Summary: The Pharisses called those lining the streets on Palm Sunday Jesus’s followers, but were they?
It was a party, everyone was there, it was a celebration, the video clip you just watched was from Jesus Christ Super Star 2001 and I love the Palm Sunday scene, it captures the excitement and joy of that day. There was a sense of anticipation and expectancy in the air, people knew that something was happening and they wanted to be a part of it. As Jesus rode into town the crowd went wild cheering him on and laying a carpet of their coats before him. He was the one that the prophets had spoken of and now he was riding into their town. Karen read the story earlier in the service, how the people welcomed Jesus into their town, how they proclaimed his greatness and their loyalty. And yet it was all short lived. A week later instead of crying â€œHosannaâ€, the crowd was yelling â€œCrucify himâ€. Seven days after they yelled â€œBless the King who comes in the name of the Lord!â€ they hollered â€œWe have no king but Caesar.â€
So who were these people who were so fickle? Letâ€™s go back to the scripture Luke 19:39 But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, â€œTeacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!â€ The Pharisees were Jewish religious leaders and they saw Jesus as a threat to their own authority and they identified those who lined the streets that day as â€œFollowers of Jesus.â€ But were they? Were they really Christ Followers? Christ Follower is a term that I try to use instead of Christian because Christian today means very little, it means that youâ€™re not a Hindu, or a Buddhist, or a Muslim but it doesnâ€™t necessarily mean that you follow Christ, It simply means you donâ€™t follow anyone else. But were those who were cheering that day, were they followers of Christ? This morning I want to look at what it means to be a â€œChrist Followerâ€
The first thing you have to understand is that Being a Christ follower means you realize who Christ is. And I guess in the same breath we would have to say that you realize who Christ isnâ€™t.
Iâ€™m sure that day there were those in the crowd who were simply caught in what was happening, perhaps if you had of been eavesdropping you might have heard someone yelling hosanna, hosanna and then turning to the person next to them and asking, â€œWhatâ€™s going on?â€ and the other person would have said â€œWeâ€™re welcoming Jesus to town.â€ And the first person would â€œCool, whoâ€™s Jesus?â€
Or perhaps they only knew of Jesus through the press releases, you know. â€œCarpenter heals leperâ€ Or â€œMan from Galilee feeds 5000.â€ They knew the surface things about this Jesus but they really didnâ€™t know him.
There are people out there today who know of Jesus but they donâ€™t necessarily know Jesus. You understand the difference right? You can know of someone without really knowing them. I was in a home in Bedford last year that had a portrait of the Queen in the hallway and I noticed other royal paraphernalia scattered around the home, collector plates and books, you know what I mean. It was fairly obvious that at least one member of that household did not share my view of the Monarchy. They were probably quite familiar with Liz and Phil, knew all there was to know about Chuck, Anne, Andy and Ed. But I wonder if they actually knew them or if they only knew of them?
Itâ€™s easy to know about people today, all you have to do is Google their name, thereâ€™s a verb I bet you didnâ€™t use ten years ago. If you were to Google Denn Guptill you could find our where and when I graduated, who my wife is, what the name of my children are and how many pets we have. You would discover which magazines I write for and what churches I have pastored over the last twenty five years, you would be able to read some of my sermons. In short you would be able to know a lot about me but you wouldnâ€™t really know who I am.
If you are going to be a Christ Follower then first you will need to know who it is you are following. Letâ€™s listen in to a conversation that Jesus had with his apostles 2000 years ago. Matthew 16:13-14 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, â€œWho do people say that the Son of Man is?â€ â€œWell,â€ they replied, â€œsome say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.â€ If I was to ask you â€œWho do people say Jesus is?â€ And you were able to tell me then you would know about him, you might not know the truth but you would know what people were saying. Some might say he was a great teacher, or a prophet, a good man, one local minister said that Jesus was not the Son of God but he was Spiritual Genius, whatever that means. But the litmus test came in the next verse when we read Matthew 16:15Then he asked them, â€œWho do you say I am?â€ and then Matthew 16:16 Simon Peter answered, â€œYou are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.â€ You see what happened, Simon Peter had gone from a head knowledge, this is what people are saying to a heart knowledge, this is who you are to me. He no longer simply knew about Jesus but he knew him.