Tuesday, March 26

Unexpected Jesus

We live in an age where public opinion changes quicker than the weather. The person in public favor one day is a villain the next. So the amazing change of opinion from the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday to the demand for crucifixion just a few days later isn't so shocking to us. We can easily see ourselves in the crowd along the road leading into Jerusalem, waving palm branches and crying "Hosanna!" 

But where would we have been when the crowd gathered
later in the week? Where would you have been early in the morning that fateful Friday nearly two thousand years ago? Would you have been in the midst of the Jerusalem crowds shouting, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"? Would you have been running from person to person saying, "No, he's innocent!"? Would you have been in an upper room hiding out and hoping for the best?

Read: Matthew 21:1-11; 27:15, 18, 20-23
21:1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, "Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will send them at once." 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 "Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'" 

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, "Who is this?" 11 And the crowds said, "This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee."

27:15 Now it was the governor's custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd...17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?"

20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 21 "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor. "Barabbas," they answered. 22 "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?" Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify him!"

23 "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!"

We've all heard this story many times. It becomes so familiar that there is a danger we miss the message. Why did the people turn on Jesus? What happened between Palm Sunday and Good Friday? Or perhaps the better question is, what didn't happen?

Jesus didn't ride in on a white stallion and overthrow the Romans. 
Jesus didn't feed the multitudes again.
Jesus didn't bring the deliverance the people thought they needed.
Jesus didn't live up to people's expectations.
Jesus didn't do what people wanted.

No, Jesus wasn't what people wanted or expected. He was what they needed. But they missed that. They wanted just enough Jesus to bless what they were doing; just enough Jesus to get them out of their struggles and difficulties; just enough Jesus to make them happy and comfortable...but not so much that they would have to change.

But Jesus didn't come on their terms, he came on the Father's. He came to go to the cross and to die that those who will believe might be transformed and experience the full, abundant, purposeful life that is truly life. 

The people of the first century were confused and disappointed by Jesus. He wasn't the Messiah they wanted or expected. And so, at the urging of the religious leaders, their "hosannas" turned to "crucify him".

Jesus had not hidden his true agenda or who he really was. As he tells John the Baptist's followers, his actions show who he truly is. And Jesus told his followers on more than one occasion the cross was before him. However, we often see, and hear, what we want to see and hear. 

Take a moment to sit quietly before Jesus. Where has he disappointed you or not met your expectations of who he would be? Don't be afraid to be honest with him about hurts or anger or disappointments you've experienced. You might want to list them out on a piece of paper. Take time to express how you feel about each one.  Jesus isn't intimidated or afraid of our doubts and our questions. He understands our disappointments and unmet expectations. And he wants to meet us there. 

Pause for a moment to consider what Jesus might say to you about each one. What could he have said to the crowd on Good Friday? What might he say to you?

How have the disappointments and unmet expectations you've had with Jesus affected your relationship with him? Are there any ways your "hosannas" have become "crucify hims"? It might not be in all-out rebellion but in more subtle ways...hedging your bets, not fully trusting, waiting for "the other shoe to drop", etc. 

If you find there are ways you've held back and not responded to Jesus in complete faith, confess that and recommit yourself to trusting Him. Sit with Jesus in your place of disappointment and unmet expectations and choose to praise him with your "hosanna" despite your circumstances.

Do you have a story about how Jesus met you in a place of disappointment or unmet expectations? Share it in the comment section so we can be encouraged!

1 comment:

  1. After a year of dating, my fiance' cancelled our wedding just 3 weeks before the ceremony. It had been over 5 years since my husband went to heaven and I was so looking forward to being a "we"again. My disappointment was devastating. When the day of our wedding date arrived, the Holy Spirit gave me this idea: I put on my beautiful wedding dress, went to a favorite outdoor place where Jesus and I meet. I read the Song of Solomon to Him and I renewed my vows with Jesus. He met me there; he became the number one Lover in my life again. Now , instead of a sad date to remember, I have a very special memory, and photograph, of a lovely morning of being with my Eternal Lover of my Soul. Praise God he is able to deliver us from our disappointments!