Passion Week V

As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: “BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:37-40 NASB)

I noticed we have either two crowds (disciples and travelers), or one crowd with interlopers (disciples with Pharisee interlopers).  Along through Luke I have contended that the Pharisees with whom Jesus is in dialogue as He moves about are actually disciples of His; or at least followers.  If that was true, at this point these wish to distance themselves from Jesus’ followers.  Have these Pharisees “repented” from following Jesus?

First off, “crowd” in verse 37 and “crowd” in verse 39 are actually different words.  Before you get confused, they aren’t related to each other either.  One refers to a “bunch of somethings” in other words, a subset of a larger category, hence “crowd of disciples”.  The other is a noun, a complete category.  At least I thought that was the case. It’s nice theory, but it’s wrong.  I looked it up thinking I had found something possibly profound, and easily disproved it.  It happens to me a lot actually.

The two are different words, but essentially synonymous; at least as they refer to crowds of people.  I believe that Luke is using a literary device at this point which serves two purposes.  One, it avoids repetition, and two, it differentiates between two “crowds”.  One crowd is the disciples of Jesus, the other is the crowd heading into Jerusalem.  The Pharisees are from the second group.  So now I ask, were the Pharisees from the first crowd, and now have decided to distance themselves from the disciples?

I don’t think so.  I think, because of how their plea with Jesus is worded, that they simply are going along at the same time, and are alarmed at the clearly “messianic” (i.e. royal) quality of the disciples singing.  They’re concerned it may cause a riot or worse during the festival.  But I think there may have also been other Pharisees who have traveled with Jesus, who may have also been among those praising God as they entered Jerusalem.  Maybe.  It’s hard to say because I don’t know if they had “jackets” or something designating them as Pharisees.  Or whether they had the freedom to simply drop everything and follow Jesus all over.  I simply don’t know.  It didn’t slow Peter and others down, so maybe it didn’t slow them down either.  But Luke doesn’t say.

The point I’m making here is that incidental crowds versus those crowds of followers/disciples have different perspectives.  They’re both crowds, but not gathered for the same purpose.  This gets at “popularity”, being “politically correct”, and wanting to avoid offending people.  The good news of salvation through Jesus Christ is offensive.  But not to the crowd following Him.  It’s offensive to the incidental crowd who happens to coexisting with the crowd following Him.  I think sometimes we may be trying to please the wrong crowd.  Remember that the aroma of the gospel is life to us and death to them (2 Corinthians 2:14-17).

I get that we can be offensive within the body  of our Master.  This happens all the time.  And at times people are simply loveless, acting out of their hurt and anger instead of the love they have been shown.  I get that, and I confess, have done that.  But this isn’t the only time people are offended.  There are also some who are offended out of selfishness, self-centered sense of entitlement, and/or pride.  Love is said to “cover all things”.  It’s a strange quality in 1 Corinthians 13:7 usually translated as “endures” or “bears”.  However it’s translated I believe it relates to the quality of love mentioned earlier of not accounting wrongs.  I think true mature followers of Jesus don’t become offended, but they can be considered offensive to others.

There are two crowds juxtaposed with Jesus and His followers.  We choose the crowd with whom we flow. And either crowd can distract us from our Master, Jesus.  The challenge is to be followers of Jesus, not of either crowd.  Together, we will then form a crowd unified by One.  Let the other crowd ask us to pipe down, tell us to take it somewhere else, and quit being so offensive.  It’s fine to ask, but we are to obey our Master.  It would be really embarrassing to have the rocks cry out in the praise we fail to give because we fear the wrong master.

Anyway, that’s my view through this knothole this morning.  What do you see through the fence in your knothole?

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Matt Brumage

Educated for Christian ministry, but currently working in the business world.

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