Summary: When Jesus was crucified, some turned away and some ran away from Him. But there was at least one man didn't do that and his life changed forever. Do you know who that man was?
OPEN: (We opened the sermon with a video by the group “CityALight” and their song “Jerusalem” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX4ZCHRksBA [fade at time stamp 1:51]).
I shared that video this morning, not only because I really like that song, but also because it dovetails with something I wanted to talk about this morning. One of the oddest things about the Easter story is how quickly the crowds turned against Jesus. As the opening verses of that song we just heard says:
“See him in Jerusalem walking where the crowds are
Once, these streets had sung to him, now they cry for murder
See Him there upon the hill, hear the scorn and laughter
Silent as a lamb He waits, praying to the Father.”
The crowd cried for the murder of Jesus.
They mocked and scorned him and laughed at Him.
But just days before this, Jesus had entered the city of Jerusalem in triumph, and this same “crowd … took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna!"
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Blessed is the King of Israel!" John 12:12-13
They sang His praises on that Sunday
They cried out Hosanna and blessed is the King of Israel.
But that was Sunday.
On Friday (just 5 days later) they cry out: “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”
They sang His praises … but NOW they cried for His death.
It had been less than a week.
What could possibly have changed in that short a time?
Well, what had changed was their perception of who He was.
What they saw on Sunday was not the same man they saw on Friday.
On Palm Sunday Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem in triumph.
They’d seen and heard of Jesus before.
Jesus had done doing miracles.
He healed the sick.
He raised the dead.
He’d walked on water.
He’d fed 1000s with just a small amount of food.
And now He’d come in triumphal procession into their city… and so they cried out “Blessed is the KING of Israel!”
They had seen Jesus as the answer to all their problems.
Here was the long awaited King.
A man of power.
A man of majesty.
A great leader who could throw off the hated shackles of Rome and make them the great nation they always knew they could and should be.
But that was THEN.
This is NOW.
Just 5 days later He stands before them a broken man.
Once He seemed invincible.
Now He’s under arrest - beaten, bloody and rejected.
Now He was just a pathetic loser.
It didn’t take much for the Jews to be swayed by “the chief priests and the elders (who) persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.” Matthew 27:20
That was why they were persuaded to cry for His death.
But they had an excuse.
They didn’t have all the information.
They didn’t know what the last chapter of the story was supposed to be.
And it was what they didn’t know that led to their asking for Jesus’ death.
You could understand why they might turn away from Jesus.
But it’s harder to comprehend how His disciples could run away from Him.
These men had been with Jesus for over 3 years.
They’d followed Him.
Listened to Him.
Ate with Him.
In fact, Jesus had made such a powerful impact on them, that (after the resurrection) the rulinig body of the Jews – the Sanhedrin - “saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13
Being with Jesus had had a powerful effect on these men.
And yet - when Jesus was crucified… they ran away.
And what’s astonishing is that you’d think they’d KNOW better.
The Gospel of Matthew tells us of the time Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was, Peter responded: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
Then, Matthew’s Gospel goes on to tell us:
“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Matthew 16:21
In the Gospel of Luke we’re told that Jesus told His disciples:
“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Luke 9:22
In Mark Jesus declared: "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise." Mark 9:31