Written by Devon Bowman

Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’ And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, ‘Who is this?’ And the crowds said, ‘This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.’”
–‭‭Matthew‬ ‭21‬:‭8‬-‭11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Before the crucifixion there was the triumphal entry. This is a big part of the paradox of the story of Jesus. When we look at the gospels from the cross backward it may surprise us to see how strongly Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem. When we know about His trial, sentencing, and death we may think that His entrance would have been one of derision not of praise. 

What we see here in Matthew 21 is that crowds welcome Jesus and praise Him. They honor him by not even allowing the donkey to put his hooves on the ground but instead step on their cloaks and branches. So what changed? Why did this crowd go from praise to desiring to kill him so quickly? Here are a few reasons that they turned away. 

Wrong Expectations 

We see throughout the scriptures where people had an idea of the messiah that was incorrect. Many of the examples of this are found in the disciples themselves. We see in Mark 10:35-40 the sons of Zebedee, James and John, asking Jesus to be next to him in his Kingdom. You can see that they are expecting a Kingdom that does not involve the cross. Another example is in the rebuke of Peter. When Jesus says that he must die, Peter denies this and does not accept the teaching. Jesus responds by rebuking him and even says he is being used by Satan. I believe the reason Peter denied Jesus’ teaching was because his expectations of the Kingdom of God were incorrect. 

Exposing Their Corruption

After the triumphal entry one would thinkJesus would go and ride this momentum and take power. We would think this was what everything was built up for. This was the moment that the Kingdom was coming to overthrow the rulers. Instead Jesus goes to the temple and overturns tables. He goes and cleanses the temple. Jesus takes the support of the crowd and instead of taking power he cleanses the place of praise from corruption. This naturally makes the religious angry. The scriptures describe them as being “indignant” in Matthew 21:15. The challenge of their religious way of life, which centers on themselves instead of God, turned them against Jesus. 

Challenging Their Authority 

One of the greatest reasons the religious elite in Jerusalem hated Jesus was because He challenged their authority. The triumphal entry was not a time of rejoicing for them but one of anger. They knew that the people being behind Jesus threatened their religious position. When your personal religious position is the most important part of your life then anything that threatens that must be done away with. So the Pharisees in particular would not stand by and allow their religious authority to be challenged. This resulted in their plot to kill Jesus. 

I believe that these three reasons still apply today as reasons why people reject Jesus. Many people expect Jesus to be the one who provides all that they want, or who promotes what they want when they want it. When that expectation is not met, they reject Jesus as a fraud. The reality is, their conception of Jesus was the only thing that was fraudulent. People also reject Jesus because His purity exposes our corruption. We do not like our spiritual corruption to be revealed, especially when it is profitable for us. Our authority is one of the parts of life that people hold most dearly. They guard it with everything within them. So when Jesus comes and challenges the areas in which we have authority, we would rather see Him die than lose our position that we hold so dear.

I pray for us that just as we cry “Hosanna” as He enters, we will serve Him fully to the very end!

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