Summary: Palm Sunday Sermon, but applicable to other times of year!
A Tale of Two Crowds
Matthew 21:6-11, 27:15-26
March 24, 2002
Have you ever seen a mob on TV or movies? They are dangerous, and can become murderous in an instant.
People in mobs are like cattle before a stampede. Ever see that? In the movie Red River, John Wayne and his men are moving cattle along the Chisolm trail, and the cattle are spooked by howling coyotes and such.
Then one of the men, trying to get some sugar, knocks down all the pans off the chuckwagon, and the cattle stampede, killing one of the wranglers watching over them.
Just before they stampeded, the cattle were tense, and the men knew it wouldn’t take much to set them off.
Mobs are like that.
They’re tense, waiting for the slightest provocation to begin destroying whatever and whoever they want.
Mobs are not a good thing, in general.
A crowd might be defined as a “pre-mob” bunch. They may never turn into a mob, but they can be fickle, wondering around like a bunch of sheep, looking for direction.
Today we are going to look at two crowds that formed around Jesus during His last week on earth.
I want to point out the differences between them, and then show you some lessons we can learn from these people.
I want to give you something you can use as you go through life, and as you make decisions about which way to go – following crowd, or standing alone.
Let’s get started, shall we? First I want to look at the crowd…
I. At the Gate.
Turn with me to Matthew 21:6-11. If you’re using the Bibles in the seat, you can turn to page 697, and you will find the beginning of our passage for this section.
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
"Hosanna to the Son of David!"
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Hosanna in the highest!"
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?"
11 The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."
You’ve probably seen movies of the life of Jesus, showing this scene.
The huge crowd is pressing in to see and touch Jesus, praising God for this carpenter who performs miracles and silences the religious leaders.
The crowd was raucous, excited, and happy to see Jesus. In this scene…
*They were hailing Him.
They liked this guy, and my guess is that more than one person was hoping that Jesus would be the one who finally pushed the Romans out of Israel.
They didn’t understand that Christ was coming to establish His kingdom in the hearts of people, not establish a political kingdom.
But that didn’t matter. They saw Jesus and welcomed Him into the city with loud rejoicing.
If opinion polls had been taken back then, I’m sure Jesus’ approval rating would have been in the upper 90’s, percentage-wise, a number most politicians would kill for.
His entrance into Jerusalem marked the beginning of the last week of His life on earth, though no one in the crowd knew that. Given His popularity at that moment, any move to take Him would have met with bloody riots.
The Bible tells us that is precisely why the authorities did not arrest Him.
Anyway, my point here is that this crowd was marked by its overwhelming approval of Jesus.
But within the span of just a very few days, the attitude changed dramatically.
The Bible goes into quite a bit of detail about Jesus’ last days. It tells us that:
He cleared the temple,
Cursed a fig tree,
Told some more parables, two of which really torqued off the Pharisees and religious leaders,
Spoke about paying taxes to Caesar and silenced the Sadducees regarding the resurrection,
Gave the greatest commandment to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves,
Pronounced seven woes, mainly pointed at the Pharisees,
Gave signs about the end of the age,
Spoke about the sheep and the goats,
And celebrated the Passover with His disciples.
Now remember, the Pharisees and scribes already didn’t like Jesus, and now Jesus had taken deadly aim at them and their dead religion of works.
It is no surprise that they now took deliberate action to have Him killed.
And Judas came on the scene to help them do it.