Our Varied Responses to Jesus Christ
During the Triumphal Entry of Jesus, on the Monday before Passover in A.D. 33 (estimated year), as He entered Jerusalem with His disciples, the entire Jewish population within the city was in an excited state, ready to welcome Him as their long-awaited King. The gospels talk about a “very large crowd” gathering alongside the road shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David! He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Matthew 21:10 says “When He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken, saying “Who is this?” and the crowds kept saying “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee!” They had been hearing of His ministry of miracles and healing, as well as His ability to teach with authority like no one had ever heard before.
By early Friday morning the same Jewish crowds in Jerusalem were shouting “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” The emotional displays of the people, fueled by the corrupt Jewish religious leaders, were at a fever pitch and nothing was going to satisfy their anger and hatred unless Jesus was crucified – a brutal, public death for all to witness. His crucifixion took place starting at 9am that day because the Roman governmental leaders agreed to appease their Jewish subjects so as not have a major rioting incident on their hands.
Jesus died by 3pm that afternoon. Throughout that six-hour span the mood and attitude toward Jesus shifted dramatically – again! Once the crucifixion was complete, the scriptural accounts say “All the crowds that had gathered for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, went home, striking their chests” (which was a sign of mourning and despair). Isn’t this what they wanted…for Jesus to be crucified?
The Roman soldiers who had relentlessly mocked and beaten Jesus for hours that day, and who had nailed Him to the cross and stood guard as He suffered, also had a dramatic shift in their response to Jesus. When He had died, they are quoted as saying things like “This man really was God’s Son!” and “Truly, this was a righteous man!” and were terrified because of how they had treated Him.
So, what happened? Why all the whiplash of emotional response to Jesus? The gospel accounts of this climax in History are incredibly fascinating and are so full of detail that a short article in the newspaper cannot possibly do justice to answering those questions. Amazing, miraculous things happened surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus (including His resurrection), and how He endured the brutality, humiliation, and injustice of the cross revealed His godly characteristics of love, compassion, and forgiveness like nothing else could. But these questions requiring a response to who Jesus is are of ultimate importance to each one of us. What is your journey of response to Jesus? To the work of the cross? Whatever it is, it stems from your understanding of who He is, what He did, and what your need is.
It was in this Passover week 33 A.D. that Christianity was born... from these very same people who started out jazzed about a Jesus they completely misunderstood, then were persuaded to have a view of Jesus that completely enraged them because of perceived “Blasphemy”, to realizing that His claims of being the Son of God were true and that they had scorned, mocked, and crucified the promised Messiah….from the very same Roman soldiers who had pulled out all the stops to make a complete mockery of the tortuous death they were carrying out on an innocent man…and from some of the Jewish elite leadership who had been on the corrupt councils that had condemned Jesus to an unjust death sentence but had a work taking place in their heart that called them to Truth, and to seeking Jesus as their promised Savior.
Some people consciously reject Jesus as Lord and Savior. Some people consciously accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Some fall into a confused category because they get a distorted or an inaccurate view of Him. They may think they are “Christians” because they have some association with a church, or maybe they have an understanding of Jesus that doesn’t fully grasp who He is and what His work on the cross actually means. It’s important to get one’s view of Jesus right. A true and complete understanding and acceptance of Jesus and the cross leads to a place of surrender of one’s heart to Him, which results in worshiping God from a place of complete gratitude and adoration. If you’re not there, I’d venture to guess you haven’t really looked closely at Him…or at your need for a Savior.
Many choose to not educate themselves about who Jesus is and go through life dismissing Him. Others, like the crowds who greeted Jesus when He arrived in Jerusalem, have an inaccurate expectation of who He is going to be for them. The Jews expected a king of this world, not a spiritual, eternal king. What they thought they needed would be someone who would fix their problems here on earth…not a Savior who sacrificed Himself on a despised cross for their “sins” (which is not what they saw as their primary problem in life).
Christian theology (the study of God) deepens my faith and my relationship with God. The more I learn about Him, the more I am able to love and worship Him. If you have no faith, little faith, wavering faith, or a growing faith, I encourage you to spend time seeking Him through understanding more about Him, and especially about the work of the cross of Christ, which is God revealing Himself through this most pivotal place in History that has implications for our lives even today. May we “get Jesus right”. May we know this Savior accurately and deeply and seek to become more and more like Him. Happy, blessed Easter to you all.