Jon: So we’re walking through the Gospel of Luke, and we’ve reached the end of Jesus’ long road trip to Jerusalem. He’s arrived.
Tim: So he rides a donkey down the Mount of Olives towards the city. And all these crowds are forming, and people are singing, “Praise the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” They’re laying down their cloaks in front of him.1
Jon: Yeah. Why all this royal treatment?
Tim: Okay. So Israel’s ancient prophets promised that one day God himself would arrive and rescue his people and rule the world. Other times the prophets spoke about a coming king who would ride into Jerusalem to bring justice and peace.2
Jon: So Jesus is activating all these hopes, that he’s that king. And everyone is ecstatic.
Tim: Well, not everybody. The religious leaders, they think Jesus is a threat to their power, and so they’re not happy. But even more striking, Jesus himself is distraught. He’s actually weeping as he rides.3
Jon: Yeah. Why?
Tim: Well, Jesus can see what is coming. He knows that he won’t be accepted as Israel’s King. And he knows that Israel will keep going down a destructive path, neglecting the poor, stirring up rebellion against their Roman oppressors. And he knows that it will lead to death. It breaks his heart.
The Corruption of Israel [01:11-03:20]
Jon: And it riles him up! The first thing he does in Jerusalem is march into the temple courts, and he drives out the money changers, disrupting the entire sacrificial system.4
Tim: Yeah. He’s staging a prophetic protest, and he stands in the center of the courtyard shouting out words from Israel’s ancient prophets. “This is supposed to be a place of worship, but you’ve made it a den of rebels!”5
Jon: A den of rebels?
Tim: Yes. He’s quoting from the prophet Jeremiah, who stood in this same spot, the center of Israel’s religious and political power. And he offered the same critique of Israel’s leaders: that they’re rebellious and corrupt.6
Jon: And they get the message and start to plan to have him killed.
Tim: Which is no surprise to Jesus. In fact, he planned that all of this would happen during Passover.
Jon: This is the holy week when Jewish people celebrate their ancient story of how God liberated them from slavery and invited them into a covenant relationship.7
Tim: And so Jesus uses the symbols of Passover to reveal the meaning of his coming death. The broken bread was his broken body, and the wine was his blood that would establish a new covenant relationship between God and Israel. Jesus was going to die for his people and open up a new way forward.8
Jon: After the meal, Jesus takes his disciples to a garden to pray.9
Tim: And he struggles with the very human desire to save his life instead of sacrificing it, but he overcomes this temptation.10
Jon: And it’s here where the religious leaders with the temple guards find him and arrest him.
Tim: Now, Jerusalem was being ruled by the Roman empire. And so the temple leaders couldn’t execute Jesus without permission from their Roman governor, a man named Pontius Pilate. And so they make up this charge that Jesus is a rebel king stirring up revolution against the Roman emperor.
Jon: Pilate asks Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”11
Tim: And Jesus answers, “You say so.”
Jon: Pilate can see that Jesus is an innocent man and he doesn’t deserve death.
Tim: But the leaders keep insisting that he is dangerous, so they negotiate a compromise. Pilate will release an actual rebel against Rome, a man named Barabbas, instead of Jesus. And so the innocent is handed over in the place of the guilty.12
The Death of Jesus [03:21-04:05]
Jon: Jesus is taken away with two other accused criminals and nailed to a Roman execution device. And people are mocking him: “Hey! If you’re the messianic king, save yourself and us!”13
Tim: But Jesus loved his enemies to the very end, offering hope to one of the criminals dying beside him. And he even prayed for his executors: “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”14
Jon: And then the sky darkened as an innocent man died the death of a rebel.15
Tim: And then Jesus cried out with ancient words from Israel’s Psalms, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”16 And then Jesus died, innocent and alone.17