Blessing… On a Colt

When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus gave two disciples a task. He said to them, “Go into the village over there. As soon as you enter, you will find a donkey tied up and a colt with it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anybody says anything to you, say that the Lord needs it.” He sent them off right away. Now this happened to fulfill what the prophet said, Say to Daughter Zion,Look, your king is coming to you, humble and riding on a donkey, and on a colt the donkey’s offspring. The disciples went and did just as Jesus had ordered them. They brought the donkey and the colt and laid their clothes on them. Then he sat on them. Now a large crowd spread their clothes on the road. Others cut palm branches off the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds in front of him and behind him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up. “Who is this?” they asked. The crowds answered, “It’s the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee” (Matthew 21:1-11, Common English Bible).

There is a group of Scriptural books we Protestants don’t generally have in our Bibles called the Apocrypha. There are 14 of these books that our Roman Catholic friends use that we Protestants do not see as Holy Scripture. Just because we do not view them as Holy Scripture does not mean there is not something we can gain from reading and even studying them. It is important, however, to note that we do not study these books as Scripture but they are valuable because they can teach us some of the history of the Israelites.

The books of the Apocrypha happen during the period that theologians and Biblical historians generally call “The Intertestamental Period.” They occur historically after the end of the Old Testament but before the first writings of the New Testament. They provide us with insight into that period.

1 Maccabees is one of these books. This book along with 2 Maccabees in particular point to the things that happened in Israel’s history in the years immediately prior to Jesus’ birth.

There is one story in 1 Maccabees that would have been familiar to Jews during Jesus’ life. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem it would have been a scene that would have made most any good Jew would have remembered. The first story was an important part in the history of Israel.

Jerusalem and the temple had been lost to the Seleucid Dynasty. The Seleucid leader was named Antiochus who forbade all Jewish religious practices and brought Hellenistic practices into the temple including the sacrifice of swine on the altar. The Jews were outraged.

A Jew named Judah Maccabees raised an army that sought to defeat Antiochus and the Seleucid Dynasty. When Maccabees won Jerusalem he came riding into Jerusalem on a stallion amid waiving palm branches along with cloaks and palm branches on the ground covering the road as Maccabees came into the city.

The story is a familiar allusion. When one reads both stories there is really only one noticeable difference between the two stories beyond the entering riders. Maccabees came riding into Jerusalem on a stallion. Jesus came riding in on the fold of a donkey. It is an important distinction.

Maccabees rode into Jerusalem on a stallion, a symbol for a conquering hero. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the fold of a donkey. The donkey being a symbol we have actually scene once before in Jesus’ story as he and Mary rode into Bethlehem on a donkey. The donkey is a symbol for one who comes in peace.

Here are two stories that are very much the same and at the same time are also very different. The Jews saw Jesus coming in and remembered the story of Judah Maccabees. They still today celebrate Maccabees and his victory over Antiochus. They celebrate the victory as Hanukkah. Hanukkah is Maccabees, the conquering hero’s legacy.

The Jews missed the donkey. It is the key symbol. Jesus didn’t come to conquer the Romans as the Jews had hoped. He came as the Prince of Peace. And, Jesus too had a legacy. We who believe in him are that legacy.

How do you demonstrate to the world your part in that legacy.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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