From Cheers to Jeers

From Cheers to Jeers

Have you ever had a week that started out looking good and ended up being the worst you ever had? If so, Jesus can identify with that. He had one of those weeks. However, unlike us, He was not surprised by anything that happened that week. It all played out exactly as He and the Father planned.

His week began like this: John 12:12-13 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

By the end of the week, many of this cheering crowd became disenchanted with Jesus because He was not the kind of Messiah they expected or wanted. Instead of cheering Jesus, they began jeering Him and mocking Him. Then they had Him arrested. When Pilot, the Roman governor, gave them the choice of releasing Jesus or the criminal, Barabbas, they chose Barabbas. Pilot asked, “What shall I do with Jesus?” They cried, “Crucify Him!”

Luke 22:63-65 Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.

Perhaps you imagine that the soldiers who beat Jesus and mocked Him were unusually cruel, but they were no different from people today. Jesus is still the subject of jeering, beating, and mocking by those who do not know Him. They inflict their hatred of Jesus upon His followers. Every day, many Christians in Nigeria, China, and other places in the world are beaten, imprisoned, and killed for their faith.

Interestingly, Jesus was not mocked then—nor is He mocked now—for demonstrating compassion and concern for the poor and showing forgiveness to prostitutes and tax collectors who repented. Rather, He is mocked because He reveals the darkness that lies within each of us and because they refuse to come to His loving Light.

Today’s mockers would never dare to speak ill of Muhammad—to say nothing of the demanding Allah. If they did, they might have their throats slit, or their homes blown-up. Many have been murdered because they “offended” some self-appointed defender of Islam. Therefore, people are afraid to mock Muhammad.

Jesus is always a safe target for derision, because His followers are unlikely to retaliate, just as Jesus did not retaliate when false charges were brought against Him.

Even on the day of His crucifixion, Jesus was jeered when Jesus hung on a cross for the sins of others (not His own, for He had none). He responded, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Matthew 27:35-44 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

Contrary to their jeers, the mockers wouldn’t have believed in Jesus even had He come down from the cross, because they refused to believe all the other miracles He performed before their eyes.

Mocking God (which is unbelief) has serious consequences. Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

The primary reason people hate the Christian faith is that people hate the Author of our Faith. Jesus is a nice guy, but He exposes sin. The light of His presence illuminates the darkness in which we live, and that is always painful. The same is true of His followers. His Spirit in you angers the demons in them.

Jesus said in John 15:18-25 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

To follow Jesus is to identify with Him, and this requires us to die daily to ourselves, pick up a cross, and stay focused on Jesus. Therefore, we need to encourage one another. We need to pray for perseverance. Otherwise, the persecution will cause us to fall away and dishonor Jesus.

Speaking with the Father, Jesus said in John 17:14-17 “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”

Jesus clearly distinguished those in the world from those in His Kingdom. Unbelievers are in the world, and they will not be hated by the world because they pose no threat to those of the world. However, those who are born from above have identified with the Son of God, they have the Spirit of Christ abiding in them, and the world will hate them. Expect it.

1 John 3:13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.

Unfortunately, many seek an easy way to practice Christianity and avoid persecution. Perhaps they can perform some duty, or attend a particular service, or even recite a prayer, and that will fulfill the commands of God. However, Jesus was quite specific that only those born of God’s Spirit will enter Heaven. And those born of the Spirit will be persecuted, because the exhibit the character of Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:12-13 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

The Word of God declares all people are sinful. People hate that label, so they excuse their actions. For instance, there an effort to find a genetic excuse for our sinful choices. They are looking for a “gay gene,” or a “violent gene”, for examples, to excuse our sin. They are ignoring the fact that we all possess a “sin gene”.

However, we cannot hide behind excuses. On the other hand, we do not need to be angry at the One who exposes our sin. Jesus suffered the jeers and cruelty of the cross to atone for our sin and to deliver us from it.

John 3:16-21 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

The love of God, that motivated Him to give Himself for the sin of mankind, is a mystery to us. Yet, love is why He permitted Himself to be crucified. He gave His life as a sacrifice for sinful man. Then He raised Himself from the dead, giving us hope of eternal life.

John 10:17-18 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

From the beginning of the Church, those who had faith in Jesus and followed Him have suffered hostility in this world. They also refused to retaliate when they were persecuted or jeered. Instead they acted like Jesus and considered it an honor to suffer for the Name of Jesus.

1 Peter 2:21-24 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

As he continues encouraging those who follow Jesus, Peter raises and answers a significant question.

1 Peter 3:13-17 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

How can we endure unjust suffering? How do our brothers and sisters throughout the world today endure suffering? Christ’s strength becomes our strength by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Philippians 4:12-13 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

The heart of the Gospel message is in this powerful truth. Because the Son of God lives, we also live in Him, and He lives in us! Therefore, we have His power to do what He has commanded! We have God’s Spirit empowering us to be like Christ when we suffer.

This gift of life that He gives is called the New Birth for a reason. We are born again from above and into the Kingdom of God. If all we have is religion, no one will accept this Gospel. However, if we possess the life of Christ, it will be evident in joy, peace, humility, and confidence exhibited in the midst of a broken, fallen world. What is our confidence?

We have been born again of God’s Spirit in Christ. We have access to the throne of God, and we know that He hears our prayers, because they are offered through the Living Son of God who is seated at the Father’s right hand, interceding for us. Moreover, because He rose from the dead and ascended unto the Father, Jesus has sent His Spirit to dwell in each believer. We feel Him and hear Him.

John 14:15-17 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.”

The Holy Spirit lives within each believer, infusing into each life the power of the Risen Son of God. The child of God has power, not only to conquer evil, but also power to live a righteous life with hope in a hopeless world.

The glorious message of the Resurrection, which followed a week that went from cheers to jeers, is Jesus is Lord and He has conquered death, hell, and the grave! He is risen from the dead. And now, the power of the Resurrection gives hope to all who are born of His Spirit and into His heavenly family.

Have you been born again of God’s Spirit? Do you have the Spirit of God living within you? Is your life marked by His peace, with joy and with hope? Most of all, do you have the power of the Risen Christ abiding in you, enabling you to glorify God through a holy life? If not, you can have all this today by faith in Jesus Christ.

If you believe in your heart that Jesus is the Son of God, who atoned for your sin on the cross and has risen from the dead, then publicly confess your faith with your mouth. Then act on your faith by obeying what His Word tells us. Here is what it says:

Acts 2:37-39 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”