The Death of the Messiah wasn’t a spur of the moment turn of events. It didn’t come out of nowhere and take everyone by surprise. Two groups were involved in the condemnation of the Messiah. Both rejected the Messiah for their own reasons. These two reasons for Jesus’ death are simple, and they can creep into our own lives if we aren’t watching and guarding our hearts.
There are few who would ever choose to lay Jesus on a cross and nail Him to a tortuous death. Yet the danger still lies nearby that we would reject His rule in our lives. So let’s look at these Two Reasons for Rejecting the Messiah, and search our hearts to push out any sign of them.
Jesus’ Presence demands Change
No life can encounter the Son of God and leave the same way they came. It isn’t possible. In the face of Jesus our lives bump against The Truth, and we can never be the same as a result.
We like the positive results of bumping into the Presence of Jesus that demands change. Love, grace, wisdom, healings and other miracles of all kinds are welcome when we get close to Jesus. It was this kind of change that drew the joyful crowds and shouts of “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday.
But Jesus also says, “Go and sin no more.” He tells those with much to leave it all behind. When we want to be first, promoted or admired, Jesus says to be last, humble ourselves and serve. Sometimes He tells those closest to Him to “get behind” Him, correcting their error. And He says those who love Him will keep His commands.
The chief priests, scribes and Pharisees were the ones who arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Throughout His ministry they were poked at, made fun of, condemned and warned against. The people chose to follow the authoritative, real-life application of Jesus’ teaching over their petty rules and obnoxious arrogance.
When Jesus demanded change in their way of life, the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees refused to listen. Even when the people gladly received every word Jesus spoke against them. Change wasn’t an option. There was too much to lose. They wanted what they wanted and no dusty carpenter from questionable parentage was going to question them.
They wouldn’t budge, wouldn’t give up their pursuits. They rejected Jesus as their Messiah and King. Anyone who chooses to live by their own rules and desires does the same, pulling Jesus off the throne, and making themselves king.
Jesus only Acts upon God’s Plan
While the priests and scribes arrested Jesus, it was the crowd of Jerusalem that called out, “Crucify Him!” Though some might try to point the finger at the priests and Pharisees for riling up the crowd (Mark 15:11), this doesn’t really account for the change in the hearts of the people.
Think back to the celebration of Palm Sunday. Who gathered them together, pushing them to show up and make a lot of noise? Out of whose purse were they bribed to wave palms and lay down their coats? What choir director or cheerleader gave them the words to say and queued them to shout along the side of the road?
No “stirring up” of the crowd was needed on Palm Sunday. So how could they be persuaded to ask for a thief and murderer over the King they had welcomed with unspeakable gladness? It wasn’t because of a bribe or a threat from the priests.
The real reason the people of Jerusalem cast Jesus aside was because He failed to produce according to their expectations. They had ideas and plans of what He was supposed to do. If He was the King, it was time to start doing kingly things. A couple of men who followed Jesus expressed their personal disappointments like this:
The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. (Luke 24:20–21)
After recognizing Jesus as the King, they expected Him to setup the Kingdom. He started off well by cleansing the Temple of cheats and thieves. He even put the Pharisees in their place and silenced the foolishness of the Sadducees. Then nothing else happened. No revolt against Rome. No crown or throne. No declaration of the free nation of Israel. Just more of the same.
When Jesus doesn’t perform according to our expectations we are dangerously close to pushing Him away just like they did. Our faith is tested: Do we follow Jesus because of what He does or because He is the Son of God? Is it about receiving from Him or about knowing Him?
It is a short distance from drawing close and celebrating the Messiah to pushing Him away, rejecting His rule in our lives.
The closer we get to Jesus the more He must become the Way, the Truth and the Life. He messes with us, challenging us to turn away from sin and walk in newness of life. But we have to be willing to let Him rule.
We also have to remember that the King has the final word, not the subject. What He says must be, and what He does is a piece of His puzzle, not our own. It’s great to have God move in power just as we hope He will, but we have to be content when He chooses to do what needs to be done according His plan.
Don’t push Jesus aside. Don’t be like those who sentenced the Messiah to death. Receive His Word, seek His Presence, and allow Him to bring His will into your life today.