Summary: Why did the crowd turn on Jesus so quickly between Palm Sunday and Good Friday?
Something about the story of Jesus’ life during the days between Palm Sunday and Good Friday has always bothered me. How could this crowd of people who so passionately loved, respected, and praised Jesus on Sunday change their minds so quickly? In a mere five days, we will read how this same cheering, palm-waving crowd suddenly calls out for Jesus’ execution. It never seemed right to me. So while I was preparing this sermon, I Googled the question “Why did the crowd turn against Jesus so quickly?”
The search returned over 9 million results. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who wanted to know!
So why DID the crowd have such a quick change of heart?
To begin to answer that question, let’s talk about someone many people today worship and adore…
Justin Bieber has been at the top of the celebrity popularity charts for the last four or five years. You can’t turn on the television, log onto the Internet, or open a magazine without seeing his face. Talented, good looking, charming, chaste, seemingly down to earth for a famous kid. Little girls, their mothers, and their grandmothers cry when he sings. He has a haircut named after him! Justin Bieber can do no wrong!
…Or so we thought.
Over the last two or three months, the now 19-year old Justin has had a hard go of things. He was photographed smoking. He yelled obscenities at the paparazzi. He got in a social media war with Lindsay Lohan. He broke up with his long-time girlfriend. He’s been cancelling shows and showing up late, some say because he’s partying too hard.
Until around the end of last year, headlines about Justin Bieber were likely to say things like “Justin Bieber – Pop Music’s Golden Child” and “Justin – too cute for words!” and “Justin’s just getting started!”
But by February, the headlines had changed dramatically:
“Is Justin Bieber a Good Boy Gone Bad?”, “Justin Bieber blasts critics!” and, maybe most on point, this actual recent headline: “We were all Justin Bieber fans, and now we hate him!”
In the short span of 2 months, Justin Bieber’s press WORLD WIDE had changed from cheers to jeers. Many of the same people who praised him in December were mocking him by February.
Why did we turn on Justin so quickly?
Is it because Justin allegedly parties too hard? Probably not – Rock stars have been doing that for years and we kind of expect it from them at this point. Don’t we all still love Elvis, Merle Haggard, and Keith Richards after all?
Is it because he fought with the paparazzi? I think we all have come to understand how celebrities are hounded by the tabloids. Frankly, I’m kind of impressed when someone stands up to them.
Well, maybe it’s because he said mean things about Lindsay Lohan? Doubtful. Let’s be honest, who DOESN’T say mean things about Lindsay Lohan?
All kidding aside, we’re not really that upset about any of the specific things Justin Bieber did. Based on everything we’ve seen and read and know, can we say his behavior is all that different from that of most 19 year olds? Frankly, we shouldn’t even be SURPRISED by it.
The only reason this crowd has turned on Justin Bieber is because he’s not behaving like the clean-cut, nice young man we all want him to be. In short, we are very disappointed in Mr. Bieber because he’s not living up to the unrealistic expectations we set for him. He was our hero, and he disappointed us. And when our heroes disappoint us, it makes us angry.
On Palm Sunday, as he rode into town on a donkey, Jesus was that crowd’s hero. But, oh, how he would disappoint them.
The Jews had waited a long time for the Messiah and they had not had an easy time of it. Their most recent tribulation, the Roman Occupation, was no picnic. When they saw and heard of the miracles Jesus had performed, especially the recent raising of Lazarus, they saw the potential for him to be that guy. They looked at some of the prophesies about the Messiah, and they expected Jesus to free them from Roman oppression and lead them into a new age. They expected a conquering hero.
But there was no overthrow of the Roman regime. There wasn’t even a good sword fight. There was just Jesus, humbly submitting to his arrest and subsequent torture. And in the short span of five days, Jesus’ press went from cheers to jeers too.
But, based on everything they’d seen and read and knew, that crowd shouldn’t have been surprised either.
See, these people waving palms and praising Jesus had conveniently ignored prophesies that talked about Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection. They didn’t listen to Jesus’ own words about his true nature. Not even his closest friends understood until about 2 months later! Apparently, even the donkey wasn’t enough of a hint.