Jesus rides into Jerusalem before one the biggest holidays (holy days). He is riding on the back of a borrowed donkey, being treated like a conquering King. People are rolling out the red carpet for him, made of their coats and palm leaves. (When was the last time you threw your Sunday Go To Meeting Clothes on the mud street for a donkey to stroll over?) The crowd is cheering and it seems as if the whole entire city is going to vote for this guy come election time.
Before the end of the same week, a fickle public cries for the same man’s execution. The same crowd begs for a convicted murder to go scot free rather than the guy who was given a ticker tape parade 5 days before. Nobody seems to step back and say, “Hey, didn’t we just love this guy?”
Was it that everyone changed their mind, or was it that portions of the crowd felt freer to cheer and shout? When the referees of religion moved The Chains Of Public Opinion further down the field, suddenly it was easier to jeer for Jesus rather than cheer. I’m sure there were plenty of people who went with the flow and were happy to have whatever opinion had been given to them. We certainly see that today. I think there were also families who had cheered on Palm Sunday, but sat their looking anxious, scared and silent on Good Friday.
I see some parallels with today. Leaving aside the Presidential election, (we have an upcoming podcast episode devoted to that coming up after Easter) the tide is definitely shifting as to public opinion about Christ and His Church today. The Referees of What Is Good have been moving The Chains Of Public Opinion down the field again. Once again it is so much easier to jeer Jesus than to cheer for him. And I feel a lot of time like sitting back, feeling anxious, scared and silent.
I’ll confess, I’m in one of those cycles right now. There is a new book out right now that lays out the shift in public opinion against Christianity. And not in the head for the hills, they approved gay marriage kind of way either. (Please reference previous podcasts where I point out how much of a fan I am not of that way of thinking) But Christianity is seen as at best irrelevant and at worst dangerous and extremist. I haven’t read the book yet, and I’ll give you guys a more detailed review when I do. You can listen to the Phil Vischer Podcast here where they interview the authors.
So, what do I do when I’m feeling sad and blue? I have a little talk with Jesus. I read The Bible. And I pray about it. Jesus knows a thing or two about having public opinion swing against you. When I asked Jesus about it in prayer, the last part of The Beatitudes popped into my head.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
There are also several verses written by Peter, who knew a thing or two about being on the wrong end of public opinion.
1 Peter 1:6-9 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
And these verses were written by folks who had suffered real Blood And Guts persecution, not the Imagined Might Happen Some Time In The Future persecution I’m currently enjoying. That perspective blew through my soul, blowing away the dark clouds and letting me enjoy the blue sky and sunshine again.
Public opinion will shift and change, but we must stick with the only Eternal Choice. With our feet on The Rock, we can cheer for Jesus despite the mood of the crowd. Even if it’s just our voice. Especially if it’s just our voice. Isn’t He worth it? If he’s not, maybe you should have your own little talk with Jesus.