Summary: A historical look an the first Palm Sunday and how crowds, then and now, haven’t changed.
Why Did the Cheering Stop?
First Preached at Allen Park Baptist Church 3/20/2005
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you,gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 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!”
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
The streets of Jerusalem were buzzing and things would only get worse as the week went on. The city of Jerusalem whose population normally stood around 60,000 swelled as the Passover approached and this year would be no different. Rumors circulated that a young rabbi from Galilee would be there—the one who supposable raised a man named Lazarus from the dead. This Jesus drew crowds wherever He went. Unbelievable things were said about Him—that He had fed 5000 men with 5 small loves of bread and two fish, that He could make the blind see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk. He was not only a healer but also a man who could command demons to come out of people and who claimed to have the authority to forgive sins. His teaching and ways were revolutionary to say the least—so much so that an unlikely alliance of the Scribes and Pharisees and even of Jew and Roman would be forged to rid the world of this young troublemaker.
While the establishment and the powers to be saw Jesus as a real threat, the crowds saw Him differently. Some perceived that a real live prophet of God was in their midst. They marveled that a compassionate man who did the miraculous things He did was not a man after personal gain. Here was a simple man who identified with them. He was not ignorant of their pain and suffering that disease, poverty, and oppression brought. He was a paradox to them as He spoke of God yet was a friend of the destitute, downcast, and the delinquent—so very different from the religious leaders who only engaged the masses to strut like peacocks before them to show their righteous standing with God. How very different was He from them.
Others saw Jesus as a potential deliverer. He had healed others of their infirmities and diseases—of this there was no doubt, but they wanted something grander than a person who worked on such a limited scale. If He could deliver one blind man, and ten lepers, and five-thousand hungry men from what afflicted them, why not deliver a whole nation from all its ills and troubles?
Others saw Him as a fake, a charlatan, a person who worked slight of hand magic before the ignorant and untrained—one who would eventually use the masses to achieve His own personal ambition and goals. Yes, He was subtle and no, He hadn’t given anyone proof of His sinister intentions yet. Jesus was a sly one they thought. But they knew it would only be a matter of time before Jesus would tip His hand, and then His pseudo-religious, caring, self-effacing act would be seen for what it really was—a ploy for ambition and power.
There were some who just didn’t know enough about Him to make any judgment. Sure, they had heard the stories and all, but it was so far fetched and unbelievable to be true they thought. It wasn’t that these people were necessarily cynical by nature like those who felt it was all a sham, but they just didn’t know because they had not been personally touched by Him. They didn’t question that He has made an impact on the lives of others—it was just that He hadn’t made any impact on their life. Maybe what they said about Him was true and maybe it wasn’t. Only time and personal experience would tell they thought.