Light in the Darkness

“A very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:   “Hosanna to the Son of David!  ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’  Hosanna in the highest!”   Matthew 21:8-9

Chuck Warnoc, a small church pastor and regular contributor to Outreach Magazine, in a message titled, “What Kind of King Did You Expect?,” wrote, “If Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was triumphal on Palm Sunday, what went wrong less than a week later?

Why did the crowds who adored Jesus on Sunday, turn on him by Friday of that week?” Both the title and the questions are thought-provoking.

This is especially so in this day when there are so many different ideas and images of just who Jesus really is. Paul implied early on that there would be those who would proclaim a gospel (s) different from the one revealed by Jesus.

Such a perverted gospels would, come from men emanating from the human heart which God long ago warned is, “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”  (Jeremiah 17:9).

Such were the hearts of many in that crowd who greeted Jesus that day He rode into Jerusalem. It was the day we now call Palm Sunday, remembering the palm fronds and garments they used to pave His way.

They had their own idea who Jesus was and what He had come to do. And they were wrong.

A few days later, when they realized that Jesus was not who they had expected Him to be, many turned on Him and joined the crowds crying out for His crucifixion.

Not that their expectations did not seem reasonable to some degree. Certainly the Jewish people were right in their anticipation that a king would come from the line of David. Years before they had heard the rumors that this king had been born in Bethlehem.

And, after all, what do kings do but protect their people from their enemies?  In their case it was the occupying Roman forces.

What you might not know is that Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem that day was not the only one the people witnessed. Historians tell us that Pontius Pilate had come to Jerusalem that same day. He knew that the Passover Feast celebrated the deliverance of the Jews from their Egyptian oppressors. He was also aware of the rumors that a King and deliverer had been born of the Jews and there were rumors that Jesus was that king.

That, combined with the increased activity among the Zealots and others, caused Pilate to consider Jerusalem be at ‘Code Red’.

So, though his preferred headquarters was in Caesarea-by-the-Sea, he had traveled with a contingent of his finest military to Jerusalem just in case. On that day of two spectacular entries into Jerusalem, Pilate’s was a show of military might and strength while Jesus’ was meant to demonstrate just the opposite.

But back to the problem of the heart. All that threatening display of might and power on Pilate’s part, along with the heightened awareness that God was doing something spectacular caused many to believe that the deliverer, the Son of David, had come to dramatically overthrow the Roman oppressors and that meant the army which had just arrived.

Their desires for freedom and deliverance, fed by fertile imaginations led them to unbiblical expectations. Jesus was coming to show Rome who God’s people were!

Talk about anticipation and excitement! But a few days later they realized their mistake. Yet having made wrong assumptions, they did not blame themselves as they ought to have done, but rather turned on Jesus.

Oh, how he had let them down. He was, in many eyes, a fraud who had gotten their hopes sky high only to dash them to the ground and so,  “Crucify him!!”, they screamed.

What do you do when the Jesus you thought you knew doesn’t do for you as you expected? In your disappointment do you turn away from Him or do you in humility, recognize who it is who was wrong?

The true test of faith and those who prove they have it, are those who remain faithful and obedient even when the Savior disappoints. They recognize that the disappointment resulted not from His lack of love or ability, but from our own desires and expectations that distorted our image of who He is.

Pastor David M. Grey      

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church 

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