Expectations of Jesus

What are your expectations of Jesus?

On Psalm Sunday the crowds praised Jesus shouting “Hosanna in the highest”. But the following Friday they chanted “crucify him!”

How could a crowd of people have such a dramatic change of heart in just six days?

The short answer– Jesus did not meet their expectations.

When the crowds shouted “Hosanna” to Jesus, they did so because they believed he was the Messiah. The one who had come to save God’s people. But not just in a spiritual sense, but in a political sense. As New Testament scholar Dr. Craig Evans asserts, most Jews expected Jesus to overthrow the Romans government.  Evans, draws on commentary from the Dead Sea Scrolls to give us insight into the Messianic expectations of the Jews.   He points to the commentary on Isaiah 10:34-11:5, which speaks of the Messiah as the “Branch of David, who will destroy Israel’s enemies, [specially] the Romans (called the “Kittim”).”[1] And also the commentary on Isaiah 10:34-11:1 which says, “it is said that [the Messiah] will put to death the “king of the Kittim,” or the Roman emperor.”[2]

In the minds of the crowd, Jesus as the Messiah, had come to set up God’s kingdom on earth. So imagine their surprise when six days later they saw Jesus bound in chains, standing as a prisoner before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. For them, in that moment, it was no longer possible that Jesus could be the Messiah. Because how could God’s chosen king be in Romans shackles? Feeling hurt and likely very hopeless, their hearts became hard, and they turned on Jesus. And thus, chanted for his crucifixion.

The thing is, the crowd’s expectations of Jesus were incomplete. Their minds were set on the promised political victory of the Messiah and not the promised suffering of the Messiah. They were not thinking about messianic passages such as Isaiah 53:3-5:

3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Because the Palm Sunday crowds did not include Isaiah 53 in their expectations of the Messiah, they changed from worshipers of Jesus to enemies of Jesus—in just six days.

All of us have certain expectations of Jesus. But are those expectations complete? In parts of our life are we in danger of moving from worshipers of Jesus to enemies of Jesus, because it feels like Jesus is not meeting our expectations?

We must remember that Jesus did come to meet our expectations, but his. And to the degree that our expectations for him are different than his expectations, is to the degree that we will no longer shout “Hosanna” but instead “crucify him”.