The crowd on the day of the crucifixion was an interesting bunch. Many in that crowd may have been there when Jesus fed the 5000, or the time he fed another 4000. The great multitudes described in Matthew Chapter 4 were following him from throughout the region. They may have heard him preach The Sermon on the Mount. Many of His miracles were witnessed by large groups.
The hordes were there lining the streets when He entered Jerusalem on that Sunday. They, “took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, even the King of Israel.” They were calling Him King. They had seen what He had done for them, feeding them and healing their diseases. They had heard Him preaching the Kingdom of God, forgiveness and love. It seemed like He was maybe even their Messiah, the promised King of Israel who was prophesied in ages past. He would become their King and solve all the problems of Roman oppression.
It wouldn’t take long for the masses to turn on Him.
Once He had been betrayed by Judas and led from Caiaphas to Pilate in the Praetorium, Pilate confronts Him with the question, “Are you King of the Jews?”. Pilate was no cheerleader for the Jews. In Luke 13 we are told about “the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices”. He had apparently murdered Jews right in the Temple. Asking Jesus if He was their King was his way of mocking Him. Jesus answers Pilate by telling him that His kingdom is not something Pilate could see. It was other-worldly. He surely wasn’t Pilate’s King.
The Roman soldiers placed a crown of thorns on His head and mocked Him saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” while slapping Him in the face. Their total disrespect for this innocent Man speaks of their disdain for who He claimed to be.
He surely wasn’t the soldiers King.
Jesus did not attempt to hide who He was. When confronted by Pilate’s straight-forward question, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Jesus left no doubt in anyone’s mind about His office of King that had been established in eternity past by God the Father. Soon, Pilate would try to release Him as even he could see that He was innocent. The crowd would have no part of it. They would shout, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.” They would appeal to Pilate saying that he was disloyal to Caesar. Perhaps even a traitor. Pilate would have no choice, according to the masses. So, they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate would then mock the blood thirsty crowd with, “Shall I crucify your King?” He knew exactly what they were thinking as they reached a fever pitch calling for His execution.
He surely wasn’t the crowd’s King.
Enter now the chief priests. These were the men who offered sacrifices to God. They had been preparing sacrifices in the Temple getting ready for the Feast of the Passover. How did they respond to this injustice? Did they attempt to quell the crowd? No. Instead they make a statement that blasphemes the God of Heaven by denying God as Israel King. They shouted, “We have no king but Caesar”. Caesar was the head of government. He was the government. He demanded compete loyalty. They would sooner give it to him than to Jesus. Loyalty to Caesar meant obedience.
So, many in our times look to the government to solve this world’s problems. Earthly leaders can only provide limited leadership. They can keep society somewhat civil and bring order to nations in some ways. But they cannot provide what we really need. Governments and political systems will always fail.
The crowd that day, including their chief priests, were willing to obey Caesar and declared their loyalty while rejecting the King that the God of Israel had sent them. They were saying that God was not their King. Instead, God had been replaced on Israel’s throne with Caesar.
Allow me to pose a few personal questions. Is He your King today? Or, is He some historical figure that maybe carries some religious significance for you? Is He a person that you hear about in church but really has not effect on the way you lead your life? Do you identify with Pilate, the soldiers, the crowds or the chief priests? Are you perhaps indifferent? Do you think that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is “The Greatest Story Ever Told” but has not relevance to your life?
I can’t answer those questions for you, but I can tell you, based on what God has said, that where you will spend in eternity hangs in the balance. What you believe and Who you place your trust in determines your future. Peoples of ages past have bowed the knee in humble submission to earthly kings. Some in fear while others with some sense of loyalty. Perhaps respect and maybe love for a benevolent ruler. Many today give homage to celebrities, sports figures and, yes, government leaders. But, on the authority of Scripture, this you can be sure of: One day Jesus will be everyone’s King, whether you want Him to be or not. The Word of God declares that “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.
Is He your King?