If You Were There
I have often wondered what it would be like to have been just an average person in the crowd during Jesus’ ministry. We hear the stories of the disciples, or Zacchaeus, or Nicodemus, but what about the nameless people who heard Jesus was in the area, came out to listen to his teaching, witnessed his miracles, and then returned to their regular day-to-day lives? How long did they reflect on and talk about what they had witnessed?
And what about the people in the crowd as Jesus made his way into Jerusalem, who were asking “Who is this?” (Matthew 21.10). Would I have watched from a distance as the crowds shouted, or been caught up in the excitement, and joined in with my own cries of “Hosanna! to the son of David,” hoping that this man could indeed be the long awaited Messiah.
Then, just days later, what must it have been liked to be in the crowd and see Jesus again, this time in the custody of Pilate, standing with Barabbas. Would you wonder if this could possibly be the same man you had seen on Sunday? Once again, the crowd begins to shout, but rather than pleas for salvation and praise, they yell, “Crucify him!” How would I respond?
As much as I like to think that I wouldn’t, I probably would have joined in. This seeming imposter Messiah who had caught up our hopes that he would be the promised savior, is now in Roman custody. This is not what we expected. This is not what we wanted.
In the end, no one stood with Jesus. Judas betrayed him. The others fell asleep. Peter denied him. Everyone left him. If we were there, you and I would have done the same.
And yet, there on the cross, alone and ridiculed, he prayed for their forgiveness. And ours. He did not stop loving us, but demonstrated the full extent of his love for us, for his betrayers and executioners.
“Here is a trustworthy saying… If we are faithless, he will remain faithful” (2 Timothy 2.11, 13)
May you be reminded this week, that no matter the sins and betrayals in your life, God promises that He “will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31.6).