Why were those who were acknowledging Jesus as Israel’s King on Palm Sunday apparently also demanding His crucifixion only a couple of days later? What happened?
I don’t think it was the same people.
The Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the scribes (hereafter “the leaders”) were the power structure of Israel under the Roman occupation. They were known to be corrupt, they had a great deal of power, and they did not hesitate to use it for money or against those who got in their way. They were ready to commit murder without hesitation if lesser means failed. Which means that by the time Jesus became a threat to them, they had already committed murder, perhaps many times. (John 11:47-53; 12:10)
Although Jesus never picked a fight with the leaders, when the leaders picked a fight with Jesus, He humiliated them publicly. Chapters 21 and 22 of Matthew are a lengthy wrangle between Jesus and the leaders. Having destroyed their arguments, in chapter 23 Jesus turns to “the multitudes and His disciples” and thoroughly destroys whatever shreds of reputation the leaders had left.
Jesus was known to be a good man who never wronged anyone. He also healed massive numbers of people, cast out demons as if it were nothing, and had raised at least three people from the dead – a child, the only son of a widow, and His friend Lazarus. He fed a crowd of thousands on at least two occasions. This could only have made Him more popular among people who were oppressed by their leaders. Just like Americans were uproariously supportive of Sarah Palin and Donald Trump.
Take a look at the first three minutes of this video. This is what met King Jesus on Palm Sunday!
Take a look at this brief video of President Donald Trump at the 2020 National Championship football game:
Or this: “Because you’d be in jail”:
That is what the Palm Sunday crowd was like! Some Jews had already planned to make Him King by force. Now He was presenting Himself as their official King, in the manner authorized by the Prophets and the Law. He had the credentials, He had power, He had honor. And on Palm Sunday, the Jewish population was ready to rock!
What constitutes a multitude? There’s no question the Palm Sunday crowd was vast. Matthew 21:8 describes this as “a very great multitude“. They were there to celebrate one of the most important events in Jewish history: the miracle that caused Pharaoh to release the Jews, so there would have been probably many thousands of Jews present on what we sometimes call “Palm Sunday”.
“Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest [Jesus] because they knew He had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.” (Mark 12:12)
“… and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people.” (Luke 22:2)
John wrote, “The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, ‘You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!‘ ” (John 12:19)
So what changed? Why was the Palm Sunday crowd replaced with “Crucify Him”?
Luke 23:1 says, “… and having risen up, a great multitude of them led Him to Pilate.” But if you look at the previous verse, “them” turns out to be the Sanhedrin, an assembly of 71 men. A great multitude of the Sanhedrin would have been most of the 71-member body. Do you suppose we could find an equivalent number of US Senators or US Congressmen to agree on something un-Constitutional or morally outrageous? That has already happened many times. Yet there are at least 70 MILLION American citizens who do not feel they are represented by our current “elected” leaders. So there is room to doubt that even a majority of the Jewish population agreed with the Sanhedrin’s illegal condemnation of Jesus.
At Jesus’ last trial, “Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people.”
When Pilate tried again to release Jesus, “…the whole crowd shouted, ‘Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!‘ ” Again Pilate tried to persuade the crowd to accept the release of Jesus, but “… they kept shouting, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!‘ ” (From Luke chapter 23)
Depending on the source you consult, this is somewhere between approximately 6am and 8am on a weekday.
Where do you get a crowd at that hour, to confront a hostile government, after a secret, illegal trial that you conducted in the dead of night because you were afraid that the crowds would get violent if you even tried to arrest this man?
Have we seen instances of orchestrated protests and riots when the American Left wanted to intimidate and destroy? I think that’s exactly what happened here. And there is evidence that this was a tactic Israel’s leaders were familiar with:
When Paul preached Christ in the synagogue at Thessalonica, “Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city.” (Acts 17:4-5)
Could it be that the “multitude” shouting “crucify Him” was several hundred “bad characters” who … hmmmm … might even have been paid to show up? Have we seen that happen in recent American politics?
Maybe the merchants who did business in the Temple? Whom King Jesus had driven out of the Temple, whose tables and chairs He overturned, whose businesses and reputations were badly damaged, if not destroyed? Mark says that Jesus enforced Sabbath law also: He “… would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.”
Defense rests. Defense counsel requests a verdict of NOT GUILTY for the Jewish people in the matter of the crucifixion of Jesus the Messiah.
America today stands in the same place as Israel did after the crucifixion of King Jesus: we have ignored our sins and desired political and economic “salvation”. Judgment is coming. The day of our national salvation is past. There is still time for individuals to believe in Jesus and ask God’s forgiveness for their sins.
As for our “leaders”, don’t get caught in their machine, or in rebellion against it. There’s no time left for that. Judgment is on the way.
“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’
Peter replied, ‘Change your minds and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.’
With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation!’ Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:37-41)