Q: Why did the crowds that welcomed Jesus when he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey turn against him and demand his death only a few days later? — T.A.
A: Sunday millions of Christians around the world will celebrate what we have come to call “Palm Sunday” — the day on which Jesus entered Jerusalem, riding a donkey and being greeted by a large crowd proclaiming him the long-promised Messiah. “They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” (John 12:13).
And yet only a few days later another large crowd gathered outside the palace of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, demanding Jesus’ death. For several days Jesus had taught openly, but on Thursday night he was arrested and put on trial for blasphemy (since he claimed to be God), as well as treason (since they claimed he was fomenting a rebellion). As news spread of his arrest, a hostile crowd gathered, demanding his death. “The whole crowd shouted, ‘Away with this man!’ … ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ ” (Luke 23:18, 21).
Were these the same people who had welcomed him only a few days before? Perhaps, at least partly. But what is clear is that no one stood up to defend him, and Pilate finally gave in to the shouts of the crowd and ordered his execution. Both Pilate and the crowd ignored the truth and rejected the Son of God.
Which crowd would you have been with? The one welcoming Jesus or the one rejecting him? Don’t answer too quickly; how often do you let others pressure you into doing what’s wrong? Don’t go by what the crowd does, but give your life to Christ and become his follower. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
Write to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201 or go to BillyGraham.org.