“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!’” – Matthew 21:9
The crowds of Jerusalem shouted the words as Jesus entered the city and began his last week on earth as a man. The people welcoming Jesus with so much enthusiasm went a step farther; some laid down their cloaks on the road before Jesus. I guess that was like rolling out the red carpet except Jesus rode on a donkey so I wonder how many would want to wear their cloaks again! Others cut palm branches and paved the way with the foliage.
After 33 years walking this earth, Jesus was finally welcomed like he should have been everywhere he went. Yet I wonder… how sincere was their praise? Where they truly worshipping Jesus as Lord and King? Or were they rejoicing because they thought this ‘king of the Jews’ was going to kick Rome out and bring power and prominence back to Israel?
If the story ended here, we would be left wondering. Since however we are given play-by-play action by the gospel writers we know much about Jesus’ last days and the sincerity of the crowds. Let’s fast-forward to the time after Jesus had been arrested and beaten.
“The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed… ‘What shall I do then, with Jesus who is called Christ?’ Pilate asked. They all answered, ‘Crucify him!’” Matthew 27: 20, 22
At the end of each proclamation in verse 9 above, we find an exclamation mark. At the end of verse 22, we see another exclamation mark behind their shout of ‘crucify him!’
The same crowd that praised Jesus with loud voices days before because they thought Jesus was going to benefit them now shouted for his death! O how clueless they truly were to miss the truth that Jesus’ death would indeed save them!
Time to bring it home…
I find it much easier and more comfortable to analyze the crowds of Jerusalem than to take an inventory of my actions. Yet to see the crowds as a part of history and not feel the call of accountability in my life would be to miss the point. So I ask the hard questions and try my best to answer…
- How sincere is my praise?
- Does my praise come from an overflowing heart or because I am at church where it is expected?
- Do I praise Jesus because I’m thinking about the ways he can benefit my life? Or would I praise him no matter the circumstances?
- Do I continue to stand and praise Jesus even when the crowds have turned against him? A relevant question given the direction some in our country are headed.
As I continue to read ‘The End of Me” by Kyle Idleman, I’m challenged by the teachings of Jesus and his upside-down, inside-out way of looking at things. I’m finding I have a bigger pride hang-up than I realized which in turns raises more questions for me…
One of my favorite times of praise is during Sunday worship service when I am gathered with a group of believers. As a member of the worship team, I find myself standing before our church. I don’t want my hand to rise except in sincere praise. I don’t want to be carried along by the crowds as those on Palm Sunday who went through the motions but lacked sincerity of heart. I don’t want to be a performer on a stage but a true worshiper!
Lord, I praise your name! May my praise be not because of what you can do for me or because of who is around me but for who you are! As I walk through the gospel accounts of this last week of Jesus’ life as a man, open my eyes. Teach me your truths and show me where I need to change to become more like my Jesus! Amen!