Here is what I call a “Simple Guide for Bible Study.” It contains seven straightforward questions to get to the heart of a given passage of Scripture. The one below focuses on our sermon text for tomorrow (Matthew 21:1-17) which is the gospel narrative for Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem to be presented as the KING.
1. Point of the Passage
What does the text say? What is its main idea?
Jesus comes as a humble king, the great priest, and the final prophet to save, cleanse, and heal us.
2. Problem of the Passage
What does it say that I do not understand?
What is the significance of the donkey? Is it strictly to fulfill OT prophecy?
Yes, it happens to fulfill Scripture. But, there are some other significant truths attached: Donkeys were used by kings and became symbols of kingship. The horse was ridden by warriors; the donkey was used by those who were traveling peaceably. This informs us that Jesus is coming to establish his peaceable Kingdom.
Just as donkeys were used to carry burdens, Jesus comes to carry the ultimate burden…. the burden and curse of sin. Just as donkeys carry people, Jesus carries and brings people to God. At the beginning and the end of Jesus’ life, the donkey “knows its Master’s crib” (Isaiah 1:3) and its Master’s cross. The donkey carries him to his cradle and then to his cross.
Did the gospel writers just diligently read the OT to find Scriptural support for what Jesus said and did or did the Holy Spirit inspire them? Or both? I would say both!
3. Profit of the Passage
What does it say to me?
A. If you do not know Jesus for who he truly is, your heart will ultimately betray him. He will find your heart to be another place of crucifixion. The crowd’s loyalty and praise is fickle. The incessant hallelujahs and hosannas turned quickly into “Crucify him” and mocking him as he went lonely to the cross. Keep me faithful in my devotion to you King Jesus.
B. If my heart is a temple of the Holy Spirit, what are those things that are robbing me of intimacy and friendship with God? What is distracting me? My lackadaisical pursuit of the living God in believing prayer is convicting.
Jesus, you call God’s temple, your House. The primary activity that occurs there is prayer because prayer is the chief exercise of faith. It is the way that we actively demonstrate our trust in you.
Jesus, your House is also my heart. What in my life right now is displeasing to you? What relationship, endeavor, time wasters would you want to overturn and shut down?
C. Jesus comes as the final prophet to heal us to become uninhibited, fervent worshipers of him. How so? He foretold this would happen through the lips of King David 1,000 years before his earthly life. Little children would zealously praise him causing indignation and anger in the hearts of the religious leaders.
How often has my exuberance for Jesus waned or been curtailed by a debilitating self-consciousness? When you have personally experienced the wonderful work of Jesus, your heart will swell with praise.
Those who need Jesus’ healing touch come to him and worship him. Lord, help me to come and keep coming.
4. Parallel Texts for this Passage
What do parallel passages say about this theme? Use the analogy of faith and look for passages that address the same topic or issue.
Mark 11:1-11 – An unbroken colt “on which no one has ever sat.” The mention of the cleansing of the temple happens the next day, not the same day. There is no mention of the children.
Luke 19:29-40 – A whole multitude of his disciples were praising God with a loud voice. Their ascription of praise sounds familiar to the angelic announcement at Jesus’ birth. The Pharisees rebuke Jesus and challenge him to silence his worshipers. He beautifully challenges them by the jarring statement: If they stopped and were silent, the very stones would cry out.
John 12:12-19 – The one who comes in the name of the Lord is the King of Israel. His presence and coming banishes fear and brings salvation. There is a unique reference in this passage to the crowd that witnessed the raising of Lazarus was bearing witness to who he was upon his entry in to Jerusalem.
5. Proof of Memory of the Passage
What verse or parallel verse will you memorize?
and they 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 babies you have prepared praise’?”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 21:16). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
6. Pray the Passage
Based upon what you have discovered, what will you pray back to the Lord?
- As we ride with our humble Lord into the fickle and rebellious city, may His humility bring us to our knees in repentance and burn out of us the burdensome beast of pride.
- Do such a deep, transformative work in our heart that we are moved to put all that we are and all that we have under Your sway and rule, for you are the gentle King of glory. Grant us to hold nothing back in yielding all to your lordship.
- Send the Holy Spirit among us and do again wonderful things among your people. Apply the healing balm of your gospel to all of our hearts. Grant sight to those that are spiritually blind. Heal those whose hearts have been hurt and now walk with a spiritual limp.
- Please send from your presence times of spiritual refreshing and purify us so that we live for your praise and not for anyone or anything else.
- Overturn and root out of our lives any commitment, value, priority, relationship, action, thoughts, or attitudes that diminish your greatness and hinder us from living supremely devoted to you.
- Raise up oh Lord a new generation of fervent, uninhibited, and zealous worshipers. May the older generations model what this looks like, rather than continuing to allow a consuming self-consciousness to hinder us in our worship of you!
- Save us, cleanse us, and heal us for the glory of your great name and our eternal flourishing. For we pray in the name of our humble King, great Priest, and final Prophet – Jesus Christ our Lord, AMEN!
7. Prize the Passage
Prize what you have learned by sharing with others what the Lord has taught you. What is one thought from this passage which you can share with others?
The crowds ask: “Who is this?” Jesus Christ is the true Messiah because He comes as a gentle and humble King to rescue us, cleanse us and heal us so that we might fervently worship Him now and flourish forever in His peaceable kingdom.