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Action

A few October’s ago, I was hanging out at a university café when a group of girls came up and started talking with me. I’ll admit, as a freshman guy, I was digging the attention. However, during our conversation, something didn’t quite add up. Eventually, I figured out they were high school students trying to pose as university students to find an “in” to an on-campus party that evening. Apparently, I seemed like the most gullible guy to them.

 

Ouch.

 

Besides the lesson in humility, I was reminded that people aren’t always who they claim to be. Need more evidence: survey the political or religious scene.

 

How about Jesus? Was He who He claimed to be?

 

It’s a big question, because Jesus claimed so many identities. For instance, as we saw previously in Matthew 12, Jesus claimed the titles “greater than the temple”, “greater than Jonah” (a prophet), and “greater than Solomon” (a king).

 

Bold words, but where’s the action to back them up?

 

Enter Matthew 21. I’d like to suggest, that at least in part, Matthew 21 records the actions that substantiate the claims of Matthew 12.

 

Indeed, here we find the multitude openly confessing Jesus as a prophet (Matt. 21:11). Considering Jesus’ recent healings and teachings, this isn’t surprising.

 

But how about His claims to be “greater than Solomon” and “greater than the temple”?

 

Re-read the story of Solomon, the son of David, and you’ll see when David anointed him king, he rode on a mule in the midst of a rejoicing multitude (1 Kings 1:38-40). Jesus is echoing this as He rides on a donkey through a crowd that is singing, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matt. 21:9).

 

Now all those promises God made to David about his kingdom and his son’s kingdom will be fulfilled in Jesus. “I will set up your seed after you [David]… and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13).

 

Jesus is the new Solomon, the son of David. And like Solomon, whose first priority was to build a temple for God (2 Kings 6-8), Jesus immediately heads to the temple. Seeing the religious system designed for worship corrupted by greed and ambition, Jesus acts:

 

“Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves” (Matt. 21:12).

 

However, this is more than a one time cleansing. Recall, Jesus is the “greater than the temple”. Jesus hasn’t come to build a better temple, but to establish Himself as the new temple—God’s dwelling among men.

 

We see this in the next scene: “Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them” (Matt. 21:14).

 

When Solomon had built the first temple, at its dedication he prayed that the temple may be a place that people look to whenever they are overcome with sin, famine, war, or sickness. In particular Solomon prayed, “Whatever plague or sickness there is; whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone… [who] spreads out his hands toward this temple: then hear in heaven Your dwelling, and forgive, and act” (I Kings 8:37-38).

 

How significant that in Matthew 21, the sick do not reach out to the temple, but to Jesus, the “greater than the temple”.

 

May we do the same. Kings die, building crumble, religious systems are corrupted, but Jesus remains, longing to act in our lives.

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