Israel rejoiced in John the Baptist’s lamp-light for a while (John 5:35). Many Jews saw the straight path from Baptist’s ministry to the Messiah’s coming. They were anticipating the Messiah’s arrival, expecting Him to defeat their enemies and to share His kingdom with them. They couldn’t wait for the Messiah to change their lives. But John lost his luster when he kept talking about the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
A few years later, Jesus entered Jerusalem to pageantry and praise. On the day we call Palm Sunday, the crowd was eager to crown their King. They cried out, “Hosanna!” “Save us, we pray!” They laid their clothes and palm branches on the road in front of Him. He was their Messiah, but not the One they wanted. He offered them life, but not the one they wanted. He came to defeat their greatest enemy, their death-deserving sin, and to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin. They wanted Him to defeat the Romans. Within a week they asked the Romans to crucify Him.1
Jesus does promise life. He promises an eternal inheritance in His kingdom for all who follow Him. He promises to share His glory with His servants. He promises communion with Himself and with His Father.
But life comes on certain terms, namely, it only comes by His death. He will be exalted, given the name above every name, but that lifting came after being humbled, by being obedient even to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:8-11).
We who believe should look forward to His final victory. We should look forward to obtaining the guaranteed inheritance. We ought to anticipate the day when all our enemies are defeated. But the way to life is the way of dying. The Lord’s Table reminds us of what we have in Christ, now and forever. It also reminds us how He purchased it, once and for all.
- I'm aware of the arguments that not everyone who cried out "Hosanna!" on Sunday cried out "Crucify Him!" on Friday. Some in the crowds believed Him truly to the end, others didn't stop hating Him from the beginning. Certainly the crowds included both. But a recurring theme in Jesus' ministry is the capricious reactions of men, so to say that there weren't any at all who swapped their position seems like a stretch. ↩