I’ve always found it curious that surely many of the same people who were waving palm branches and crying out “Hosanna!” must have been among the mob shouting “Crucify Him!” only a week later.
How could things have changed so dramatically in the space of just a few days? How could they possibly be so fickle?
I think it had everything to do with perspective.
For centuries, the Jewish people had waited for the promised messiah to come. They had developed strong ideas around what he would do when he appeared and nearly all of those ideas were based on political power and cultural identity.
They wanted to be defended. They wanted their culture protected. They wanted to have their way of life the way they wanted it to be. And most of all, they wanted what they believed to be real power.
But Jesus had come with a very different sort of power. Here was a King who washed His follower’s feet. Here was a King who promised that He would raise the temple in three days if it was destroyed. Here was a King who cleared the outer courts of the money changers because He wanted it to be a place of encounter with His Father rather than a venue for transaction. Here was King who didn’t just see the poor and broken, He healed them and loved them and, shockingly, became their friend.
The people’s perspective was focussed on getting Jesus onto a worldly throne.
Jesus, instead, had set His perspective towards a brutal cross.
That path would lead Him in the days ahead to a night of agony in our second garden: Gethsemane. It was a place that Jesus and the disciples visited often, to draw aside perhaps, and to find some peace and quiet away from the crowds clamouring for a king.
It’s so beautiful to me that most wondrous and powerful King in all of history sought solace in a garden rather than a throne room. That the place He felt nearest to His Father was in a place alive with life, rather than covered in gold and precious stones.
He was a different sort of King.
But sometimes, just like those fickle crowds of Jerusalem, we want to make Jesus fit our perspective. Perhaps we can imagine asking Him for a favour from His royal hand, but we can’t fathom what it would be like to walk daily with Him, growing in our love as we draw closer to Him as our friend and our saviour. Maybe we’re happy with a perspective of Jesus as good teacher, but we bristle at the thought that He is God.
We may even find it easier to approach Him as mighty King because we fear what intimacy may reveal of us if we let Him inside the most secret places of our heart. It’s easier to keep Him at arm’s length when He’s on a golden throne and not meeting us in our sorrow and fear.
But Easter reminds us that the King came in love; that His grace was as gentle as His purpose was relentless… and that regardless of our perspective, His was always focussed on us.
As He enjoyed that second garden with His disciples during the week before the cross, surely He knew that the shouts of praise would soon be replaced with the harsh cries of “We have no king but Caesar!” and “Crucify Him!” because He wasn’t the King their perspective demanded.
Still He set His perspective on us.
Still He journeyed toward the cross.
He had set His heart on us and nothing would dissuade Him.