Tidings for Tuesday

And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the Mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples. Matthew 21:1

The little village of Bethphage holds a special spot in the annals of Christ’s ministry. Situated at the eastern base of the Mount of Olives, Bethphage was within a day’s journey of Jerusalem, within the range from which bread could be baked and be presented at the temple. It was the first suburban community that the Lord Jesus would reach as He and His disciples made their way to Jerusalem. On His arrival in Bethphage, Jesus dispatched two disciples to obtain a donkey for His entry into the city. This was the first act of the final phase of His ministry, the very first step that would take Him from His triumphant entry to His shameful crucifixion. Bethphage deserves our special attention as we realize its great importance.

Bethphage signals the launching of the final sequences of the life of Christ before His crucifixion. Those final sequences are foretold in prophecy and confirmed during Jesus ministry. Those final sequences come at the conclusion of a life devoted to His Father’s business, a life of perfect harmony with His Father’s will, a life of selfless service to others. The sermons and miracles for which He had become famous were about to be set aside for the real purpose of His incarnation. Had we never heard of the sermons or miracles, it might not have made much difference. But if we had never heard of what transpired during His time in Jerusalem, we would never be saved. So, at Bethphage, as He sends for the donkey, and prepares to enter the city, we sit up and take notice because of the critical importance of what is to follow.

Bethphage has a lesson for us today, as we realize that the important decisions in our lives are based on taking that first, great step toward action. It is not enough to read and pray and fellowship with the saints, we need to – like the Lord Jesus did – issue the call for the donkey. We need to set in place the steps for obedience to God’s purposes for our lives. Those who need to be baptized must come forward with their request, as do those who need to be received into Assembly fellowship. Those who need to distribute Gospel tracts must gather the materials and set foot outside the door. Those who need to mend broken relationships with other Christians must take the necessary action to do so. Those who are involved in relationships and activities that interfere with their ability to properly serve the Lord must break those relationships and abandon those actions.

The Lord Jesus did not hesitate in His obedience when He reached Bethphage. We should follow His example. -Jim MacIntosh

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