I confess it. I don’t always relate to those high, mighty, super successful religious people who are always looking down their noses at everybody else, especially at people who have problems, but I always relate to Jesus. See, Jesus is DIFFERENT. He isn’t like the goody two shoes country club types, he’s just ordinary and regular and he’s also my Savior. Think about how He was on the first Palm Sunday. He had been staying over at Lazarus’ house in Bethany, about half hour’s walk from Jerusalem. He sent His disciples ahead to a nearby town to get a donkey for Him to ride into Jerusalem on. What was so special about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey? It was sort of the equivalent of the President riding into Washington D.C. in a borrowed Chevette. Can you imagine a President for that matter, borrowing a Chevette to ride in the biggest procession of his career? Of course not. But that’s how Jesus is. Jesus rode in on a borrowed donkey because He’s the King of the everyday, working person; the common person. He even started out His life that way, his very first bed was a borrowed donkey’s trough and, all through with the common person and that’s who He came to save.
On this particular day, there were already more than a million people from all over the world who had come to Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover. They had heard of Jesus, because He had just recently raised Lazarus from the dead, he’d been healing the sick, feeding the multitudes. So, when they saw Jesus, they ran to get their palm branches and began to shout “Hosanna…while tossing the branches on the dusty road in front of Him. “Hosanna! Hosanna!” they cried out. “Hosanna.” The palm branch was a sign of peace in Jesus’ day and when a military leader would conquer a town, he would ride through the streets surrounded by palm branches. So, the thousands of people were thinking that Jesus was going to overthrow the Roman government and bring them peace and that’s why they were throwing palm branches in front of Him. While the people were shouting to Jesus, the Pharisees ran up to Jesus and said, “Tell your followers to stop shouting to you like this!” They didn’t want people to think that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus turned around and told the Pharisees that if people wouldn’t cry out, the very stones in the road would shout His praises.
As Jesus was riding that donkey, He looked up and saw the beautiful city of Jerusalem…a city that He knew would be totally destroyed within 40 years of His death. He knew that some of the people who were cheering for Him that day would be in another crowd by the next week, shouting for Jesus to be crucified. Cheering for Jesus one week and crucifying Him the next and He wept for them. Notice that? He didn’t reject them, He wasn’t angry with them, He felt sorry for them. Sorry because they were so blind that they didn’t realize the suffering they were bringing on themselves through their blindness and lack of spiritual understanding. The kind of blindness and lack of spiritual understanding that would lead them to kill Him…and then it would destroy them. They were foolishly blind and that made them fickle. They would be able to go from loving Him to hating him in just one week. While Jesus was still weeping for the people, the crowds grew larger and they were waving their palm branches and others were still casting them down on the dusty road in front of Him. In just moments, the dusty road went from brown to green and just like a life does when Jesus comes into it. From dry and dirty to soft and green and alive.
Jesus could’ve taken over Jerusalem that day…if He was just wanting to give people a better life on earth. It would have been easy for him. There were so many people there, easily two or three million, plus, He was at the height of his fame. They were all talking about his healings, feeding the multitudes and raising the dead, most recently Lazarus. They were so excited that day that they literally couldn’t contain themselves. Jesus didn’t live up to their expectations and He didn’t take over the city. He didn’t break off the yoke of the Roman oppressor. They were absolutely elated that He had come and they were hoping that He’d make life on earth better for them. Yet, He knew that in just a few years, many of them would be destroyed, along with their children. He was preparing them, not for just more ease and comfort on earth, but to be able to live forever in Paradise for eternity. They wanted Jesus to change their outward circumstances and He came to change their inner hearts.
That’s how they got into the situation where they turned their backs on Him. See, these weren’t people without problems. They were regular working people, people like you and me. Like you and me, they had been led to by religious leaders and now, as a result, they could love Jesus one week and turn on Him the next. They had been manipulated by the Pharisees for so long, that when they expected, they immediately thought they were going to be manipulated again so they turned on Him. A factor for another group of people was like what happened with Judas. It’s just that, once Judas had been around Jesus for two or three years, he realized that Jesus wasn’t offering what he was looking for. Jesus was crushing the ego of Judas, when Judas wanted to be built up, and told that he was basically an OK guy who didn’t need to change. So, when Jesus started cutting Judas’ pride a little bit, and touching some areas of Judas’s heart that had been buried for so many years, Judas couldn’t (actually wouldn’t) take it. So, rather than confront the problems on the inside, Judas decided to ‘shop around’ for another “messiah”. One that wouldn’t “hurt” him so much.
You can always tell a real teacher sent from God this way: A teacher sent from MAN will nurture your ego and do everything possible to keep you from confronting the ugliness in your own heart. When Jesus come along, He get to you and pushes, prods and brings out things in you that you didn’t want to discover were still there. He brings them to the surface so He can deal with them and set you free to be the person that God created you to become. Others were just disappointed and they had maybe experienced one of Jesus’ miracles. Some had been miraculously fed from the loaves of fishes and others had been blind, but through a touch from Jesus had received their sight. A few of them had been lame, but now could walk. Others, had been delivered from leprosy; Jesus had cast it off of them like an old coat and even after all this, they were still just common everyday people and because of their weakness and ordinariness, they just couldn’t believe that Jesus would build a kingdom with the likes of them.
Now, they all still had things that they all struggled with which would sometimes lead them to disappointment. So, in their disappointment with themselves, they turned their backs on Jesus and they were so disappointed that they didn’t think Jesus would want them anymore. Jesus died for them, for Judas and Judas wasn’t the only traitor Jesus died for. He also died for the people who were hurt and disappointed by some of the things Jesus said and things that he demanded. Jesus died for all those common and weak people who felt they were too crummy to be a part of His Kingdom.
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