Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Crowd

I have heard some pastors and speakers remark in bewilderment that the same people who hailed Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday were prepared to crucify him one week later. They then tend to shrug off this seemingly-confusing event and attribute it to prophecy. But God tends to work through people rather than force them to do certain things.

In our last article we looked at Barabbas and Jesus, and just why any group of people would prefer a murderer to a miracle-worker. The passages can be found first in Mark 11:1-11. I will quote verses 9-10 here: “And they that went before [Jesus], and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.”

Contrast this scene of accepting the king of kings with the scene before Pilate in Matthew 27:15-25. “The governor [Pilate] answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas . . . . They all say unto him, Let him be crucified . . . . Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.” (vs. 21, 23b, 25)

How could the crowd have turned on Jesus so fast? The answer is quite similar to the answer in yesterday’s post. The crowd that made up the celebration in Mark 11 was assuredly different than the one in Matthew 27. First, nowhere does the biblical record state or even indicate the same group of people was involved. Second, while certain of Jesus’ followers (such as most of the disciples or even Peter) were scared and fled (or even denied him outright!), none of them would have openly called for his death; even Judas seemed surprised that Jesus was actually condemned (cf. Matt. 27:3-5). Finally, during Passover week there was a huge influx of out-of-town Jews, seeking to offer a sacrificial lamb at the Temple. There is no way of knowing exact numbers, but Jerusalem may have easily doubled its Jewish population. In that case not only would the makeup of the marketplace and “downtown” crowd be potentially completely different, but many of them may have heard little or none of Jesus of Nazareth at all. So when, on the week of Passover no less, they heard of a rebellious Jew claiming to be God and speaking blasphemies they would have not been hesitant to call for his death. Surely, they were doing God a service. Weren’t they?

Rescue (http://www.rescuemusic.org) has a great song from one of their first albums called “2000 Years Ago.” Part of the lyrics are as follows:
            And now when I look at that time
            I can scarcely imagine the degree of the crime.
            I’d like to think myself a disciple crying out loud
            But I know from my own life, I’d be in the crowd.

Easter is a time of reflection and celebration. This year, take extra care to be thankful for the sacrifice Christ made for you!
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