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May 16, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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Easter Day One: Swept Up in the Moment
By Danny Saavedra
“When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, ‘Hosanna!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’”—Mark 11:7–10 (NIV)
Have you ever been swept up in a communal reaction? Think about being at the big game watching your team win as the crowd goes wild and strangers are hugging and high fiving! Or how about being in the high school cafeteria and all of sudden someone bursts in and yells, “FIGHT!” Like sheep, everyone runs out and is soon caught up in the chaos, chanting, “Fight! Fight! Fight!”
The truth is a lot of our reactions to things are influenced by the masses. We can get swept up in the relevance and hysteria of a moment. Sometimes, it’s justified—the Cinderella story of the Saints winning the Super Bowl the year Katrina devastated New Orleans, or joining a peaceful demonstration for a worthy cause—and other times, things get out of hand as agitators incite the worst—like fans rioting and looting in celebration of their team winning a championship!
One of the things I love most about the Gospel of Mark is how often he emphasizes the people’s reactions toward Jesus, whether it be amazement, shock, confusion, joy, or indignation. I imagine it was easy to get swept up in the excitement and buzz around the movement of Jesus.
Today, as we kick off Holy Week, I want touch on two instances that occurred during Jesus’ final week in which the people got swept up in a moment. The first moment is when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. You see, as Jesus will say just a few verses later in John 12:23 (NKJV), “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.” Jesus was on a mission to tear down the veil between God and man (2 Corinthians 5:18), render sin powerless (Romans 6:6), defeat death (1 Corinthians 15:55), and set us free (Galatians 5:1). Nothing was going to stop Him from fulfilling His mission to rescue us . . . the hour had indeed come!
And so, as Jesus rode into Jerusalem to fulfill His mission, people began to stir and suddenly everyone was getting swept up in it, laying out palm branches and shouting “Hosanna in the highest!” The phrase in the highest implies to the utmost, highest degree or in the highest heavens. Many scholars believe the people were likely calling on heaven to participate in glorifying Jesus with cries of salvation to confirm the growing suspicion that He was the promised Messiah.
For three years, the people had seen or heard stories of amazing miracles and revolutionary, authoritative teachings. In fact, just days before this Jesus taught He was “the good shepherd” (a designation reserved for David) and had raised Lazarus from the dead! And so, with excitement and expectation at a fever pitch, the masses joyfully shouted in unison.
But we humans, like sheep, are fickle and easily swayed, and days later the same people that shouted “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” would shout “Crucify Him!” This is the second instance I was referring to. Here, the Pharisees incited the crowd to demand Jesus die a gruesome death reserved for criminals.
But here’s the craziest thing about this: Jesus knew this would happen! He knew He’d be betrayed, suffer, and be subjected to a criminal’s death. But He did it anyway because He loves us so deeply, completely, and unconditionally!
Hebrews 12:2 (NIV) tells us, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross.” What joy? The joy of redeeming and restoring us to a right relationship with God, to make us children of God, to give us everlasting life! He did it for the joy of you! Psalm 18:19 (ESV) says, “He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.” Let this sink in: Because Jesus delights in you and desires a relationship with you, He endured the cross.
Today, I pray we get swept up in the reality of who Jesus is and what He did for us. And I pray that every day, we would be swept up in the movement of the Spirit as He leads us to accomplish the work God has called us to . . . the work of telling the world about Jesus!
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.