Why did the cheering stop?

On that Palm Sunday as Jesus approached Jerusalem, there were several things that He was aware of. He knew the conditions surrounding the people and the state of their hearts. 

The Jews found themselves under heavy Roman oppression. There were heavy taxes, restrictions, and numerous executions using crucifixion, and Jesus knew all about those things. The Jews were in search of someone. They desired a king, a conqueror, someone to set them free. They had seen the mighty works of this man Jesus. They were witnesses to Him restoring sight to blind people. They saw the evidence of Him healing the lame. They saw Him feed the multitude with a few loafs of bread and some fish and had leftovers to spare. They heard about Him raising Lazarus from the dead. They listened to Him teach with authority. Indeed, with power and authority like that, Jesus was undoubtedly the one who would set them free. 

So, Jesus came to Jerusalem, and the crowds began to cheer. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the crowds waved palm branches, a long-standing symbol of Jewish nationalism. They shouted, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” Cheering, praising, exalting. But, during Jesus’ final week in Jerusalem, he gathered no troops. He didn’t lead a revolt. He didn’t do what they expected. Instead, 

He drove the moneychangers out of the temple. He paid tribute to Caesar. He taught that giving out of poverty is worth more than giving out of abundance. He taught that to be great; you must be a servant. Jesus did everything the people didn’t want, so the cheering eventually stopped. 

Why did the cheering stop? “because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19:44). They stop cheering because their worldly circumstances blinded them from the Kingdom at hand and the Messiah who was revealing it. Sadly, we are the same way today. When you experience trials or certain hardships, suffer through various difficulties, and get your eyes on your circumstances; when your focus is on everything around you that is wrong, something happens. Your prayer starts to change. Your prayer shifts from one place to another, and it becomes, “Lord, deliver me, help me, fight for me, uplift me,” instead of, “Lord, change me, use me, grow me through these things, and let the glory be for yourself.” 

It’s incredible that when things go our way, when God does what we want, and Jesus rises to our cause; it’s easy to cheer. But what about when He doesn’t do these things? What happens when you face oppression? What happens when you experience troubles? Too often, the cheering comes to a stop. Words of adoration and praise quickly fade when you meet life as it is. Sometimes God does give us what we want, but you better believe; He always gives us what we need. Sometimes when we experience a little problem, our wants and desires blur our vision of our real needs. 

Too often, the desire is for God to change the circumstances instead of God changing the person in those circumstances, and sadly, it has an effect. In time the cheering stops. You lose sight of Him and His purpose and diminish your worship of Him. You go through the motions of service and praise Him for what you want Him to do instead of praising Him for who He is. Eventually, our heart hardens, and we stop cheering for the blessing we have, and the salvation offered. 

Easter is a time to remember the events leading up to Jesus’s arrest, brutalization, crucifixion, death, and resurrection. But it is more important to remember His purpose: to free us from the hold of sin and reconcile humanity with God so we can live both this life and our eternal one in the presence and under the grace and blessings of God. It’s time to let up a cheer knowing that God so loved the world that He sent His only son to die for you. 


Theologians describe temptation as the desire to engage in short-term urges for enjoyment that threatens long-term goals. It can be a distraction that prevents us from doing what is right. We can be tempted to buy things, eat things, write something on social media, say things to family or friends and so on, things that feel good at the time, but later we regret what occurred. Temptation turns our hearts away from God’s truth and towards a self-serving, self-centred attitude. 

Since humanity’s arrival on the earth, Satan has sought to distract us from God’s plan. He attacks our belief system and even uses God’s word to trick us. He tempts us to think because God loves everyone, we are all going to heaven. He will tempt us to reason that if we do good things and behave as good people, we can earn God’s invitation to eternity. He will draw us into ignoring God by aiding us to make excuses for why we don’t read our bibles, why we can’t pray or even why we can skip or even avoid going to church. He will distract us from reflecting on Easter’s significance and God’s salvation plan. 

Over the past few weeks, our churches have shared much about Jesus’ earthly ministry leading to His final days on this earth.  We need to hear these stories to remind us that God has a plan involving us that started in the Garden, got messed up, and has been corrected by Jesus. We must remember that Jesus is the key to humanity being with God for all eternity. We need to hear that God’s plan for us requires us to believe and trust Him.  

Our pre-easter stories remind us that Jesus allowed Himself to be taken prisoner, abused, crucified, and murdered as the final human ceremonial blood sacrifice. We need reminding that Jesus rose after the third day, ascended to heaven, and that, as He promised, He will return to bring all His followers to eternity with the Father. We need to remember that scripture says we are sinners, and we need to repent of those sins. We need to hear Jesus say, “our sins have been forgiven, and that belief in Him is the only way to a future with Him.” 

God brought his creation into a garden He prepared for us. He offered us everything we needed, including daily interaction with Him, and He asked us to be obedient. Satan tempted Adam and Eve to believe they could have more than God offered, resulting in their expulsion from paradise. We must be retold how we bear the scar of a flawed human nature which suggests we don’t need God. God tells us that belief in Jesus is the start of our reconnection to Him. We need to hear that God allowed Jesus to be the final sacrifice and that there are no actions we can personally do to earn us heaven.

Whether you understand or accept it, we are being tempted constantly to lose our self-control: to give into everything; to have no opinion or belief of our own, to let the world tell you what is right; to see Easter as another holiday, and to ignore God’s plan of salvation. We will never avoid temptation, but God has told us: “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

You must and can resist with the power of the Holy Spirit and get your mind back to what is true. Take time to read Jesus’ stories to see what is true. Turn your eyes towards heaven and seek the truth. See Easter for what it is; victory, freedom from the evil one, and a fulfilling future.  

Pray for change

Have you ever wondered where James (the gospel writer and brother of Jesus) was during Jesus’ earthly ministry? Was he one of the brothers mentioned in Matthew 12:47, where we read, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you?” Was he one of the family who comes to take Him away because they had thought “He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:21 b.) Did James hear Jesus say, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”. Did he witness Jesus’ point to His disciples and say, “Here are my mother and my brothers? For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother”. Did he hear those words, take them as a rebuke, and then shut himself off from Jesus and the truths He had to share? 

In the books of Acts, we read James is a leader in the church and not just a leader but the church leader in Jerusalem. What affected James such that when we read about the first gathering to address church matters, James is the one who responds with direction and authority? Does Paul offer a hint in 1 Corinthians 15:3–7, where he records that after Jesus’ resurrection, He visits James? There is no record of what was said between them, but that simple conversation and encounter appear to have changed James forever. What great reconciliation took place during that meeting for James to recognize what Jesus spoke about and what was the truth?

There is power in the name of Jesus, and even the most seemingly insignificant encounter can be life-changing. Once someone meets Jesus and recognizes what He offers, their life changes. Once someone chooses to follow Him, Jesus awakens them to a different world perspective and guides them to His kingdom. Jesus did not promise that His followers would have a life of ease and luxury but shared that we will have an encourager with us as we go through life. He said He would be with us during difficult times when life seemed to be going poorly. But more importantly, Jesus said He would be with us so that we could live life fully, become loving and compassionate, and see the world around us and change it, especially for those in need. 

When we pray for our family, our neighbours and our colleagues, we should pray they have an encounter with Jesus. We know that Jesus will initiate a life-changing transformation in them. We should pray that they have a simple conversation with Jesus so he can speak truth into their lives. We should also pray that we can be part of this simple conversation to continue to be changed. Pray Jesus changes someone you know.