Summary: This message asks; Who would you have been on that first Easter?
Now they call it the via da la Rosa, the way of sorrows, then it was just another street. And as Christ made his way up the crudely paved streets to Golgotha the crowd pushed and shoved to get a glimpse of the one who was called king of the Jews. The way was packed as Jews from all over the world descended on Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. And this was an added bonus a crucifixion to boot. And so Jesus the son of Joseph, the carpenter from Galilee trudged through the streets of Jerusalem carrying on his back the very cross upon which he would die. But who was responsible, who was to blame, who would bear the guilt of the blood of the son of God. Judas Iscariot, the high priest, the scribes and Pharisees, the Romans, Pontius Pilate? Who was to blame? Mark 15:15 So Pilate, anxious to please the crowd, released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to crucify him.
It was the crowd. The crowd, that wild demented creature, with a multitude of heads and no brains, countless hearts and no compassion. No doubt many of the same people who less then a week before had waved palm branches and cried hosanna to the son of David, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, hosanna to the highest. And then, five short days later, just a scant 120 hours and the crowd’s voice changed from a melodious hosanna in the highest to a venomous crucify him. The crowd. How could the religious leaders of the day stir these people into a murderous frenzy. No longer were they shopkeepers and butchers, shepherds and tailors but now they had become a blood crazed mob. Why, why? How could it have happened. When the Dutch master Rembrandt painted the crucifixion scene he painted his own face into the crowd that thronged about the foot of the cross to remind himself that it was for his sins that Christ died that agonising death on the cross. Think about it. On that Friday afternoon so many years ago what would you have been doing? Where would you have been? Would you have been just another face in the crowd? That great old spiritual asks the question “Were you there when they crucified my Lord? O sometimes it causes me to tremble, were you there when they crucified my Lord? 2) were you there when they nailed him to a tree? 3) were you there when they laid him in a tomb? 4) were you there when he rose up from the dead?” Where would you have been on that fateful day that they crucified that young Nazarene carpenter Jesus bar Joseph? Would you have been part of the mob? Matthew 27:39-40 And the people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “So! You can destroy the Temple and build it again in three days, can you? Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
There was no doubt about it; the mob was openly hostile to Christ and his claim to be the son of God. They would have been more than happy for Jesus to go around healing the sick and feeding the hungry but when he claimed to be the son of God, and challenged the morality they were outraged.
The crowd that was there that day represents the world. You see the vast majority of the unredeemed are quite happy to have the church in the world, if it stays in it’s place. They don’t mind us playing church, and feeding the poor and helping the outcast but let us step out of line and condemn the world for it’s ungodly actions and see how quick they are to turn hostile. It’s true, the world wants the church as a contented lap dog, but let it show it’s teeth and see how long before it’s on a chain in the back yard or worse.
And the big problem is today that a lot of our churches have gotten so they enjoy the role of lap dog, and you can be sure they’re not going to bite the hand that feeds them and strokes them. It isn’t long after we take a stand against abortion or pornography or homosexuality or booze and they claim that we are shoving our morality down their throats. Well bully for them, somebody ought to be shoving some morality down their throats, if the only way they are going to get it is to be force fed. It worries me that we are so popular, that we are seen as harmless and inoffensive. And if that is the case then we aren’t reflecting the true character of Christ because he could turn a community into a lynch mob.