares a parable with the religious leaders. They are rejected for their bad leadership. We have to be careful not to get dismissed from our responsibilities. Learn more in our Next Lesson: Don't Get Fired

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