As I imagine it, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky the day He rode that donkey into town. Streets lined with men, women, and children all bustling to make their desires known…they were tired of the oppression imposed by the Roman government. They wanted freedom and they wanted it now. They desperately wanted Jesus to be their King.
They laid palm branches and coats before the donkey. The palm branches were symbolic of a time when the Jews were liberated from the political tyranny of the Syrians. The people that took to the streets that day were indeed looking for another political liberation much like their forefathers had experienced.
Jesus would deliver them, just not in the way the crowd had in mind.
As He rode through town, the crowd was yelling “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!” which literally means, “Save, please! Save, please! Save, please!” There was an acute sense of urgency to their cries for salvation. Their praise and adoration of their King grew as He journeyed closer to the heart of the city.
But as day turned to night and back to day again, the attitude of the crowd turned from celebration to frustration and eventually into complete indignation. They felt betrayed. In a matter of days, the voice of the crowd deteriorated from “Hosanna! Save us! Hosanna!” to “Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
I remember as a young boy seeing Jesus’ entry on the donkey played out in full color on the flannel board on Palm Sunday. Then one week later, I remember seeing His death, burial, and resurrection played out on the same flannel board on Easter Sunday.
Hearing these two stories within days of each other was confusing for me. I remember asking, “Where were all the Palm Sunday people on Thursday when Jesus was standing on trial before Pilate?” It was difficult for me to grasp the dramatic change in the crowd’s posture and their view toward Jesus in just a matter of days. It was a complete 180º turn. They went from utmost praise and adoration to extreme hate and disdain in less than a week.
Unmet expectations can be dangerous. They expected Jesus to save them from the Romans and establish His kingdom in Jerusalem; however, Jesus offered them so much more! He wanted to save them from themselves and establish His Kingdom in their hearts. Their expectations placed on Jesus were temporal while Jesus’ mission was and is eternal.
If I am honest as I evaluate my life, I see that I can have a “Save me now” mentality and place false expectations on Jesus.
A few years ago, my wife and I purchased a mini van. (I know. I know. I turned my man card in long ago. Don’t judge. You know you want one too.) Along with the vehicle we assumed a loan that was manageable on paper, but as we attempted to live this budget out on a day-to-day basis it proved too much for our family. As unexpected expenses continued to emerge we needed to be saved. I remember praying prayers similar to, “Lord, Hosanna! Save NOW! Deliver us from this financial oppression!”
Circumstances will sometimes go wrong. That doesn’t mean we need to turn from adoration of Him to indignation. He has not left us abandoned. Jesus has come to save us from much more than our circumstances. He has come to save us from ourselves. He has come to save us from our sin and reconcile us to God.
We cannot let our love of Jesus be drowned out by the noise of the crowd yelling around us. We must keep our eyes focused on the One who loves us and came to save us. This is our hope…He is our eternal hope…He is our King…Jesus.