Scene 1: The Temple in Jerusalem
JOY and Unwilling Hearts
Psalm 16:11 NASB “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of JOY; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”
Psalm 16:11 AMPC “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”
Psalm 16:11 TPT “For you bring me a continual revelation of resurrection life, the path to the bliss (joy) that brings me face-to-face with you.”
Truth was told. Truth was demonstrated. Truth exposed the counterfeit. Matthew 23 highlighted the end of Jesus’ three- year ministry as He clearly challenged the religious authorities in front of His Jewish brethren. He removed the contrived insulation of the hearts, motives and actions of the religious tyrants. Pharisaism was exposed and warnings were given. The Lamb was not silent; The Lion was roaring. He was strong. He was intense. He was intentional. All were given opportunities to see Truth Himself, be filled with unspeakable joy, and repent. This is what JOY Himself knew would release them from the invisible hand of wickedness that had beaten them, that had terrorized them. He wanted them free. He wanted them to know Him, receive Him, be safe and secure in Him. He provided the way of escape, to free their minds, emotions, and wills from the strong forces that ruled them. Their eyes were blind because of their pride. If only they would respond. They not only missed “Captain Obvious” for themselves but modeled their blindness to the ones they valued most, their families and friends. And others followed their false humility. Jesus wanted to interrupt the pattern, so they could live in true joy and peace with our Father in Heaven. He spoke to the crowd while He stopped for the one. This is who He was and is today. They needed to see the True and Joyful Lamb who was about to lay His life down for them; the One they should follow. Their future depended on it. Joy came with a price.
As the Jewish people were under the Law, Jesus encouraged their obedience. However, He warned them in verses 3-4, 11-12 to not do according to the deeds of the scribes and Pharisees “for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are UNWILLING to move them with so much as a finger. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” Jesus revealed the hidden, stinky judgment, criticism, and arrogance that spewed forth from the deep pride they carried. He ruffled their feathers. He unveiled their hidden desires to live for themselves rather than for the Living God. His words cut deep and only those who were WILLING would hear. According to Psalm 16:11, Jesus came to show them the path to real life, to draw them into His presence to know lasting joy. He came to give them a continual revelation of resurrection life, to experience the pleasures of becoming one with Him, as they desired Him. They could have been drawn into encounters with Him, face-to-face, as they could soon be filled with the Holy Spirit. 50 days after the Passover, Pentecost would erupt. The Holy Spirit would be poured out as promised (Acts 1:8, Acts 2). This would be New Covenant living, and Jesus didn’t want any person to miss this amazing blessing. Acts 2:28 AMPC clearly lays out God’s purposes for us with life in the Spirit, as Psalm 16:11 is remembered: “You have made known to me the ways of life; You will enrapture me (diffusing my soul with joy) with and in Your presence.” Pure bliss and joy, in the middle of uncertainty and extreme persecution, was on the table for them to receive and release to others. Their unwilling hearts said no to that glorious prospect.
He then laments for Jerusalem in verses 37-39: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were UNWILLING. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!” Jesus would enter Jerusalem a short time later as the Conquering King (Mark 11:7-10), joyfully riding on a donkey for what was intended (by others) to be a grand celebration during Passover. Instead, Jesus became the Passover Lamb and Sacrifice for the very ones waving palm branches. This was the final opportunity for those to see and lay down their strong-willed pride and embrace the One who would cause them to stumble. He was the Rock of offense. 1 Peter 2:8 NLT states “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall. For us today, we stumble because we don’t believe. We don’t believe the Word. We act on our disobedience as we choose less than the Lord’s best. Because we want what we want…and get it. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the treacherously essential crucifixion was about to occur. Because of their UNWILLING hearts to lay down their pride, the enemy was able to continue to quietly and secretly steal from them to keep them blind and joyless. They got what they wanted. Joy was unable to mark them. It grieved Jesus, Joy Incarnate. Today is no different.
Scene 2: Temple Court in Jerusalem – Focus
As Jesus was leaving the temple courts, his disciples came to Him and pointed out the beautiful aspects of the architecture of the temple structures. That was not on Jesus’ mind. He said, “Take a good look. For I am telling you, there will not be one stone left upon another. It will all be leveled.” (Matthew 24:1-2 TPT) Jesus just prophesied the destruction of the Temple. Was He in joy? The Jews lived in the middle of chaos and uncertainty, and now this. Their beloved structure and all it stood for was to be decimated? Again? What a fearful thing to hear. What was the purpose in giving this powerful word? He would not waste a moment. There was Holy urgency. He loved them so much. He wanted them to know that their eyes would be opened as they looked completely to Him. He was willing. They were not.
Scene 3: Mount of Olives – Preparation
Jesus’ final teachings and impartations were essential. He had a lot to say about the end of the age and His return. He wanted to leave the hungry ones with great food for their souls, as they gathered to listen. After all, He was leaving earth very soon. According to Matthew 24:3, Joyful Jesus was relaxed and seated when His disciples took Him aside privately and wanted answers: How would they know the time of the Master’s return? When would the end of the age come? What would be the sign?
His brilliant response in Matthew 24:4: “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.” His concern for their spiritual safety reflected His deep love for them, and us. Jesus highlights a few futuristic scenarios and concludes in verse 14, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” This was made known for them prior to His death – even before He finished telling them of the peril in the last days. Jesus knew that this was essential. He always provided hope and direction in the midst of what He knew would sustain them in adversity. They needed to waste (spend) their life on Him and spread the Gospel of the Kingdom as their highest aim. Holy consecration was His highest desire. This would be possible if they said yes.
The enemy hoped Crucifixion would scatter Jesus’ followers. God had another plan. The coming joyful mandate, The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), was given after the Resurrection. Every message, every word, every whisper was laced with joy. According to Hebrews 12:2 TPT, “We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the JOY of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God.”
His Glorious Return
Matthew 24 NASB continues to spell out what will happen during His Glorious return in verses 29-31: “But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the power of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”
The signs of the times are increasing in frequency and intensity, and Jesus wants us to be ready for His coming. “Therefore, be on the alert for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason, you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will (Matthew 24:42-44).” And, He told of the judgment after: “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and the angels with Him, then He will sit on His Glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and he will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on His left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’” (Matthew 25:31-34) He then emphasizes the good works that must accompany those who are righteous and will inherit eternal life (Matthew 25:35-46).
Within the context of these two chapters, Jesus preached and taught how to see, how to know, how to stand, how to wait, and how to be ready for all that was essential. He never wasted the time He had. He was always focused on Heavenly matters in peace and joy, even up to the point of death. The Lamb who was Slain before the foundation of the world was giving His grand farewell to the masses, as He prepared them for the full shaking of their lives. His days were numbered so ours would be full. “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:11 NASB) He ended this historical impartation saying to His disciples in Matthew 26:2: “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.” Simultaneously, the plot to seize and kill Jesus was thickening as the chief priests and elders of the people were gathered in the court of the high priest, Caiaphas (verses 3-5). Jesus would not waste a moment. He was always tuned in and speaking what would spread the Father’s love, strengthening His followers. Joy was at stake.
Scene 4: Bethany – A Joyful Place of Purpose
The man, Simon, who knew the power of Jesus, welcomed him with joy into his home. He had been delivered and healed of leprosy. The supernatural had become the natural and he knew the One who set him free. The final preparation had begun. Within two days, Passover would ensue (Matthew 26:6).
As seen in Matthew 26:7-13 TPT, the recognition of Jesus as Lord and Savior was acted upon by a woman desperate to bless Him. She had encountered Jesus earlier and He set her free of demons. She had such gratitude in her heart that she couldn’t hold back her affection and devotion. She encountered the King and was never the same. She was drawn by the joy in her heart to express her worship to Him:
“A woman came in the house, holding an alabaster flask filled with fragrant and expensive oil. She walked right up to Jesus, and in a lavish gesture of devotion, she poured out the costly oil, and it cascaded over his head as he was at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were offended. ‘What a total waste!’ they grumbled. ‘We could have sold it for a great deal of money and given it to the poor.’ Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Why are you critical of this woman? She has done a beautiful act of kindness for me. You will always have someone poor whom you can help, but you will not always have me. When she poured the fragrant oil over me, she was preparing my body for burial. I promise you that as this wonderful gospel spreads all over the world, the story of her lavish devotion to me will also be mentioned in memory of her.’”
The wasted oil and life of this woman was truly pleasing to Jesus. This was a woman of tender joy. This act of love was to prepare Him for burial, which came after the Crucifixion, and she had to find Him. How did this woman know that Jesus would soon die? What revelation and understanding were released from Heaven to prompt her to do what the Father directed her? Her heart was devoted.
The disciples saw this differently. They didn’t recognize the worshipful love that came from a heart of gratitude and joy. They didn’t recognize what she was doing, and they didn’t recognize Jesus. They were joyless. They criticized and judged, as did the Pharisees. Jesus continued to open their eyes as He gave them more opportunities to lay down their lives for Him, to become wholly devoted to Him in word and deed. They lived with Jesus, traveled with Jesus, yet their familiarity with Him didn’t result in total holy devotion and consecration to Him.
Scene 5: The Garden of Gethsemane – It’s Time
As stated in Matthew 26:36-46 NASB, the disciples were asked to watch and pray, to stand with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane during His final hour. They had a measure of love for Him, yet they slept. Three times Jesus spoke to them to wake up and intercede. He was very grieved as they ignored Him, as He knew what this meant for them. They had heard it all. They were in every scene. This was their wake-up call to respond to Love Himself before He walked out His greatest act of love. They missed the awakening.
We are in a new era. A great outpouring of the Holy Spirit is our portion in these days. As we contend for all that the Lord is doing in this final hour, may we consider the Lamb who was Slain and the Lion of Judah soon returning. May we seek His beautiful face, and trust Him fully to live an empowered life, filled with joy and peace, as we behold Him as the Lamb in the center of the throne (Revelation 5:6-8). May we review the scenes in our lives that are designed to lead us to great thanksgiving and joy in Jesus, as we consider His final words to the disciples before He was arrested in the Garden:
ARE YOU STILL SLEEPING AND RESTING? GET UP, LET US BE GOING; BEHOLD, THE ONE WHO BETRAYS ME IS AT HAND” Matthew 26:45,46.
Joy has a powerful voice; a wasted life has a powerful voice. May we be filled up today with all that He has for us and run our race with Him as we joyfully declare: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing. To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever (Revelation 5:12, 13b).” From Passover to Pentecost in 2020, we are seeking Heaven as never before. We say YES to all the Lord is releasing in this hour. Come Holy Spirit. Come in Power and Joy! Now is the time for great harvest to begin. The Lord has released us into an unprecedented era of a literal Passover and Pentecost for His end -time purposes. Last week’s message (Draw the Line) highlighted that. Seek the Lord as never before. Be open, be ready. The best is yet to come.