“Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!”
Palm Sunday. The crowds cry out to the one who saves. Their souls, their hearts, beckon to Him. This crowd, so full of hope, embraces this man of miracles with such love, such praise. It makes me wonder then, how can this same crowd – in just a few days time – lash out in hate, and display such a distaste for this same man, shouting:
“Crucify him! Crucify him!”
We know that Jesus spent much of the beginning of the week giving his final teachings in the temple of Jerusalem. He rebuked the challenges of the high priests and teachers of the law. As they questioned Him, Jesus replied with answers so wise they could not find any fault. The crowds were delighted with His presence. After all, this was the man who had brought Lazarus back from the dead. He was a miracle worker. And while they delighted in His teachings, I’m sure they wanted to see something more – someone more. Someone who was not just a smooth talker – they wanted to see a miracle with their own eyes.
Today is the Wednesday of Holy Week. Some biblical scholars call this Silent Wednesday as there was no recorded action specific for this day in the bible. I wonder if Jesus had one more day of teaching (Luke 21:37). I wonder if Jesus had gone into hiding this day (John 12:36) I wonder if it was because of this physical absence from the people, that a little seed of doubt began to root in their souls. I wonder if the words of Jesus were not enough for them to believe and have faith. I wonder if they were waiting for a miracle.
In the beginning of my walk with Jesus, I admit that when things didn’t go my way, or prayers seem to be unanswered, I began to wonder about this “plan” of God. I began to wonder about this Jesus and all the things He was said to do. He is a miracle maker! He can heal the sick! Why then, didn’t He heal the people I love? Why am I not witness to a miracle. Perhaps this is all a deception.
Perhaps these same thoughts were in the minds of the people, for in my own studies, apart from the cursing of the fig tree (which was not in front of the crowds), Jesus had not performed any miracles for them to bear witness to. And I have a strong feeling that it is because many of these people knew OF Jesus, but they didn’t really know Him – have a relationship with Him – many did not have true faith in him.
Then, as the Passover Feast arrived the next day, the bible tells us “As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.” (John 13:27) Did Satan also grab a foothold in the hearts of the people? Did he whisper lies of fear and doubt, which were already in the hearts of the pharisees and high priests? Because the people were of this world, they could not understand – not yet.
…many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.
(John 12:42-43, emphasis mine)
The disciples also fled out of fear, and watched from a distance when Jesus was arrested. Peter denied knowing Jesus three times when questioned by the servants of the high priests. Not one of them helped Jesus carry the cross. Instead, a stranger – a random traveler – named Simon from Cyrene, was made to carry the cross behind Him. On His walk, Jesus addressed the women who followed him, wailing and mourning, on the path to crucifixion, but not his disciples.
“But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.” (Luke 23:49)
Even the man who buried Jesus in the tomb, Joseph, did not reveal that he, too, was a disciple because he feared the Jews.
Fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the repercussions. Fear of the people. Fear of the world.
Satan breathed fear into the world on this first of thousands of Holy Weeks. He began in the hearts of the high priests and teachers of the law. He worked his way into the hearts of the people of Jerusalem. He entered the soul of the one who would betray Him. And the fear crept into the hearts of even Jesus’ own closest friends. And this fear from thousands of years ago still lingers.
But even in the darkest of days, in the darkest of hours, as our Lord hung crucified on that cross….
Oh, what a miracle was brewing….
Oh, what a movement was stirring….
Oh, just when Satan thought he had won….
All the while, Jesus knew. And He was patient. He IS patient. He waits for those with fear still in their heart. Fear of the unknown. Fear of rejection. Fear of disappointment. Fear of the people. Fear of the world. Jesus knew. And yet He still loved us. He still saved us.
He knew we would turn. He knows we will turn. But just as the crowds – the people – turned against Him, the crowds – the people – can turn to Him once more. Instead of believing the lies of doubt and fear, let us open up our hearts to the miracle of His Love. Let us not be of this world, but of His.
The disciples, filled with the Spirit, turned away from their fear and brought the people back to Jesus. And we too, are filled with the Spirit. Let us turn away from our fears and turn the hearts of the people away from this world and back to God.
Let me close with Jesus’ personal prayer for us. All of us. For we are His. And we are loved.
20 …I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (John 17:20-26)