SPECIAL SUNDAY SERVICE WITH PASTOR (DR) MENSA OTABIL (GENERAL OVERSEER, INTERNATIONAL CENTRAL GOSPEL CHURCH (ICGC) CHRIST TEMPLE, ACCRA GHANA)
TOPIC: JESUS CHRIST: A TRUE PARADOX
DATE: 2ND APRIL 2023
BIBLE TEXT: MATTHEW 21:1-5, 12-16
Let us rise up together as we make our “DECLARATION OF GATHERING” in this “YEAR OF GATHERING”.
Are you ready? Say with me:
I Proclaim Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. The Lord is the Shepherd of my Soul, my Shelter by Day, my Light by Night.
In His Name, we Plough our fields, by His Spirit we gather the Harvest, in His Light we seek and find.
In this Year of Gathering, the Lord of the Harvest has commanded: Launch Out into the Deep. At His Words, we cast our Nets, we gather in Souls and Substance for God’s Kingdom.
The Lord is our Reward; in this Season I received God’s Portion set aside for me: Full Measure, Pressed down, Shaking together and running over.
Nothing is Lost and Nothing is wasted in Jesus Name – Amen!
Today I will be speaking of the Topic, JESUS CHRIST: A True Paradox.
A Paradox is not a word we usually use in our conversations. You don’t talk to People in Paradox in normal conversation.
However, it is an idea that is very familiar to all of us, whether we know the word ‘Paradox’ or not.
Just before I go into the substance of my Preaching, I want to define for you what I mean by a Paradox.
What is a Paradox?
A Paradox is a seemingly Self Contradictory Statement that when investigated,may Proof to be well founded and true.
That means, when we say something is a Paradox, it is combining two (2) Statements that seem to be Opposite.
And Jesus Christ within Himself joined many times, Statements that seemed to be Opposite: “Jesus is fully God and fully Man.” That is a Paradox!
It is not usual for a Person to be fully God and to be fully Man. There is no Human Being ever, who has lived in this Earth, who was fully God and fully Man.
And that is Jesus Christ:
I. “He is both the Son of God and the Son of Man” – That’s a Paradox!*
II. “He is Holy yet He bore the sins of the world.” – That’s a Paradox!
III. “He is both a Merciful Saviour and a Severe Judge.” – That’s a Paradox!
So, in Jesus Christ sometimes we see two (2) opposites coming together.
And in His Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem, I identified some Paradoxes of Jesus Christ. And I going to talk about them this Morning;
There are Three (3) Paradoxes I am going to bring to our attention:
1. The first Paradox of Jesus Christ s that: “He is both Majestic and Modest.”
Matthew 21:1-5 (NKJV);
1 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,
2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me.
3 And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”
4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:
5 “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
Jesus is Perceived as a Triumphant King. And that’s how the People received Him when He entered into Jerusalem.
And it is very instructive that the People themselves saw Him as a King. But Matthew reminds us that this was in accordance with the Prophecy earlier started by the Prophet Zechariah – That the King would come sitting on a Donkey.
The People saw Jesus Christ as King – They laid their clothes before Him, as they had done in time Past for People who were Kings, or Warriors who were coming from a Triumph! And so they laid their clothes before Him. And they raised Easter Palm Branches and declared His Praise.
And as they did, they cries, “Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David.”
It is a very interesting Statement – First, because the word ‘Hosanna’ is from the Hebrew.
Two (2) words: ‘Hosa’ means “Save” and ‘Nna’ means, “I asked”.
So, “Hosanna” means “Please, Save now”; “Help us”.
Basically that is what the People were saying. Because they were under the Romans Domination, and they saw Jesus as the Deliverer.
That’s why they said, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” – Because, according to the Old Jewish Prophecies, David would return.
. . David is the Glorious King of Israel.
He is the one who United them Properly and won Victories for them.
After David came his son (Solomon); and after his son everything went bad.
If you look at the Israelites History, David it is!
And so, the Prophets had declared that God would raise a King like David, Who would come and deliver the People. And they saw in Jesus Christ that fulfilment of Prophecy.
That’s why they said Hosanna – “Save Us”, Son of David.
In other words, “You Who come like David, come and deliver us.”
They were looking for Material and Political Deliverance at that time.
Jesus Christ was known as a King, yet He Presented Himself as a “Suffering Servant”.
He knew He was a King, the People received Him as a King; yet He came sitting on a Donkey.
Kings don’t ride on Donkeys: they come on Horses.
If you were Present at that time, and watched this, you would asked yourself, “what kind of a King is this?”
It’s like what happens in Ghana when we are in a Political Season (which we will enter very soon). And as Presidential Candidates, Flagbearers of Parties enter areas to go and Campaign, there is a huge Gathering.
Most times People would gather before the entrance of the Town or a City and they would be singing Party Songs, and so on! And then there will be a Convoy coming with Despatch Riders and Bicycle Riders – You know, just at no cost.
And then the Presidential Candidate comes on a 4-Wheel Drive; in the Open Window, waving his hands. And most times, White handkerchief. And everybody just know that the King has arrived.
Can you imagine such a thing: Somebody is entering a City and we think, “The Redeemer of Ghana is coming.” People are Gathering and Depatch Riders are going on and on…
And then the Presidential Candidate comes and he is sitting on a 3-Tyre Shuttle Van (Tricycle). Can you imagine what will happen? We are expecting a King and look at what he is riding on!
That’s what is happening here in Jerusalem – The King is coming. What is He riding on? A Donkey!
… That’s the Paradox – Majestic, Modesty!
And Jesus Christ teaches us – “Although we are Kings, we should not go looking like Kings.” He went about looking like a Servant.
And many times when People think we are Great, we want everybody to know how Great we are.
In this days of Social Media, Image Making is everything. If Image Making was important to Jesus, He would not have ridden on a Donkey.
Majestic and Modesty! That’s the Christian Life. We are Kings, Queens, Powerful, Anointed; but when we Present ourselves, it must be Humility and Service to People.
… That’s the first Paradox of Jesus – A Majestic King Who Present Himself in Modesty.
2. The Second Paradox of Jesus is that: “He is both a Disruptor and a Constructor.”
12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.
13 And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”
14 Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.
One of the things you would Note about these Events is how Prophetic they were. Every act of Jesus Christ is related to a Scripture.
So, Matthew is reminding us: things are not just happening, Scripture is being played out.
Because in Isaiah 56:7, there is a Prophecy there:
“Even them I will bring to My holy Mountain, and make them Joyful in My House of Prayer. Their burnt Offerings and their Sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a House of Prayer for all Nations.”
… That’s what Jesus is quoting.
And Jeremiah 11: 8-11 says; Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone followed the dictates of his evil heart; therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this Covenant, which I commanded them to do, but which they have not done.’”
And the Lord said to me, “A Conspiracy has been found among the men of Judah and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers who refused to hear My words, and they have gone after other gods to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My Covenant which I made with their fathers.” Therefore thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will surely bring calamity on them which they will not be able to escape; and though they cry out to Me, I will not listen to them.
Jesus is combining these two (2) Scriptures – So when He says, “My house shall be called a House of Prayer”, He was quoting Scripture.
When He also said, “you have made it a den of thieves”, He was also quoting Scripture.
Every Playing out is in honour of the Scripture of the Word of God.
So what is the Paradox?
– Jesus Passionately drove out those who defiled God’s House;
– Jesus was a very Radical Person.
If it was in our times, we would call Him a Revolutionary – He did not compromise on His Values. And as He entered the Temple (the day after His Triumphant Entry), it was a very Good Thing.
And you need to have a background to how this happened. The Temple in Jerusalem had four (4) Main areas where People could go to.
I. The first area was the Area of the Priests – That’s the Holy Place.
And the Priest would go there and make the Sacrifice. Ordinary People don’t go there.
So, when they went to the Temple on a Festival Day to Worship, the Priest go to the Holy Place.
II. Then there is a Second Place – It is the Place of Men.
That is where the men stand to Worship when they went to Church. They weren’t like us now – Where men and women are mixed up together. But the men went to their Place, near the Holy Place.
III. Then there is a Third Compartment – The Women’s Place.
Sorry women, you are behind in that order: But Thank God we are now together. That’s how it was then.
There was a third Compartment, and that is where the women would go in the Temple and Stand – They don’t go and mix up with the men.
And if you go to the Church, you don’t sit by your husband. Your husband goes to the men’s place, you are with the women. It is still practiced in other religions; it is unique to Judaism.
Those are some of the things that make you appreciate Christianity, when Paul says, “in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female; Slaves or Freeborn.” In other words, he was addressing a very major situation if his time.
IV. Then there is the Fourth Place – The Place for the Gentiles.
The Gentiles are everyone who is not a Jew – You and me.
So, if we went to the Temple in Jerusalem at that time, we will not go to the Holy Place – We are not Priests.
We will not go to the Men’s Place neither will we go to the Women’s Place. Our Place is after the women; that’s the Gentile’s Place.
Now I want you to have this in Mind, because what is happening here – When Jesus goes to the Temple and overturned Tables; He doesn’t do it in the Holy Place, He doesn’t do it in the Men’s Place or the Women’s Place; He does it in the Gentile’s Place.
And why is it so? It is because, of all the areas in the Temple, the Gentile’s Place is the most Unholy area (so to speak): because that is where the Gentiles are.
And it is the largest area in the Temple.
That’s where People gather – That’s where the Poor, the Beggars, the Sick and the Blind People are. Everybody goes to the Gentile’s area – It is a kind of an Omnibus area.
And that is where also, the trading took Place – The Gentiles are People who were not Naturally Jews, but had converted to be Jews.
So when it’s time for a Festivities, they would come – Some would come from different Places, all over! Some would even come from Africa.
Remember the Ethiopian Eunuch – If he went to Jerusalem, he would be in the Gentile’s Place. And when they came to the Gentile’s Place, they came with money (of their territories).
And the Jews would say, you can’t use your money to come and worship God. And you cannot even buy things to worship God with your money, because your money is not Sanctified.
So what they do is that, these Gentiles would come, and they have to convert their money from their Countries into what is called “Temple Currency.” And then they would use the Temple Money to buy the doves and the animals they would use for Sacrifice.
And so that you know: it is a big business! And this is where some of the big Priests in the Jewish Hierarchy – They owned Interests in these Tables and Stores.
Because People come and they would Change their Currency. And then they Change their Currency, they do it with a fee. They Tax them for Changing the money into Temple Currency.
And when they use the Temple Currency to buy doves, they also Charge them.
So it wasn’t really Profitable to be a Gentile going to Jerusalem.
So, this is what is going on.
And so that’s where Jesus comes to, and He understands what is going on – Everybody knows it’s wrong; the Law forbids it. Everything they know forbids it but Nobody can touch it because this is where the big shots are Trading.
Jesus comes in, and with Holy Anger and Holy Passion, He goes to the Gentiles Area, and He overturned the Tables and the Benches; and just threw away the Tables of the money Changers and free the birds.
And you wonder, “why didn’t anybody touch Him?” It’s because the People have been saying”He is a Prophet.
And if you know anything about the Jews, they fear Prophets (like we do in Ghana).
They remembered Elijah took down four hundred and fifty (450) Baal’s Prophets. So, when a Prophet is acting, they don’t interfere.
The People said, this is a Prophet from Nazareth, He is angry, He has overturned the tables. In any case, what He is doing is right – You can’t touch Him.
… But they took Note of Him and said, we have to deal with Him.
So that is what happened – He (Jesus) didn’t go to the Main Temple to do this; He did it in the outer space is the Gentile’s Area.
It’s always so important to get in context, what is happening in the Bible. Otherwise you may think that we just shout in Church, stand in Church. Today we are to scatter things in Church!
That’s not what Jesus did. He did it out there in the Gentile’s Quarters.
But what He did:
– He disrupted their System;
– He overturned Tables;
– And He did it with Passion.
I have always wondered how it looked like! I can imagined Jesus’ Passion, His Anger, because they Polluted God’s Sanctuary. And He overturned it in the Paradox: He Passionately drove out those who defiled God’s House.
But look at what He did: He Compassionately brought those who have been defiled into God’s House.
Passionately drove out! Compassionately brought inside some People.
… And who are the People He brought in? – The blind and the Lame.
If you were blind in those days, even if you were a man, you couldn’t to to Worship in the Men’s Place because you are Imperfect.
Judaism is based on Perfection – Your body is Imperfect, you cannot go and Worship. You are blind, you are Imperfect.
These are People who are considered Defiled!
And Jesus went to the Temple to Minister to the Defiled – He brings one Group in; He takes one Group out.
The Group He sacks from the Temple are the ones who are the ‘Temple Owners.’
And the ones He brings in to Minister to and heal are the ones the Temple Owners think are Nothing.
If there is anything about Jesus – He is a Man of Paradox. He can show both Anger and Mercy.
You know, many People like to see God only as a Merciful God – “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild”. That’s true! But He is also a Terrible Fiery Judge and you dare not fall into His Hands!
He is not all Love and Compassion for everybody; He is Compassionate, He a Merciful. But He is also a Judge!
And we know the Paradox – “He judges the Temple Leaders, but shows Mercy to the others of the Temple.”
… That is the Second Paradox!
3. And the Final one is that: “Jesus Christ is both Rejected and Received.”
15 But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant
16 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 babes and nursing infantsYou have perfected praise’?”
Jesus Christ is rejected by those who are high-minded – The Chief Priests, the Scribes, they are the bosses of the Temple. And they are indignant. That means they are angry at Jesus Christ.
As it happened then, so does it happen now: There are many People who are indignant at Jesus – High-minded People. You’ll find them in Academia: Professors, Scientists. They’ve learned so much, they think they know everything.
And they can’t even tell where they were before I get were born.
They can’t remember how Life was before they were born.
And they can’t even know where they are going after they die.
Yet, they believe they know everything!
You know, many times I read and People are talking about some Planet, down Galaxy; and they say it’s 360 Million Light years away. There is an atmosphere there! Human beings can be very, very Presumptuous.
Look at Vivid: it was here in our face. We couldn’t cure it. Yet you are looking at 360 Million Light years away. And you are trying to Prescribe what is going to happen in 360 Million Light years away.
Are you correct? But it is High Mindedness.
And they Portray the Theories which none of us can even argue against. Because they talk about things that you can’t even argue as they are just throwing cobwebs on your head.
And so they say, there is no God; Jesus is not this and Jesus is not that!
They are indignant when they see People Worship and Praising God, going to Church. They can’t take it!
There are some who reject Jesus; who are indignant at Him.
But at the same time, as there are People who are Indignant, there are also People who receive Him – He is received by those who are Humble.
Jesus says, “‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have Perfected Praise’?” (Matthew 21:6)
He was quoting Psalms 8:1-2; How Excellent is Your Name in all the Earth, Who have set Your Glory above the Heavens! Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have Ordained Strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may Silence the enemy and the Avenger.
Those who receive Christ, He says they are like babies.
It doesn’t mean they are ignorant. It just means that they have Humility and Purity of Heart. And that’s why they come to Jesus.
Our world would always have those who are indignant at Jesus, and those who receive Him – I don’t know which side you belong to.
Maybe you are one of those days, “you know these Church People don’t think.
Oh, they are Simple Minded People; they don’t know anything; they believe in fairy in the sky!”
People like to belittle Christianity, Faith in God, the Bible and Jesus Christ. And yet, they themselves know nothing. Nothing!
The Greatest Scientific Mind knows Nothing.
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About ninety nine Percent (99%) of why they say they know is Hypothesis – There is no Guarantee, there’s no Assurance.But they speak of it as if they know everything and yet it is all based on Hypothesis.
They were not there when it happened; they would not be there when it happens; they don’t understand what is happening; they don’t know when it happened. But they have a Theory about it.
And they think their Theory must be believed by you.
That’s High Mindedness!
… But we come as babies before the Lord, and we receive Him.
So this Palm Sunday we see Jesus Marching:
– He is coming in Majesty, but we see His Modesty;
– We see Him overturning tables with Passion, but at the same time Compassionate to those who are weak and disenfranchised;
– And we see People criticizing Him and others Praising Him.
There is always going to be Two (2) Groups of People. And you have to choose which one you belong to. It’s your choice – Nobody can force you to do that.
This morning, I just want to give you the Chance to make the Right Choice.
So, with every head bowed and every eyes closet, if you say “I want Jesus to be my Lord and Saviour.”
Maybe you come to Church but you’ve never given your Life to Jesus Christ. And today you want to make a Decision to make Jesus Christ the Lord of your Life; to accept Him as a baby. He will make you His Own.
If that’s your desire, wherever you are, just lift up your hands and I want us to Pray this Prayer together.
I want to to say with Sincerity of Heart with me:
Heavenly Father, I come to You today just as I am. I am a sinner, I cannot save myself.
I ask You Father, save me; Lord Jesus save me – Save me now: save me from my sins, save me from my bad habits, deliver me, and make me a Child of God.
I Thank You for accepting me.
In Jesus’ Name – Amen and Amen!
Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord!