You Have Been Replaced
Context is King, Author’s Aspirations to his Audience are Apex, Genre is the General, Expository Exegesis of Examples Enlightens, and Dividing Rightly the Word of Truth either confirms or cancels our preconceived notions and presuppositions. We begin with the context. Matthew 21:1-17
And when they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them, and bring them to Me. “And if anyone says something to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” Now this took place that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “SAY TO THE DAUGHTER OF ZION, ‘BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU, GENTLE, AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY, EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.’” And the disciples went and did just as Jesus had directed them, and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid on them their garments, on which He sat. And most of the multitude spread their garments in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees, and spreading them in the road. And the multitudes going before Him, and those who followed after were crying out, saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!” And when He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” And the multitudes were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant, and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABES THOU HAST PREPARED PRAISE FOR THYSELF’?” And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and lodged there.
Replacement Theology, or; Supersesionism, is the belief that the church replaced, or, superseded Israel through the New Covenant. While I agree that the New Covenant surpassingly supersedes the old, I don’t see the church as “better,” or a replacement for Israel. It’s sad to say but the church is exactly like Israel. That is, the Covenant supersedes, but we, as a “church,” resemble Israel–at least I do. One cannot study the Old Testament tutor and think, “I am glad that I am not like them.” The church is a “type” of them, Paul writes this in 1 Corinthians 10. Nevertheless, I am not here to argue that the church supersedes or supplants Israel, but that Jesus does.
I believe that Matthew, the former scum-of-the-earth, tax gatherer, who was Jewish, presents to his first-century, Jewish audience, Jesus as the true Israel. Pharisees, priests, scribes, Saudducees, kings, judges, rabbis, synagogue attendants, Moses, David, Noah, Elijah, Abraham and lay people, are all guilty, just like us. Only one man can save anybody from either group, which incedently; he has “made the two into one;” his name is Jesus. And he is entering the holy city of Jerusalem, with his disciples’ clothes for a saddle, without bow or sword, riding on a donkey.
Words from Matthew and or Old Testament tutor describe Jesus as, humble, gentle, victorious and vindicated. Jesus is entering Jerusalem triumphant for being obedient to his Father. He withstood the wiles of the devil and remained sinless. And therein lies the rub. Israel=sin: We=sin. But Jesus had never sinned. He’s Israel’s replacement and our’s.
“And when He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, ‘Who is this?’ And the multitudes were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.’ We remember another time that Jesus caused a stir in Jerusalem. “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.’ And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”
I told you Jesus was the king of controversy. He caused quite a stir by his birth and now he’s causing a stir by entering Jerusalem on a donkey. The word “stir,” can also be be defined as, “shaken” or “agitated.” The people want to know who this man is that is causing quite a stir. They are told, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” At least they got his name right. But we must see what Jesus saw and hear what Jesus heard; they shouldhave said, “This is Jesus, the Son of the living God!” We’ll come back to this.
“And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves.”
Last time we considered many Old Testament places in which God was “worshipped.” The culmination of which was the temple in Jerusalem, built by Solomon. For 440 years the Tabernacle, or, tent of meeting, was where God was worshipped, in various places, but the temple replaced, or, superseded, the Tabernacle. However, Solomon’s Temple was superseded by sin and it was destroyed by Babylon after only standing for approximately 400 years. Then Ezra, Nehemiah, Zerubbabel and others, rebuilt the temple and the walls after several decades. Then just before Jesus became flesh, Herod did major renevations to the temple, sans the Ark of the Covenant. But something greater than the temple was in their midst, and he rode in on a donkey and overturned the tables of the money changers and those selling doves.
What’s wrong with selling doves? Consider the law for women after they gave birth; Leviticus 12 reads; “this is the law for her who bears a child, whether a male or a female. ‘But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.’” Now consider Luke 2, concerning Mary and the birth of Jesus; “And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘EVERY first-born MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD’), and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, ‘A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES, OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS.'”
The parents of Jesus were poor, their sacrifice was two doves. Therefore, the people selling doves were making money off poor sinners. It’s just that simple. Like Zechariah states, people have turned the house of prayer into a robbers den. Jesus took out righteous retribution on them. Offerings sold for a profit, that would make Martin Luther angry. But my words mean little, consider what Jesus said, “And He said to them, ‘It is written, “MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER”; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.’”
We notice that Jesus let them know that he was quoting their precious law, which they were breaking. “It is written;” Jesus really hit them where it hurts. Here they are, acting pious in the temple but completely missing the mark. And it gets worse–much worse–hard to believe, worse.
“And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.” How is that worse? That’s not worse, that’s the good part, but there is always a “but.” Jesus, while in the midst of a stirred up city, with people making profits off people’s sin, Jesus takes the time to heal people, “But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were crying out in the temple and saying, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they became indignant, and said to Him, ‘Do You hear what these are saying?’”
Jesus is doing wonderful things in the midst of a stirred city, to people who don’t get it, facing his impending death, and the priests and scribes accosted him. They were angry with Jesus, they were indignant. Jesus was making them mad. We see that things have devolved deeply–the situation is getting much worse and this is where it gets good.
“’Do You hear what these are saying?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Yes; have you never read, “OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABES THOU HAST PREPARED PRAISE FOR THYSELF?'” Notice the response of Jesus, who once again quotes their Testament, by which they claim to live. Jesus responded in the affirmative, “Yes.” Yes, Jesus hears what they are saying. Yes, it is prophecy of this particular point in time. Yes, Jesus is receiving Praise from the children which he himself had prepared. Problem; that means that the scribes and priests are being replaced. And they cannot handle this.
Notice Psalm 8; “O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Thy name in all the earth, Who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens! From the mouth of infants and nursing babes Thou hast established strength, Because of Thine adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease. When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him? Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God, And dost crown him with glory and majesty! Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, The birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Thy name in all the earth!”
Jesus really let’s the scribes and priests have it–this is the aspiration of Matthew to his first-century audience, that Jesus is the Messiah and the replacement of Israel and the temple and the holy place. This relatively short passage in Matthew has five different Old Testament quotes and each one either condemns the people or elevates Jesus. Jesus rides in to Jerusalem as the prophet said and what does Jesus find? Nothing has changed and the people don’t recognize him for who he is. The people recognize him as a prophet, and hope he will restore things, that is, evict Rome. But he has come to replace them, to take their place, to pay their debt, but they don’t get it. We will see this as we continue.
“And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and lodged there.”