Rev. & Mrs. Kenneth Fellenbaum

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Milford, Connecticut, United States

Bible Verse of the Day

Saturday, March 23, 2013

From Triumph to Trial

One of the greatest days in the Church calendar in addition to Christmas and Easter is Palm Sunday. This is the day we celebrate Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem. There were crowds of cheering people and he was accompanied by his admiring disciples. Christ's popularity was never higher. He had just raised Lazarus from the dead and there were many people in Jerusalem from Galilee who had seen the miracles and heard him teach. However, by Friday, things had radically changed. Jesus was betrayed by Judas, deserted by his followers, experienced the mockery of a trial, jeered by a crowd and finally put to death on a cross between two criminals. What happened--what went wrong to change things? Who was responsible for this reversal and why did it turn out this way?

We have already recounted the events of two thousand years ago. Let us look at the various people involved and then lastly, explain why this happened. Considering the possibilities of who was responsible for things going from triumph to trial, let us examine the biblical account in Matthew 26. Someone might suggest as is often the case when a leader falls from grace that he did something to cause this. This was not the reality with Jesus Christ. We might ask if one of his staff of followers did something. Judas to be sure played a major role by going to the Jewish authorities and offering to betray Christ for money. The Jewish religious leaders--the establishment--also played a major part. Apparently, their problem with Jesus was fueled by their jealousy and suspicion of him because of his popularity with the people. They were clearly threatened by this and were also at variance with him on his teaching. Jesus frequently corrected what had been corrupted by man down through the centuries on such things as the Sabbath. He emphasized "the spirit" and not "the letter" of the law, which is legalism.

Additionally, there were the two trumped-up charges that involved the temple and his messiahship and divinity. On the first point, Jesus had said, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up again in three days" (John 2:19). The context of this quote reveals that Jesus was speaking about his body and the resurrection and not the temple which was the focal point of Judaism. When he was asked if he were the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus replied, "Yes, it is as you say" (Matthew 26:63-64). A key issue that still separates Jews and Christians is not so much whether Jesus is the Messiah but that Christ could be human and divine. The prophecy in Isaiah 9 indicates that this indeed is true. (See v. 6-7).

Looking for other people who also bear some responsibility, we would have to point out the crowds who were led to call out, "Crucify him!" when given the opportunity to choose between Jesus and Barabbas. The rulers at the time also deserve mention. Pilate, the Governor, and Herod, the Tetrarch over Galilee, could have seen that he received justice but each did not. Jesus was crucified by Roman soldiers because only the Romans had authority to execute someone. No doubt the soldiers would say that they were "just carrying out orders."

All of the above played a part in Jesus' death. But according to the New Testament, the real reason that Jesus went to the cross was to make atonement for the sins of the world (See Acts 2:23, 1 John 2:2 & Romans 3:25). This means that your sins and my sins put Jesus on the cross. He gave his live to be our Saviour. This is ultimately the reason that things happened as they did during Holy Week.

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