Matthew 21:1-11 (Part 3) – Panthers, Tigers, Jesus and Fair-Weather Fans

Posted: February 23, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 21:1-11 (Part 3)

Jesus Rides into Jerusalem on a Donkey

 

Have you ever heard the term, fair weather fan? In sports, it means a person who becomes a so-called fan of a team when they are winning but jumps ship from that team when they start losing. This past football season you could see fair weather fans of the Carolina Panthers. As you may know, in the South, college football is king. Pro football is nice down here but it does not stir the passions of people the way college football does. I think it has something to do with the fact that we did not have our first pro football team in the Southeast until 1966 when the Atlanta Falcons came into existence. The Carolina Panthers are a relatively young team in that they did not come into the league until 1995. College football however has been around in the South since the late 19th century. But this year, when the Panthers began winning game after game, Bank of America Stadium became a hot ticket not just a nice thing to do on a Sunday afternoon. Partially full in years past gave way to sellout crowds. Many people who you had never seen claiming allegiance to the Panthers were now wearing the colors of black and Carolina blue. Panther merchandise sales went from lackluster to selling like hotcakes. Where we these fans when the Panthers were 8-8 some seasons, 4-12 in others? Yet, there are really some true Panther fans that have been with them since the beginning and simply love the Panthers because they are the Panthers.

 

You see this sort of allegiance in college football as well. Many of us Clemson fans are simply fans of the school and the family atmosphere that you feel on Saturdays in Clemson. Many of us just love the school and what it stands for in the history of our state, the school for the common man. Many of us just love the atmosphere of a small college town on a football weekend. There is nothing like it. Many of us have loved this team through thick an thin – the greatness of the teams of the 1950’s, the lean years of the 1960s and most of the 1970s, the glory years of 1977-1991, the mediocre, second-tier years of 1992-2008, and the road to greatness that began in 2009 and then these amazing past five seasons. There are fair weather fans that of course that have jumped on the Tiger bandwagon in the past few seasons, particularly this past season when the Tigers were undefeated until the very end when they lost to Alabama in the championship game by 5 points. This year saw Clemson become the chic choice of that new hot team by many who had possibly never even thought of Clemson before. That is what comes to mind, fair weather fans, when I read the conclusion of the passage, Matthew 21:1-11, particularly vv. 8-11:

 

 

21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

 

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

 

5 “Say to Daughter Zion,

   ‘See, your king comes to you,

gentle and riding on a donkey,

   and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

 

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

 

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

 

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

 

 

There are fair weather fans in this passage. They did not understand Jesus for who He really was. They did not understand what they were saying when they were hailing Him as the Son of David. They did not understand what the biblical Messiah really meant. He was just the new hot prophet in town and if He was the Messiah, he was going to be the one to change and create a new world order. A world order that would take down the prostitutional relationship between the religious elite of Israel and the Roman overlords. The common man in Israel saw the ruling elite of the Sanhedrin as being the puppets of Rome who were afraid to stand up to the might and power of Rome. They simply wanted to keep their power so they were trying to keep Rome from crushing Israel to smithereens. They became Roman sympathizers rather than the champions of Israel that the people wanted them to be. Thus, the common man in Israel no longer trusted the leaders of the Jewish religious establishment. They saw them in the same light as their Roman oppressors. To these people, Jesus was a breath of fresh air. They saw him as a political figure of the likes of David who had the popular support to overturn the religious establishment. Passover Week to them would be the week this would happen with Jesus in Jerusalem. Jesus’ run-ins with the religious establishment were well-known news by now. They thought they would witness change in the political order this week. They did not understand the Messiah nor what this week was meant for. They did not understand who the Messiah was. Though they were calling Him the Son of David, they did not understand what they were saying.

 

How often are we that way about Jesus ourselves? How often we that way about God in the flesh ourselves? We often see Jesus as being something that we want Him to be. We often see God as what we want Him to be. Some of see Jesus as the magic genie granter of our wishes. We expect that because we pay homage to Jesus as our Lord and Savior that He will grant our every wish and desire – not to unlike the Israelites in this passage. We think that we deserve only positive things because we profess belief in Jesus Christ. We think that just because we pray for what we want that Jesus will grant it. We think that because we are professing faith in Him that only good things, by our standards will happen to us. We get frustrated and fall away from Jesus when He doesn’t prove to be the genie that we think He should be. Not too unlike the people of Jerusalem when they found that Jesus had not come to vanquish the religious establishment and kick Rome out of Israel. They were disappointed when he did not come to town to gather and rally political support for the new world order that they desired.

 

To some of us, who do not understand Scripture, Jesus is this self-help guru that will make your life better if you follow Him. Many today simply do not understand who Jesus is and that includes many in our churches. We do not understand Scripture enough to understand what Jesus on the cross really means. There are many that do not understand what Jesus on cross means to their souls. Many today do not own a Bible and if they do they rarely read it and even fewer read it thoroughly to understand the true significance of the cross. Many of us today simply take it on other people’s word that Jesus died on the cross for them. They do not make the connection between the cross and their salvation. Some just go to church at Newspring or LifeSong or Redemption or The Well or any of a number of the new wave of churches in Upstate South Carolina because it is the cool thing to do but have no idea of the reason, purpose and connection that the cross has to their salvation. Unless we understand the significance and real purpose of Jesus and understand who He really is, we are susceptible to false beliefs about Jesus. We can make Jesus be whoever we want Him to be if we do not understand Scripture. We can make Him a vending machine of prayer requests. We can make Him be a peace-loving hippie who has no judgment in Him at all so that He will accept whatever lifestyle I lead – because Jesus loves me only. We can make Him a magic genie who grants all my wishes if I perform appropriately. When we do not understand Scripture, we can twist Jesus into saying what we want to believe to be right. We make Jesus into an acceptor of all types of behaviors that were once considered immoral by those of our past who actually read and understood Scripture. All of that stuff is old school according to those who don’t read Scripture. We can make our denominations more like the culture if we do not read Scripture. We can make Jesus into who and what we want if we don’t read Scripture.

 

These are the fair weather Christians. At the first sign of Jesus not being what we want Him to be, we are rats jumping off a ship when it starts leaving it port moorings. Some of us cannot accept that Jesus is the Son of God who came for a specific purpose other than self help and being a magic genie. Jesus came to call us to repentance. He came to point out our sins. He came to live a sinless life so that He could be the sacrifice on the cross for our sins. He completed God’s plan of redemption for our sins. But we first have to see our sins for what they are. We have to see that our sins cannot be justified as being OK in the sight of God. We have to be able to see that we actually need Jesus on the cross because of our inability to maintain righteousness 100% of the time our entire lives. In fact, we must be able to see that one sin condemns us to hell. Not some weighing scales. One sin. We need to be able to see that we cannot perform our way to heaven and that WE NEED JESUS ON THE CROSS. We need Jesus to point out sin as sin. We need Jesus to call us to repentance from our blind acceptance of our pet sins as being OK. We need to see that we need Jesus. He is not just some option. He is a necessity. We need Him to be what He really was. The real Messiah. The savior of our souls not our pocketbooks. The savior of our souls not our desires and wishes. The real Messiah of Scripture. Otherwise, we will be fair weather fans who like the Carolina Panthers now but will be gone next year if they don’t make the playoffs. Otherwise, we will be fair weather fans who will be gone next year if Clemson loses three games and doesn’t make the college football playoffs. Only those who really understand Jesus and what He means to us will be around next year and the year after and the year after. Read Scripture. Understand this Jesus. Understand what He really means to us.

 

Amen and Amen.

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