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.