I didn’t appreciate till I just looked at the scriptures about the Triumphal Entry how much Jesus did in those last days before his death. He turned over the temple moneychangers’ tables, told parable after parable, fielded loaded questions from religious leaders until they gave up trying to trap him, and foretold the signs of the end times. The account feels like a car chase scene in a movie, where you wish things would slow down so you can catch your breath.
But you know what? People were still calling Jesus a prophet.
He was not a prophet. He was the prophesied.
What happened between the Triumphal Entry—when people cheered and waved palm branches and cried, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”—and days later when those same people demanded that Barabbas, a murderer, be granted freedom (i.e., forgiven) while Jesus be crucified?
I think Christ didn’t fulfill their expectations.
The Hebrews looked for a conqueror to come and rout the Romans, to put an end to those tyrannical occupiers and bring freedom to the nation of Israel. But Jesus came meekly, behaved (for the most part) meekly, and went to his own death meekly. It looked, from any reasonable point of view, like Jesus had lost to the Romans. To evil. To Satan.
I’d have been pretty disappointed in him myself, to be honest.
Wouldn’t we all rather see our enemies instantly and grandly and publicly defeated, like Pharaoh’s armies were drowned as the Red Sea closed over them? Had Jesus done what people expected, however, he would only have been the savior—a temporal, provincial, and civic savior—of that people group for that particular era in history. More oppressors would come, because they always do.
But Jesus, by turning expectations on their head, saved everyone: every era, every nation, every person who calls on him.
Because he did what he did, the way he did it, he saved me, in this place and this century.
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“Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
– Matthew 21:10
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