isaiah 50:4-7; philippians 2:6-11; matthew 26:14-27:66
gene smith’s book «when the cheering stopped» tells the tale of us president woodrow wilson. after world war i, wilson was an international hero. on his first visit to europe after the war, cheering crowds greeted him everywhere.
after a year… at home, wilson ran into opposition; his league of nations was not ratified. his party was defeated in the elections. in europe, political leaders were more concerned with their own agenda than with lasting peace. as long as he «spoke» peace, woodrow wilson was heralded as the new messiah. when he called for change that would lead to peace, the cheering stopped. wilson became a broken man and a failure.
it’s a sad but not unfamiliar story. jesus faced something similar during his journey to jerusalem!
as long as jesus fed the hungry and healed the sick, he was popular. as long as the people saw him as a political messiah, they gave him a royal welcome.
when jesus emphasised that he was a king of love-peace, and not a conquering military hero, when he showed that he would rule through humble obedience, when he broke social and religious barriers, when he became a threat to the religious authority and political standing of some people, when he loved all people unconditionally and challenged people to do the same, when he called people to change… the cheering stopped. it turned to jeering. on the cross, jesus became (literally) a broken man and a human failure.
one who makes people feel good is popular. when one tries to translate ideals into reality, when one wants to change «feel good» to «do good», when one challenges people to amend attitudes and action… the cheering stops.
will i be the popular guy who makes people feel good or am i ready to be the unpopular guy who challenges people to be good? what will i do if/when the cheering stops?
the jesus «story» does not end on the cross; there is the empty tomb. it does not end on friday; it begins a new chapter on sunday.