The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.
They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!” (John 12:12-13)
Relate: The shouts of the people as Jesus was coming in to Jerusalem were not just random shouts of exultation. They were a direct quote straight out of Psalm 118. I linked that because I would strongly suggest reading it to understand the mood and the attitude of the crowd as Jesus was entering into Jerusalem on this first day of the Passover celebration. I’m going to briefly break it down here:
vs 1-7 – God is with me even through difficult times
vs 8-14 He has given me victory over my enemies
vs 15-21 I will live and enter the victory He has won for me
vs 22-24 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.
vs 25-26 This is the portion quoted: Hosanna literally means, “Lord save us!” We use it today as an exclamation of praise but for Israel in Jesus time it was a cry of confident desperation. They were in need of liberation but they were certain that liberation had come. Rome was that enemy who “has surrounded me on every side”, but “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
The crowd was absolutely correct in recognizing that Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem was a profoundly prophetic moment. All of history looked forward to the events that would play out over the next few days and this moment in time had been prophesied and looked forward to by generations of Jews. The time had come. The crowd was right in recognizing this moment but they were wrong, dead wrong, in exactly what it meant.
React: I’ve read and heard time and again preachers and scholars who have ridiculed the fickleness of this crowd who, five days later would be clamoring for Jesus death. I admit that I myself have done the same. It is easy to ridicule this crowd, but in reality, from their perspective it was Jesus who let them down. They were crying out, “Lord save us!” It was a cry of hope, and desperation, but also of confidence. They were sure Jesus was the One. He was the Messiah. He would sweep the foreign oppressor out of Jerusalem and from this grand city He would rule the world… or not. Five days later their confidence had been shattered. Their hopes had been dashed. How dare this man prove Himself so impotent against the very enemy He was supposed to destroy. The crowd was absolutely correct in acclaiming Jesus as the Messiah. They simply had no idea what the Messiah really was about.
How do I react when I feel that God has let me down. I was so certain this is what He would do, this is how He would intervene, but then it does not happen. I was wrong. So I blame God. How could You let this happen to me? Where were You, God? Why? The questions fly upward but it feels as though no one is listening. He does not hear. I’ve been there. Haven’t you? Can I really blame a disappointed crowd for turning on Jesus when the temptation has been there for me to do the same? My situation had a lot less at stake. My situation was not nearly saturated with as many misunderstood promises as they had. But still I’ve fallen into the same trap. God forgive.
Jesus, You were about something so much greater than a military conquest or political victory. The crowd’s vision, their hope, was too small. I have been guilty of the same. I have been in that place where I was convinced that *this* is exactly how You should move or what You should do. But my vision was too small. And when You didn’t conform to my narrow minded view I turned on You just like the crowd. I grew angry. I got bitter. Forgive me. Help me to see, help me to understand that what You are doing is so much greater than what I can understand. As I look for temporary fixes You are about eternal solutions. Help me to learn to follow You even when I don’t understand where we are going.