Passover Exchange

The gospels record that a large crowd had gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover festival and pressed in to see Jesus, who was riding in to the city on a donkey colt. The crowd laid down palm branches and their cloaks on the road for this highly anticipated Jesus, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord- the King of Israel!” Then we read that just a few days later, Jesus was in handcuffs tried as a prisoner by Pilate. Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate attempted to address the crowd, but this crowd was full of bloodlust. Three times, Pilate sought to ask the crowd why he should crucify Jesus, for he knew that Jesus was innocent. But the crowd, ignoring Pilate’s questions, continued to scream, “Crucify! Crucify him!” and their vehement, rabid shouting won out over reason. Pilate allowed the crowd to dictate his decision, and so he released Barabbas, the prisoner convicted of rebellion and murder, and handed Jesus, the Lamb of God, over to be crucified.

How did shouts of Hosanna switch to Crucify so quickly? The people so abruptly changed their minds about Jesus, yanking him off a throne and nailing him to a cross. Similarly, the Israelites who were led by Moses through the wilderness were just as swift to turn their backs on God. The Israelites enjoyed the actual presence of God in the form of a pillar of fire at night and of cloud during the day, and the daily miracle of manna from heaven. Moses took too long for them to return from the mountaintop, so they melted down their gold and turned it into an idol in the shape of a cow. In one week, they had abandoned their living God, choosing instead to worship a lifeless, golden calf they themselves had fashioned.

Last Sunday was Palm Sunday, and I woke up with this Bible verse in my head:

We all went away like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:6 (CSV)

We can read both stories and think that we would never have been that fickle to desert the Lord. We most likely have never carved a lump of wood or metal into an idol, nor were we an actual member of the screaming mob yelling, “Crucify!” I looked up the word iniquity and found lots of synonyms: abomination, crime, evildoing, heinousness, immorality, injustice, sinfulness, wickedness, unrighteousness, and wrongdoing. That verse states that we ALL have some of this in our hearts and have acted on it, too. We may even be weighed down by it, flogging ourselves mentally for a past we cannot undo, or living in a current addiction from which we cannot break free. Yet, Jesus isn’t angry or bitter or disgusted with us. He forgave us all for putting Him on that cross, not with an actual hammer and nail, but with our own iniquity.

We exchanged shouts of Hosanna for Crucify
We exchanged a savior for a murderer
We exchanged our living God for the golden image of a grass-eating ox

Jesus exchanged His life for our sin
Jesus exchanged our past for a future with Him
Jesus exchanged our guilt and shame for forgiveness and love that knows no bounds

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