From cheering to jeering…

As we head into the Palm Sunday weekend, perhaps you, like me have always wondered how the people can go from cheering for Jesus one minute to jeering at him the next.

The answer, as Dr. Doug Bookman explained, is actually in a four-fold process. (1) Jesus claims to be the King. (2) The people receive Him as King. (3) Jesus tests their commitment. (4) The people reject Him.

Jesus claims to be King.

Jesus usually claimed his kingship through Old Testament prophecy (Luke 4:16-21).

This allowed him to get the attention of the Jewish society, and avoid the attention of Rome. The Jews would have seen their Law as from God and honored it as such. The Romans could have cared less. They would have only recognized a King that came with a raised sword and large army to back him up. Jesus came with neither.

When Jesus read the Isaiah prophecy in his home town of Nazareth, he put the scroll down and claimed, “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Every Jew within hearing distance would have understood him to be staking his claim as Messiah.

The people receive him as King, though superficially.

The response to Jesus’ claims is usually awe and wonder. Quite frankly, they were appreciative of his healing power, and they loved the free meals. The hope that their King would overthrow Caesar one day also served as a motivator. So the text in Luke says, “All spoke well of him, and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth” (Luke 4:22).

Jesus tests their commitment.

Jesus does not seek the approval of man, so he is unaffected by their superficial reception. It is as if he says, “If you want to claim me as King, will you follow me?” He places this proposition before them by pointing out how God had worked with Gentiles in the Old Testament times, not just Jews. This would have been offensive to those in Nazareth, and their response shows that they weren’t interested in following this King.

But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow [not a Jew] And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian” [not a Jew].  When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath (Luke 4:25-28)

One small test: Will you follow me even if I pursue the saving of the Gentiles? Immediately they reject him.

The people reject him.

Through the Gospel record; whenever Jesus presses the issue of following, submitting, and serving him as King, the people rebel.

Not much has changed in 2000 years. Most people are willing to receive Jesus superficially (when there’s something in it for them), but when challenged to follow him sacrificially many struggle and fall away.

That is how you go from cheering for Jesus as he rides a donkey into town; to jeering at him he carries a cross out of town–in six short days.

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