Matthew 21:1 When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” 4 This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, 5 “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
There is an interesting distinction made between the crowds that followed Jesus into Jerusalem (v.8) and the people who lived in Jerusalem (v.10). The crowds (residents of small towns and rural areas) had likely followed Jesus for some time and had witnessed the things he had said and done. This was not the case with those living in Jerusalem.
Surely the residents of Jerusalem had heard rumors about Jesus, but were likely a bit skeptical. In a city like Jerusalem – metropolis, center of civil government, seat of religious authority, hub for commerce – its residents had seen and heard it all before. They also would have had a greater appreciation for the potential trouble someone like Jesus could stir up in Jerusalem. Read verse 10 again. Their response was not one of curiosity as much as concern. This would not end well.
In any event, we will read later how the adoring crowds quickly turned on Jesus in his hour of need. At the first sign Jesus was NOT the promised Messiah (Jesus appeared before them in chains) they were done with him. Crucify him!
It’s easy to be jaded and cynical. I know what it is to disappoint others, to fail to live up to their expectations. As the senior pastor of a local church, I can assure you I disappoint people all the time. I’m not who they want me to be. I don’t have the same gifts and capacities people remember from pastors past. I make mistakes. Lots of mistakes. When others put you on a pedestal there’s only one direction to go – and that’s down. This used to bother me, but not so much anymore. It comes with the territory.
On the other hand, I also know what it is to have hope in someone (at work, at home, in love and friendship) only to be disappointed when I realize they are not who I thought they were. In my younger years I would tend to break off the relationship and move on. Maybe the next person would be the perfect one I was looking for. Later in life I realized this was a mistake. If we’re constantly looking for just the right one we will be looking for a very long time.
If we follow Jesus long enough he too will fall short of our expectations. He will fail to deliver what we pray for. He will seem distant in our hour of need. And it’s in those moments of heartbreak and disappointment that faith is most needed. Maybe that’s you right now. Maybe you are filled with heartbreak and disappointment with God, with your loved ones, with yourself, with life. If so, hang on dear brothers/sisters. It’s often darkest just before the dawn.
Lord Jesus come to the aid of your people who struggle today. Give us grace that we might not give up, but instead hold fast to you until we see the breakthrough for which we yearn. We pray this in your most holy name. Amen.