Five days after the crowds waved their palms and cried their hosannas as he entered Jerusalem, Jesus was on trial. The Prince of Peace had come, but they didn’t want a prince of peace, they wanted a hero.
They wanted a hero. Like Barrabas. Mel Gibson misrepresented Barrabas. He got Barrabas all wrong. Barrabas was not just a bloodthirsty cutthroat criminal. He was a national hero. He was a freedom fighter. He had led an insurrection against the Roman occupation. Some Roman soldiers had been killed. He had been arrested. He was a political prisoner set to be executed. And he was a hero among the Jews.
He had a first name. Jesus. Jesus Bar-Abbas. Jesus, son of the father. He was a false messiah. Jesus Barabbas? Or Jesus of Nazareth? Pilate says which one do you want? Do you want the violent freedom fighter hero?? Or do you want the peaceful, riding on a donkey too small for him messiah from Galilee, Jesus of Nazareth? Give us Barabbas. As for Jesus, crucify him.
The Palm Sunday crowd said all the right things, but they said them in the wrong way. It’s not enough to praise Jesus as king, we have to know what kind of king he is. If we think that Jesus is a king after the model of the conquering pharaohs and Caesar’s, we actually are rejecting Jesus. And refusing the Price of Peace always has terrible consequences. That’s why Jesus says a generation from now Jerusalem will become a fiery Gehenna where the worm never dies as it eats those corpses, and the fires are never quenched.
That’s what Jerusalem did to itself in rejecting Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace. Jerusalem did not want the new Kingdom of God, they just wanted to win at the old game of payback, get even, and vengeance. The old game is power enforced by violence. They didn’t want God’s new kingdom, they just wanted God to help them win at the old game. But God had already said through the prophet Zachariah that he was done playing the old game. That when the messiah comes, god is done with the old game. No more old game, behold I do a new thing. “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 ESV. And I send my son, the Prince of Peace to teach peace to the nations. “I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.” Zechariah 9:10 ESV
But Jerusalem did not want the new kingdom, they wanted to win the old game. Their desire to play the old game led to their destruction. The Prince of Peace had just ridden into town offering a new way of being Israel and they had missed it. Their desire to beat their enemies at the old game had blinded them. They got Jesus wrong, and it set them on a wrong path that ended in their destruction.
If you had asked the chief priests if they believed Zachariah’s prophecy will ever be fulfilled, if they believed that someday the son of David, the true king of Israel, would ever really come humble and lowly, riding on a foal of a donkey, that he will come and teach peace among the nations, do you believe that will ever happen?? They would have said yes, but not now. Now is not the time for peace. Now is the time to fight. Now is the time for war.
This is not a history lesson. This is a warning for every follower of Jesus. Do we want Jesus and his new way of peace, or do we want Jesus to help us win the old game? Are we making the same mistake? Do we say that someday the prince of peace will come, we believe he will come someday, but not now!! If we do, we play the same game the chief priests played when they led Jerusalem to hell.
But the Prince of Peace has come!! The prince of peace HAS COME! Christmas, Good Friday, Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday HAVE HAPPENED. The Prince of Peace has come. But do we want the Prince of Peace? Or do we want our heroes? When we play the game of saying we believe the Bible, believing it’s all going to happen, but NOT NOW, that’s how we play the game of rejecting Christ but still believing the Bible…
The chief priests would have told you they believed in Christ. They would have said they accept Christ, they believed in Messiah, they believed Messiah was coming, but NOT NOW. NOT NOW. Yes, we believe the Bible, but it’s not for NOW. We believe all those verses, but they’re not for now. Someday, but not now. Now we fight.
And Jesus said there’ll be hell to pay, and he weeps over Jerusalem. It’s not enough to praise Jesus. We can do that and still get Jesus wrong. We get Jesus right when we confess Jesus as Christ and King. We get Jesus wrong when we see him as for us and against them. We get Jesus right when wave the palms as if to welcome the worlds true king. We get Jesus wrong when we wave the palms as national flags. We get Jesus right when we acclaim him with the word Hosanna!! Save now! We get Jesus wrong when we say it’s hurray for our side…
“As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.””
Luke 19:37-40 ESV