In Jesus’ day, Jews from all over the Roman empire came to Jerusalem for a weeklong celebration of Passover, a festival to thank God for delivering from the oppression of Pharaoh recounted in the book of Exodus.
The people held great expectations to see Jesus there. In Matthew 12, Jesus enters the city, not as a king riding in a chariot, but with peace and gentleness on the back of a young donkey.
“Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:2-10 ESV).
The people finally proclaimed aloud who Jesus is: The Son of David and The King of Israel. But we’ve heard it before, way back when He fed the 5,000.
“After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself” (John 6:14-15).
It seems everyone has their own agenda about Jesus. Acts 1:8 records the last thing His disciples said to Him: “So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” ( NLT). But at this point, Jesus wasn’t about restoring the kingdom, he was about restoring hearts.
In just five short days the enthusiasm the people showed when Jesus came into their presence on the donkey was gone. Instead they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Luke 23:21 NIV).
Jesus told a story about this change if heart:
“And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A sower went out to sow … Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away … As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away’” (Matthew 14: 4,6,20-21).
Thoughts of Easter celebrations often bring a time of reflection. We all need to examine our hearts. In what ways has your heart changed in the last year or so? Pray as King David did: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:12 ESV).