Summary: Palm Sunday. Triumphal Entry
Matthew 27:15-26 (Trial before Pilate)
Two crowds. Two radically different outcomes. One crowd called out “Hosanna!” hoping for Jesus to be crowned King. The other cried, “Crucify him!” One crowd honored him, the other killed him. One crowd named him their Lord; the other named him an imposter and a blasphemer. These two crowds gathered around the same man, in the same city, for the same event, (the Jewish Passover). Ironically, these two events were just a few days apart.
One day Jesus was a hero, a few short days later he was given a criminals death. Both events were driven by the wishes of a crowd. I wonder, if you had been there, which crowd would you have been in? The first, the second…or both? I’m sure, knowing the nature of people and the power of “crowd mentality,” that some of the same people who triumphantly called out, “Hosanna!” were also there in the crowd lifting their voices in the murderous cry of, “Crucify him!”
I want to remind you, on this “Palm Sunday” as we remember Christ’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, that some people cheer for Jesus when it’s convenient and popular, but a true follower makes Jesus their Lord no matter what the crowd is doing.
In reality, although we are over 2000 years removed from Jerusalem and the two events we just read about, we are all in one of those two crowds here today. Either Jesus is your Lord and you’ve come here to praise and worship him for who he is, or you’re a part of the crowd who refuses to acknowledge him and you sit here this morning in opposition of the Son of God. You’re either for him or against him. There is no middle ground. Some of you come in here and cheer along with the rest of the crowd when you come to church but you go out into the world and turn your back on Jesus every day. It’s “Hosanna!” on Sunday and “Crucify him!” on Monday!
When are you going to get the backbone to live for Jesus no matter what? How long are you going to be a “crowd hopper?”
3 THINGS THAT CAN PULL YOU INTO A CROWD FOR OR AGAINST JESUS
I. POPULARITY. (FOR) Matthew 21:8 & 10 – “A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road…” “When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred…”
John 12:19 – “So the Pharisees said to one another, ‘See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!’”
(AGAINST) Matthew 27:20 & 22 – “But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.” “‘What shall I do then, with Jesus who is called Christ?’ Pilate asked. They all answered, ‘Crucify him!’”
Main theme/slogan: “Everyone’s doing it!”
The appeal for popularity is a dangerous thing. If enough people decide something is cool, it can be absolutely ignorant and everyone in the crowd just has to have it. If you don’t believe me, let me give you a few examples: lambchop sideburns, afros, go-go boots, hot pants, silk shirts with huge collars, polyester leisure suits, mood rings and 8-tracks of the “Bee-Gees.” Some of us look back at our high school yearbook pictures and want to throw up! We look ridiculous! Why did we become willing subjects to such bizarre sociological fashion behavior? Because it was popular to dress and look like that in the 70’s! You dress like that now and people look at you strange.
I’m so glad we’ve moved into the modern age of the 21st Century! Where the popular thing now is to shave your head and get your body covered with piercings and tattoos. (Silk shirts and bellbottom polyester pants were painful – but not that painful!) 20 years or so from now when this generation looks back at their pictures, they’re going to say the same thing, “Where was my brain the day I paid someone to do that to me?” (By the way, Jesus would have related well to this generation. “He was pierced for our transgressions…”) Why do we do this stuff? Because the popular crowd makes it cool.
Are you with me this morning? Are you getting this? Everybody repeat after me… “We are all individuals.” I hope you’re in the right crowd today because you all just did exactly what I told you to do! We’re all individuals with an eternal soul that will live forever and the final destination of our soul is completely linked to what we believe about this man Jesus who rode into Jerusalem on a little donkey 2000 years ago. I’m asking you today, which crowd are you in? What’s the popular opinion among the people you are hanging out with? Is he liar, lunatic, or Lord?