Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey … a kingly sign of peace. His triumphal entry declared publicly that He was the Messiah. He moved slowly through the throngs of people who shouted Hosanna, which means "save now." The cheering crowd waved palm fronds and laid their cloaks across the path as Jesus crossed: a sign of honor and respect.
Throngs of pilgrims were already in the city to celebrate Passover and converged with the masses who were following Jesus. The parade route was lined with fans, friends, and of course the Pharisees. The city was abuzz with the news that Lazarus was raised from the dead, and the people were excited to witness the fulfillment of the prophecy found in Zachariah 9:9. The conquering hero had arrived.
Surely, He had come to destroy the Roman army and bring glory back to Israel as in the time of King David. Instead, Jesus came to conquer sin and death not with force, but with love. Jesus made it clear that God's values were radically different from the worlds when he said, "Turn the other check." "If someone sues for your coat, give him your shirt as well." "If you are commanded to carry their pack a mile, go two." "Love your enemies." Jesus flipped culture on its head when He forgave the woman caught in adultery and rebuked the religious leaders. When Jesus didn't amass an uprising against the Romans the people turned against Him.
That's the problem with fans … they can be fickle. They love you as long as you're winning. Jesus was about to defeat the enemies of sin and death, but the people didn't understand. The fans in the crowd who cheered "Hosanna" would cheer "Crucify Him" just days later.
The friends in the crowd were Jesus' followers and disciples. They spent time with Him, travelled with Him, and provided for his ministry. Yet, even the best of friends may not be there when we need them the most. Jesus was preparing to be deserted, betrayed, and denied. However, the three years spent with Him solidified them (his friends) as the backbone of the coming church.
The real enemies of Jesus were the Pharisees (the Jewish political and religious leaders). They despised Him because He challenged their power structure, exposed their hypocrisy, and threatened their security. Some of the Pharisees intercepted Jesus and told Him to "rebuke your disciples!" Jesus replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." I love His response. Jesus let them know nothing would stop His mission. The rocks will cry out all right—from the depths of the earth a quake is coming.
Jesus continued along the path and looked out over Jerusalem. Scripture says He wept over His people's hardened hearts. He sees 40 years into the future of Jerusalem, and the destruction that will come upon the city at the hands of Emperor Titus and his Roman legions. Let's not forget, Jesus is in the last week of His life and is fully aware that He will be betrayed, tried, and crucified. The Passion week has begun. Are you a Fan, Friend, or Pharisee?