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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 cannot see much of anything.

The thee words, “but I thought” usually introduce a misconception. We have all thought things which were not true. We judge things by appearances, but things are not always what they appear to be. In today’s Bible reading, the biggest Jewish misconception of the Scriptures is: when is the Messiah coming to deliver us and bring peace? You may look at our world and wonder the same thing. Misconceptions can be cleared up by studying the Bible to understand prophecy and world affairs.

Most Jewish people and even prophets did not understand how Scripture prophecies would be fulfilled. They only understood prophecies 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). Unbeknown, however, was the fact that sometimes prophecies had double fulfillment. A prophecy would be partially fulfilled in an immediate context but would be completely fulfilled in a future time period. The prophecies they read and heard about a coming Messiah brought hope of revenge for war torn Israel and of worldwide 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 Jesus 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 did not come to deliver them from their enemies. He came to die for the Jewish nation to restore their relationship with God and offer them (and later all people) inner peace with Him (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 three days later rise again. The disciples do not understand what Jesus is talking about; they are not listening. In anticipation for the coming kingdom, James and John, two of the three in Jesus’ inner circle of disciples, even 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 Him 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 probable 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 signifies 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, so wouldn’t Jesus be the king to bring peace as Zechariah 9:10 states?

Strangely, after Jesus is ushered into Jerusalem on the donkey with palm branches and coats laid before his feet and with the sound of praise of the coming king, Jesus does nothing. The prophecy is left unfulfilled. The Lord comes into Jerusalem, looks all around in the city, and then leaves. How disillusioning this must have been. Where is their king? Why doesn't he start an insurrection? 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 sins (more...), but what if deliverance from our particular situation comes later? What are we to do in the meantime? Jesus told the Jews what to do from 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 Him and receive positions of prominence, we need to become willing servants of God 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.”

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A Look Ahead: Don't Get Fired

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