When Jesus entered into Jerusalem the final time, his fame had spread far and wide. The people recognised His power and kingship as they spread branches of palm trees on the ground and cried out praises like, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” and “Hosanna in the Highest.”
They praised Him, they worshiped Him and they gave Him their adoration which He was due. They did not yet understand His teachings, but they praised Him for the many miraculous and wondrous works He had carried out. As it says in verses 17-18,
17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Laz’arus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead bore witness.
18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.
However the reaction of the Pharisees was interesting for a different reason and that bears looking at more deeply.
Futility of Opposition
The Pharisees watched Jesus return to Jerusalem and the procession with His crowd of followers in frustration. As the crowd laid their palm branches and called out Hosanna in the highest, the Pharisees anger and frustration grew.
We must remember they had been seeking Jesus to arrest Him and plotted to put Him to death. And yet here he was coming to them, adored, praise and worshiped by the people and the Pharisees were unable to do anything about it.
They commented to each other saying, “The Pharisees then said to one another, “You see that you can do nothing; look, the world has gone after him.” (Verse 19)
They felt they could do nothing. The reason why was because of all the people. They feared what the people may do to them if they laid hands on Jesus to arrest Him. We see this in other scriptures when the Pharisees sought to arrest Jesus. As an example, in Luke 20:19 it says, “The scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people; for they perceived that he had told this parable against them.”
They saw that it was futile to attempt to oppose Jesus but that did not prevent them continuing. Jesus would not be given into their hands until the time appointed, but in the mean time they could not silence the word of God nor the praise offered to Him. As we see in the Luke version of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem,
39 And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”
40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
The word of God and the praises due would not be silenced as Jesus shows dramatically here. And we know today that in spite of the eventual death of Jesus, His resurrection proved that the power of God would go on and His word, fame, gospel and teachings were spread throughout the world by His disciples down to this day.
The World Follows
We also see in that scripture that the Pharisees recognised that, “…the world has gone after him.” (Verse 19) The power of the word of God that Jesus taught was a breath of fresh air to the people.
Just as Moses brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and into freedom, so too Jesus promised freedom to those who followed Him. And it was a freedom that could not be matched for He offered freedom from sin and in the end, life eternal.
Who would not take such an opportunity when it was offered? Is it any wonder the people followed Him because it was not just His words, but the deeds He performed, the miracles, healings, signs and wonders that proved the validity and power of the teachings He brought.
And this is why the Pharisees were angry and opposed Jesus. Because they were about to lose their positions of power over the people. Little did they know, but they had become like the Egyptian oppressors all those years before. They were not doing as they should to teach, guide and help the people worship God.
Jesus upbraids the scribes and Pharisees saying, “They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger.” (Matthew 23:4) They should have been helping the people to be freed from their erroneous ways, but instead they became infatuated with power and kept the people in bondage.
But when Jesus came along preaching freedom from bondage, freedom from sin and freedom from death, then the world followed as the Pharisees themselves declared and they could do nothing. Is it any wonder the people cried out after Jesus praising Him saying, “Hosanna in the Highest?”
Satan’s River of Lies
But even though the word started in purity with Jesus and those first disciples, it has become tainted. Men would find a way to twist it and use it as a form of power over people just as the Pharisees had done before them. False teachers arose who preyed on the people and were driven by the devil himself who put lying words in their mouths.
And this was to be expected as it had been prophesied by the Apostle John in Revelation. Satan issued a river of lies to try and bring down the word of God, but it failed and will continue to fail for the Lord will protect the integrity of the gospel and His people. Note the following in Revelation 12:15-17.
15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with the flood.
16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river which the dragon had poured from his mouth.
17 Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.
The water the serpent poured from its mouth was the river of lies. As the living water came from the mouth of Jesus in His words of truth, the devil poured forth a river of false religion. Why? To try and drown and dilute the truth so that no one would be able to distinguish what is the truth of the gospel from the un-truths that the devil poured out to confuse and confound the people of God.
But he did not succeed. For we see in the same scripture that the rest of the people of the earth came to the help of the woman (who is the church), by swallowing the river of lies and preventing the truth being drowned in the falsehoods. Is it any wonder then that the devil was angry and “…went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.”
And what we see today is that the river of lies still exists because there are many things that are taught in the name of Jesus which have no scriptural foundation and do not lead to the freedom that was taught by Jesus and His disciples. The challenge we all face is to sift and sort the teachings that are out there to find the truth and reject the false teachings.
And it isn’t easy! Satan is the master of deception and some of his lies look like they are true…but are not. As individuals we must seek Jesus for ourself, read the word for ourself, ask Him for guidance and direction and to show us the right path for ourself. No-one else can do it for you and no-one else but Jesus can advocate for you. No priest, pastor, minister, clergy or whatever can save you. Their role should be to provide the teaching that will lead people to maturity, but even in the teachings of some of the churches today there is falsehood.
Why do I say this? Because the bible says it will be so. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:18-19,
18 For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it,
19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.
So there will be division to weed out those who follow the truth from those who follow error. It will happen from time to time. I believe this is why there are so many denominations, sects and splits in the church today.
But in the end we know that Jesus will save “the Church” (singular). There will not be denominations for there is only one “Woman,” one “Bride” and one true Church. It is our responsibility, regardless of what church we may attend today, to ensure we are part of that true church that is not based on the doctrine of man but the truth of the New Covenant and the words of Jesus Christ. Then we too shall praise Him saying “Hosanna in the Highest!”
(Photo sourced from ChristiansUnite.com)