How could Israel welcome Messiah on Palm Sunday, but then demand His death later that week?


by Shawn Brasseaux

What made the crowds vacillate from praising the Lord Jesus Christ on Sunday to killing Him on Thursday?

Anyone familiar with Scripture knows of the so-called “Triumphal Entry,” when Jesus rode a baby donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday just days before His crucifixion. (The title is a misnomer, for Christ’s true Triumphal Entry is Revelation 19:11-21!) He did this to fulfill Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” Without a doubt, and entering right on schedule according to Daniel 9:24-26, Jesus was Messiah!

  • Matthew 21:6-9: “And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”
  • Mark 11:7-10: “And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him. And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.”
  • Luke 19:35-38: “And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
  • John 12:12-16: “On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.”

While Israel’s believing remnant, the Little Flock (Luke 12:32), was aware of Jesus’ identity—that He was Messiah/Christ—the city of Jerusalem was overwhelmingly ignorant of that fact. “And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee” (Matthew 21:10-11). To them, He was simply “another prophet.” Consequently, although there was a welcoming crowd into Jerusalem, the city itself abounded with spiritual darkness. The Lord did not receive unanimous acceptance. Most of the nation was in unbelief.

Luke chapter 19 relates the following: “And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (verses 39-40). Israel’s religious leaders were unbelieving, apostate, having thrown away the truth of the Old Testament Scripture; they so disliked the crowds paying more attention to Jesus than to them! (At Christ’s trial later that week, Pontius Pilate will sense their “envy” toward Jesus. “For he knew that for envy they had delivered him” [Matthew 27:18]. “For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy” [Mark 15:10].)

We should not be surprised to find a crowd welcoming and praising the Lord Jesus Christ on Sunday only to discover a crowd crying out against Him Thursday morning. Israel was already divided because Him long before the Passion Week. In fact, we see Him encountering hostile, bitter enemies throughout His 33 years of earthly life. Those last three years (His ministry) were especially perilous. From the very beginning, not all Israel believed on Him anyway. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:…” (John 1:11-12).

As Jesus stood before Roman Judaean Governor Pontius Pilate, soon to be sentenced to death, the Bible informs us of the following:

  • Matthew 27:20: “But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.”
  • Mark 15:11: “But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.”
  • Luke 23:23: “And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.”
  • John 19:15: “But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.”

What ultimately influenced Israel to reject Jesus as Messiah was the very men He had appointed to take care of the nation’s spiritual needs! The elders (aged men leading the country) and the chief priests were knowledgeable of the Hebrew Bible. They studied it in great detail, they memorized it, and they claimed to be “experts” in it. Yet, they did not look at it through the eyes of faith. They did not have hearts of faith. It was vain, empty works-religion—so close to the truth and yet so far from it at the same time! Had they believed those Divine words, they would have seen Jesus as fulfillment of those Scriptures. The stunning truth is that atheists did not demand Jesus’ death. Neither did harlots (prostitutes). Nor publicans (tax collectors). Who urged Christ’s crucifixion? People who had the Bible and claimed to believe and love it! It is not enough to have the Bible, read the Bible, study the Bible, or memorize the Bible. We must believe the Bible in our heart—or we really do not appreciate it!

“But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5:42-47)

Also see:
» Who were the elders?
» Who were the scribes?
» Who were the Pharisees?
» What was the Sanhedrin?
» Who were the Sadducees?
» Who were the chief priests?
» At what age did Jesus Christ die?
» Was Jesus really crucified on Friday?
» How did Israel manipulate Moses to murder Messiah?
» Why did Jesus offer Himself to Israel if He knew they would reject Him?
» Who was more responsible for Jesus’ death—the Jews or the Romans?
» If they were fulfilling Bible prophecy, how are Christ’s murderers culpable of wrongdoing?