This Sunday is Palm Sunday. It is the day when we remember how Jesus was welcomed with enthusiasm into Jerusalem. The crowd waved palm branches, shouted for joy and welcomed their hero. And then, a few days later, the crowd called for Jesus to be crucified, to be done away with. Jesus was no longer the hero. Some may argue that this was not the same crowd, that different people had their say on different days.
There’s no doubt that the crowd was led by different people on those two occasions, but the different reactions to Jesus are probably an instance of the fickleness of the crowd. Such a fickleness shows something of the human condition, which is marked by superficiality and the rush from one highlight to the next. Such a crowd also seems to project onto one person some of its aspirations and when that person does not live up to that projection, the condemnation is swift.
Even with the symbolism of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, the crowd expected Jesus to be a powerful Messiah, not the Suffering Servant. And so it turned on him.
We know that crowds are still like that. Today scenes of fickle crowd favour are more likely to be played out on-line, where the failure to live up to ever-shifting expectations can quickly result in cancellations of events and employment.
I wonder whether we at times also are only too ready to turn on Jesus, if crowd sentiment shifts. “Never!” might be our response. But that was also Peter’s claim.
As humans we are affected by “the changes and chances of this uncertain world”; we are only too easily influenced by the pressure to conform. As Peter experienced, Jesus responds to us in love, ♥ even when we have failed.