The Final Week of Jesus 2020: Day 4
So… What happened?
What happened between the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday and the crowds shouting “Crucify Him!” on Good Friday? In just a few short days, how did people transform from shouting “Hosanna!” and waving palm branches into an angry mob ready to kill Jesus?
Again, there is more going on underneath the surface.
You might remember Day 1 when we looked at the word, hosanna. It does not just mean “save us” but carries the idea of “save us, NOW!” It’s a desperate cry for help. “Please come to our rescue, as soon as possible!” This is demonstrated in the palm branches, an act of worship associated with the coming Messiah. Along with the palm branches, the crowds also threw cloaks on the ground. These cloaks give us a glimpse of what the people were expecting.
Making a Throne
In the book of 2 Kings, the Jewish people were under oppression, not from an outside force like Rome, but from their very own wicked king. His name was Ahab.You may be more familiar with his wife… Jezebel. Ahab and Jezebel were two of the most wicked leaders Israel ever had. And in 2 Kings 9, God was ready to do something about it. The prophet Elisha sent a younger prophet to the town of Ramoth Gilead. (Stick with me. This will all make sense in a moment). Once the prophet arrived, he was instructed to find a man named Jehu and anoint him king. Jehu was then given the task to overthrow the wicked government and establish the throne that God desired. Here is where it gets really interesting. King Ahab was in the capital city of Samaria, where the throne was located. There was no throne in Ramoth Gilead. The people were so excited to have a new king, they wanted to make a throne for Jehu.
This is what the Lord says: “I anoint you king over Israel.” They quickly took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, “Jehu is king!” -2 Kings 9:12-13
The people threw their cloaks on the ground and stacked them up, creating a throne for the new king. Fascinating!
As we ready over the story, there is another layer we can peel back: The time of these events. This was the Passover. The Last Supper between Jesus and His disciples was most likely the traditional Passover meal, known as a Seder. Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, was created to remember and celebrate the deliverance of Israel from the oppression of Egypt. In Exodus 12, Moses, himself, tells the people why they have the Passover meal.
And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” -Exodus 12:26-27
…When he struck down the Egyptians. This is what was on the people’s minds as Jesus entered Jerusalem.
So let’s recap:
- During the time of Jesus, the Jewish people were under the oppression of the Roman Empire.
- The Jewish people of Jesus’s day believed Messiah was coming to save them, not spiritually, but through a political takeover that would set up Israel as a world power.
- When Jesus entered Jerusalem, He was riding the colt of a donkey, fulfilling the prophecy of how Messiah would begin His Kingdom.
- When Jesus entered Jerusalem, it was during the time of Passover, a celebration of God delivering the people of Israel “when he struck down the Egyptians.”
- The people shouted and praised Jesus, waving palm branches for the Messiah, and throwing cloaks on the ground, a symbol that they were making a throne for Him to be their king.
This was the social climate of the final week of Jesus’s life on earth. The emotional and political tension was escalating to a fever pitch. As I read the events of this week, it feels like someone blowing up a balloon past its capacity to hold air. Something is about to pop.
So, why did the people turn on Jesus in just a few days? Because nothing happened. Specifically, because Jesus didn’t do what they thought He was going to do.
Even though they didn’t celebrate April Fool’s Day, the people probably felt like Jesus was playing a big joke on them. He came into the city as Messiah. He knew the oppression His people were feeling at the hands of Rome. Yet, as each day passed, Jesus did nothing.
When we look through this lens, it’s easy to see why the people turned so quickly. It’s almost human nature. When we are the most passionate, the most emotional, and the most invested in something, that’s also when we have the capacity to be the most disappointed. If something doesn’t take place that you don’t care about, well, you don’t care. But what about those things that you care for deeply? When those things don’t turn out the way you hoped, that leads to frustration and anger. In the case of Jesus, it led the crowd to outrage.
Each day, the people became more angry, until they realized Jesus wasn’t going to overthrow Rome. Then, Jesus is arrested. Messiah is the deliverer. Messiah can’t be arrested. And so, by the time Pilate stands before the people, they have changed their collective minds. No longer is Jesus Messiah. He is now a liar and a fraud. He is an enemy of the people. This April Fools joke can only have one response: Crucify Him!
On Sunday, we asked if you’ve had a “God, save me now!” moment. Today’s lesson is connected to that idea, but different in one significant way. “Hosanna moments” come in times of need. We call out to God and ask for Him to save us when we have questions or when we are in trouble. Today’s lesson comes after we feel like God has spoken in our lives. It’s when we feel like we have been the butt of a bad April Fools joke by God.
“But, God, I thought you said…”
“I had peace about this, but now it has all fallen apart.”
“God, I believed you would heal her, but…”
These are the moments that can quickly turn to frustration and anger. Let’s be honest… Jesus knew what He was doing. He knew the people would feel deceived. I don’t understand it. Maybe He knew that is what it would take for the people to crucify Him, and in turn, bring salvation to humanity. The point is, I can’t promise that God will never do things in life to upset you or even disappoint you (in those moments, go back and read Isaiah 55:9, again). Even the prophet, Jeremiah, felt that way:
“You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me.” -Jeremiah 20:7
A prophet, the man of God, cries out and says, “You deceived me, Lord!” I love that this verse is in the Bible. Something about it gives me comfort. And I love this, as well… God never corrects Jeremiah. It wasn’t like he was punished for speaking his mind to God. On the contrary, it was like Jeremiah had to get it off his chest. He was speaking out of a place of deep hurt, yet he was working through it. Just a few verse later, Jeremiah wrote these words:
“But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” -Jeremiah 20:9
There are times in life we may feel like God has deceived us. We thought He told us one thing, but it didn’t work out.
The healing didn’t come.
The job fell through.
I don’t have all the answers for those times in our lives. What I do know is that God is big enough to handle our frustrations. He still wants us to come to Him. If my son were to get angry with me, I would want him to come and talk to me so we could work through it, together. The worst thing he could do would be to ignore me. And when we get frustrated with God, the worst thing we can do is to walk away and ignore him, as well.
Where are you at? Have you had times that you felt deceived by God? Have there been prayers that you thought had been answered… until they weren’t? Have you been frustrated or angry with God? Many of us have felt this way at some point in our lives. The real question is: Will you walk away and ignore Him or will you go and talk to Him?
He’s waiting for you.
I hope you enjoyed today’s devotional. This is a heavy one. If you want to talk, reach out to me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org or just hit reply. Also, you can call my personal cell: 317-965-5310. I’m here for you.
Grace and Peace,