Recently, we celebrated Palm Sunday, in which Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey. His entrance was heralded with crowds of cheering spectators, palm branches and cloaks thrown down to cover the road on which the donkey walked and lots of excitement.
I often marvel at the great response to this man riding into the city on a borrowed donkey. Who made up the crowd that lined the streets? Who welcomed Jesus like a conquering hero or some royalty? Why did this assembly of pilgrims, inhabitants of Jerusalem, followers of Jesus, curiosity seekers, and those needing healing raise such a fuss?
Were they his familiar followers, or prospective followers, or just groupies? Groupies are those who tag along behind celebrities, rock bands or infamous people hoping to be part of the inner circle.
It was most likely a mixture of all of the above as well as religious leaders who distrusted Jesus and wanted him dead.
On Sunday, the crowds could not get enough of this man, but by Friday, many needed something more exciting to hold their attention. It was no longer enough to just chant his name and shout praises. Jesus had not lived up to their expectations, and the people had grown bored and wanted something more. When Jesus was arrested, the only thing left to entertain the crowd was to witness a public execution. When Pontius Pilate gave the mob a choice of setting Jesus free or executing him, no one shouted praises or called him a king. Instead the air was filled with shouts of “crucify him”.
The question tugging at me is where I would have been in the crowd. Would I have been pushing through the people to the front shouting for Jesus’ release; would I have been curious as to whom he really was; would I have been disillusioned as to whom this man was supposed to be; would I have been a groupie, or worse yet, would I have been just a face in the crowd?