Jesus goes from hero to villain. Why?


Jesus rode a donkey into the city and was welcomed as some kind of hero by the Jews waving palm branches. Soon thereafter they turned against him and had him crucified. What changed their minds so drastically in such a short time. Doesn’t make the story of his arrival very believable. What could he have done to make him lose all his support so suddenly??


Why is fickle and changing human nature unbelievable? We aren’t angels, and we have a self interested take on the world - homo curvatus in se.


The crowds thought he was going to be some kind of military Messiah and free them from Roman rule. That is why they showered him with appreciation at his entrance.

He showed them he was not that kind of Messiah, rather the Son of God, who wanted people to repent of their sins, love their fellow man, and worship God with their whole hearts. He threw out the moneylenders in the temple and preached against the Jewish religious leaders who were hypocrites and in the pockets of the Romans.

But people are very fickle anyway, today as well as then. People will turn on a dime against a person they once adored. Especially in a crowd situation, people are non-rational and volatile.


Elites. I think Josephus speaks of ‘leading men’. The Sanhedrin arrested, tried him and turned him over to Romans demanding his execution. As for the popular support he had even his immediate disciples abandoned him out of fear.


The entire city of Jerusalem wasn’t present at Palm Sunday or at Jesus’ trial. It was a crowd.


This, probably. And there is some thinking that the crowd that welcomed him may have included a lot of Galileans also on pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover, who were from where Jesus did most of his ministry. The people of Jerusalem may have not been as warm, but perhaps not openly hostile at the time, and maybe curious. But he was later charged with blasphemy, and human crowds are often very fickle.


Ancient Judaism was not homogenous. Many different sects existed.
We see the same today in major religions where you will find branches that do things such as stoning your car if you happen to drive it through their neighborhood on a Saturday.

My thinking is that the people who welcomed Jesus were not the same ones who demanded His death in front of Pilate. The latter were from extremist sects that may have fancied themselves as a sort of “religious police.”
The Jewish religious leaders seem to have been against Jesus from the beginning of His ministry and may have be responsible for inciting these fanatics against Him.


It may not have been such a short time since palms were onl available in the autumn harvest and Passover was in the spring.


Not living up to your followers expectations has ALWAYS been grounds for a major reversal of fortune.

Ciaphus was the main problem in this story - he wanted Jesus to be a military savior, when he relized he was ‘just another religious messiah’ (there were a lot roaming Judea back then) then he feared reprisal from Rome and made Jesus the fall guy.


I’m sure there were people at the time (just like there are today) who treat life like a series of rock concerts. They aren’t attracted so much to beliefs and convictions but to the next big deal, followed by the next big deal, in order to get a rush and a (counterfeit) sense of belonging and meaning. So they might be praising a miracle worker on one day and spitting on him the next day, not necessarily out of any deep rooted change in convictions, but because they never really had convictions in the first place.

Miracles are the most inferior of all goods because they shock belief into a person and are (often) ineffective are cultivating virtue and a spirit of sacrifice in a person. God used them in history of course for the benefit of his kingdom, and he still uses them today, but they are his least favorite tool and only performed very, very circumstantially. Many people that were warm towards Jesus would have been warm on account of miracles, which would not be a strong anchor to hold onto because on account of him working miracles, Jesus was useful to them, but not necessarily Someone to be loved, because loving somebody means being willing to sacrifice for them. We see in the Gospels the story about Jesus healing the lepers, and only one of them returning to him.

It’s hard to believe that among the original apostles, only one of them followed him to Calvary. Most of the people that accompanied him were the women: Mary number one, two and three. Why? Women often had a shortcut to Jesus because they were small, treated with prejudice, and marginalized, and so in many ways they more intuitively “knew the score” of the Gospel better than the apostles did, who were experiencing the sublimity of Jesus’ divine power and being prepared - and to some extent pampered - to become his priesthood. God deliberately pampers us for a little while for us to grow our bones and muscles, to grow in our affection and early spiritual life, but sooner or later, the training wheels are taken away. It wasn’t a state that was meant to last forever. After the sobering events of the crucifixion the apostles, and many other of Jesus’ followers, would become stronger in the faith than ever and be the saints and martyrs we know today.

Not everybody in the crowd was happy to see Jesus die though. There were people weeping for him as well. The ones at the trial would have been those loyal to the corrupt clerics, many of whom weren’t even “valid” (to use a contemporary term) because they had bought their way into the position.


Hi, Clark!

…you are confusing Believers (Jesus’ Followers) and those who thirsted for the Truth (as well as the sheepish crowds) with the religious leaders of Israel.

There are several instances where Scriptures speaks to this ensuing conflict (those who are thirsting for the Knowledge of God and the Jewish religious who rejected Jesus). There’s one salient moment where this issue is demonstrated:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]1 One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. 2 “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?” 3 He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me: 4 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?” 5 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.” 8 Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

(St. Luke 20:1-8)
The religious Jews understood that they had a clear disadvantage if they were to directly attack (cause harm) Jesus in the presence of the crowds… it is the reason why they had secret meetings and sent spies and hecklers to derail Jesus’ Missionary Works:

3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 5 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”

(St. Matthew 26:3-5)
We also have Christ’s own repudiation of their offensive, secretive, and cowardly act (my insinuations, not Christ’s):

47 As he yet spoke, behold Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the ancients of the people.

55 In that same hour Jesus said to the multitudes: You are come out as it were to a robber with swords and clubs to apprehend me. I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you laid not hands on me.

56 Now all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then the disciples all leaving him, fled. 57 But they holding Jesus led him to Caiphas the high priest, where the scribes and the ancients were assembled.

(St. Matthew 26:47, 55-57)
…in modern times we have people who take advantage of events to promote their hate and their distorted sense of justice as they manipulate and incite well-intended citizens to riots and unlawful conduct… I suspect that people have been manipulated since that first Beginnings at Eden… seemingly benign persons can be compelled to put their worst foot forward–even in the name of goodness and decency. Jesus’ contemporaries were no better or worse… simply equally handicapped!

Maran atha!




Palm fronds are available ALL YEAR ROUND.


Hi, TK!

…I think that we must make a distinction here… Jesus’ Followers would have been persecuted and imprisoned soon after Jesus’ arrest… this has always been the iron fist of states (round them all up–even if they are only associated); it is the reason why the disciples gathered, in fear, behind closed doors…

How far did St. Peter follow it is not made known; yet, St. John was a privileged person because he was known to the high priest (family/business ties) and privilege often comes with blinders (he would not have been suspected a Follower and those who would suspect would think twice before pointing fingers since he had some sort of status/protection).

Scriptures attest to this very issue as St. John uses his “status” to get the gates opened for St. Peter… and St. Peter is, almost immediately, held as suspect…

Further, women were not visible in the culture of the day; they would be seen as inconsequential and not as possible fanatics and trouble makers–it would be interesting to know if there had been some particular practice that allowed women to tend to the final hours of the crucified persons…

Still, I suspect that not many of us would have the valor to risk life or limbs in an obstinate effort to remain at the Master’s side…

Maran atha!



Thank you but you dont need to shout.

I think I heard that on a documentary so I dont really have a good source.
But the tradition is to wave palm leaves for Sukkot, in the autumn. Mature palm leaves may not be available in the spring time.


First off, it’s possible that we’re looking at two different crowds.

IMHO the people who praised Jesus during Palm Sunday would have been the Galilean pilgrims and those who witnessed the raising of Lazarus and believed in Him. Note that Luke (19:37) says that the people who greeted Jesus were the “whole crowd of the disciples.” In fact, you could say that the triumphal entry was a conscious act of public demonstration by Jesus and His followers to make a statement (He did tell His disciples to get the donkey).

Meanwhile, the Good Friday ‘crowd’ (we probably shouldn’t be thinking of a big ‘cast of thousands’ gathering here) who appears before Pilate meanwhile were the chief priests’ and the aristocrats’ lackeys - people under the sway of the authorities who were perhaps bribed to become seat fillers.

Note, the chief priests bring Jesus to Pilate “early in the morning,” when the pilgrims would have still been sleeping (many of these folks would have stayed in tents outside the city) and could not do anything to save Jesus. By the time they woke up, the ‘crowd’ (= the chief priests, their lackeys and whoever else they paid to show up) would have already demanded for His death.

If anything, Jesus was more popular in the Galilee than He was in Judaea and Jerusalem anyway (if the gospels are of any indication). Note that the synoptics - which focus on Jesus’ ministry up north in the Galilee - pretty much shows Him being mostly positively received there. By contrast, the gospel of John portrays Jesus having an antagonistic relationship with many of “the Jews” (not the Jewish people as a whole of course, but ‘the Judaeans’ - the people of Judaea Province and the authorities therein) from early on in His ministry, which in John lasts for around three Passovers (i.e. more than two years). That’s a lot of time for tension to build up.


I have heard this theory too, but I don’t really buy it.

First off, only John specifies the palm branches. Matthew and Mark both say that the people “spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road” (Matt. 21:8) without specifying which trees they cut it from, while Luke doesn’t mention the branches at all, just the cloaks.

Of course, some say that the synoptics not specifying palm branches was part of a conscious decision by the synoptic evangelists to remove the supposed original autumn context of the triumphal entry.

But even so, I don’t think that palm branches automatically means Sukkot. Palm fronds at the time was a Jewish national symbol: Jewish coins made during the Great Revolt (AD 67-70) and Bar Kochba Revolt (AD 132-135) contain images of palms. Sukkot imagery was used at the time in celebratory and nationalistic (messianic) contexts even if it was not actually Sukkot.


This. Notice that Jesus was a hero mostly outside of Jerusalem. A foreshadowing of His death is seen in John 8:57-59

The Jews then said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.

and in John 10:22-33

It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone me?” The Jews answered him, “We stone you for no good work but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

Let us look at the history of prophets in Jerusalem - where the prophets have been killed. As part of His seven-fold condemnation of the Pharisees, we have Matthew 23:29-38

“Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; that build the sepulchres of the prophets, and adorn the monuments of the just, And say: If we had been in the days of our Fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore you are witnesses against yourselves, that you are the sons of them that killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. You serpents, generation of vipers, how will you flee from the judgment of hell? Therefore behold I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you will put to death and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city: That upon you may come all the just blood that hath been shed upon the earth, from the blood of Abel the just, even unto the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachias, whom you killed between the temple and the altar. Amen I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldest not? Behold, your house shall be left to you, desolate.”

And… Luke 13:33-34

“Nevertheless I must walk to day and to morrow, and the day following, because it cannot be that a prophet perish, out of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent to thee, how often would I have gathered thy children as the bird doth her brood under her wings, and thou wouldest not?”

Being the ultimate Prophet, how could He have escaped death in the city? Rather, He “set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51) - knowing that He would be killed there. This same Divine mission is seen in the garden at Gethsemane, when He said “Rise, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.” (Matthew 26:46, Luke 14:42)


You had two groups of Jews in the city, one that believed he was the king of Israel and one that did not believe he was the king of Israel.


A bit of a sidetrack, but something about the ‘messianic expectation’ at the time of Jesus.

It’s common to speak of ‘messianic expectation’ or ‘messianism’, but in reality (as in many other issues) different people had different opinions. Many Jews did as far as we know expect a kind of divinely-wrought deliverance and/or final judgment to happen in the future, but these cannot all be reduced into a single kind of ‘messianic expectation’. These ‘messianic expectations’ themselves are just a subcategory to the actual belief in God’s intervention to restore Israel to its former glory.

Some Jews did expect a Davidic, kingly and/or warrior messiah who will destroy all wicked people and might perhaps reestablish an independent Jewish kingdom. But there were also people who expected a messiah who will be a “prophet like unto Moses” or a messiah who will be a priest like Aaron. After all, prophets, priests and kings were the ones who received an anointing in ancient Israel.*

It wasn’t even established that there will be only one messiah. The Qumran Community (who may or may not have been Essenes) for example expected two to appear: one a Davidic king and one an Aaronic priest, with the Aaronic priestly messiah being the superior of the two. (There’s also the Prophet mentioned in some texts, so that’s like, three messianic figures.)

In fact, the exact nature of the anointed one was up for debate: will he be a man (who might get a very long life one he gets to ruling over Israel but will still die in the end)? Or an angel? Or a semi-divine being (i.e. close to God but not exactly God)? Heck, it wasn’t even universal whether there will be a literal ‘anointed’ figure: maybe God’s deliverance will manifest itself in a more abstract way, say, some kind of miraculous sign (Jerusalem’s walls falling down, the river Jordan drying up, that sort of thing) or a spark of courage that will inspire all the people to revolt against the oppressors.

  • Since we Christians believe that Jesus is priest, prophet and king, I guess you could say that God gave the people the full package. :smiley:


I think the crowd really was shouting for the King of Israel and were astonished when Jesus turned out not to be a nationalistic ruler. I don’t believe in the two crowd theory.

“The crowds shout Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! (v. 13). The cry of Hosanna! is a Hebrew word (hoshi`ah-na) that had become a greeting or shout of praise but that actually meant “Save!” or “Help!” (an intensive form of imperative). Not surprisingly, forms of this word were used to address the king with a need (cf. 2 Sam 14:4; 2 Kings 6:26). Furthermore, the palm branches the people carry are symbolic of a victorious ruler (cf. 1 Macc 13:51; 2 Macc 10:7; 14:4). Indeed, in an apocalyptic text from the Maccabean era, palms are mentioned in association with the coming of the messianic salvation on the Mount of Olives (Testament of Naphtali 5). The cry of Hosanna! and the palm branches are in themselves somewhat ambiguous, but their import is made clear as the crowd adds a further line, Blessed is the King of Israel! (v. 13). Clearly they see in Jesus the answer to their nationalistic, messianic hopes. Earlier a crowd had wanted to make Jesus king (6:15), and now this crowd is recognizing him as king in the city of the great King. Here is the great dream of a Davidic ruler who would come and liberate Israel, establishing peace and subduing the Gentiles (cf. Psalms of Solomon 17:21-25).”

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