In John 12:12-19 you will find the account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem at Pentecost. His fame had spread and there was a huge crowd to meet him.
The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (v.12)
This was a large crowd. Josephus (historian at the time) estimated 2.7 million people were in Jerusalem. Most people would have known little about Jesus, but were drawn to the noise and joined in.
Most people’s experience is similar to that crowd – they may have heard about Jesus but are not sure where he fits in.
The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. (v.17-18)
Within that huge crowd there was a smaller crowd who had seen Jesus raise Lazarus and had spread the word. Having heard, they wanted to know more, so they went to meet him.
Maybe our experience is that we have begun to see more of Jesus and maybe he has a place in our lives. The best time to find out about Jesus is Easter. Christianity Explored is an ideal course for people who want to know more about Jesus.
So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” (v19)
There was a small group of Pharisees as part of the crowd, who opposed him. The Pharisees realised they had failed to discredit Jesus. They spoke the truth when they said the whole world had gone after him – there were people in the crowd from every part of the known world.
The Pharisees were too busy protecting their position to pay serious attention to the message Jesus brought. They wouldn’t even consider changing. Maybe, if you’re honest, you’ve never considered Jesus before, and don’t want to change, even before you find out what following Jesus even involves.
Which crowd are you part of?
The trouble with crowds is you can get easily influenced. Acclaim and dissent can both spread in a crowd. Think of football crowds or the audience at a big concert or festival. There can be trouble. There are many different ideas in a crowd.
Spiritually there are only two crowds: for or against Jesus.
A young man and his father went in the wrong gate at a football match and ended up with the other team’s supporters. Everything was all right until their side scored and they automatically cheered. Luckily the stewards spotted them and hauled them out before they were slaughtered! We need Jesus to rescue us – from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. From a crowd with lots of views and none, to knowing Jesus and being part of his ‘crowd’.
[adapted from a sermon by Pete Orphan at Pantygwydr Baptist Church]
Ann Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Find out more at www.annmariethomas.me.uk