“Why Did We Follow This Guy?”
March 14, 2023
I grew up wondering how the Jews could turn on Jesus so quickly. I wondered how wrong they had to be to shout “crucify him” on Good Friday- I mean who were these people? By reading the scripture and really diving into God’s Word as an adult, I think I have a better understanding. Let’s take some time and put ourselves in the shoes of the disciples and Jews. We need to start by remembering who the disciples (and people) thought the Messiah would be. It was shortly before the Triumphal Entry that we this exchange with James and John recorded in the verses above took place.
They seem to be looking at Jesus as an earthly Savior, not a spiritual one. It’s clear to see that the people did the same. They surely thought he was the Messiah, from his answers to the chief priests, scribes, elders, Pharisees and Sadducees as well as at the Triumphal Entry. Jesus fulfills scripture in Zechariah 9:9 by coming in on a colt: “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” He enters and the people shout “Hosanna!” and lay their clothes on the road and wave branches. They are seeing him as the coming Messiah to save them from the Romans. Jesus recognizes this in Luke 19:41-44: “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
We see this most clearly in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus is betrayed. I think the disciples were ready for the revolution to begin- Peter pulls his sword and attacks but misses. From John 18: 10-11; “Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’ I’d imagine that at this point the disciples were confused, and eventually frustrated. They had followed the Messiah for a long time- they had given up family and career to follow him, and when the rebellion begins, what does Jesus do? He surrenders. All the disciples flee. The only one we see following is Peter, and he vehemently denies Jesus three times in the court of the priest while Jesus is on trial.
I can imagine thoughts that were going on among the people. They had followed Jesus, had listened to him, and had watched him rebuke those in authority over the Jews. They had welcomed him as the king that would save them! But when time came to begin the fight, they thought was coming, Jesus caved. Jesus gave up. The fact that a couple days later people were shouting, “Crucify him!” is no surprise. I truly think I would have been one of them in the crowd. I think I would have been hurt, having been deceived by this man that was going to free us from the Romans. But friends, Sunday is coming. And then we see the real victory - the one that saves us all.
Prayer: Our Father, help us to have faith in the larger plan you have, and thank you not only for the Great Sunday, but thank you also for the Sundays we all have in our own lives. Amen.
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