From Empire to Execution in Four Days – Why Jesus Is Rejected

Napoleon moved with his army through Switzerland. People hailed him everywhere with thunderous applause and cheers. He seemed unimpressed. Someone said, “Isn’t it great, this roaring support of the people?” Napoleon replied, “The same people cheering for me today would cheer just as loudly at my execution.”

When Jesus showed his glory, people liked him. When He fed 5000, the crowd wanted to “take Him by force to make Him king.” (John 6:15) When He paraded into Jerusalem in the traditional way of kings, crowds blessed him as “the King of Israel!” (John 12.13) That was Palm Sunday. By Thursday, they cried, “Crucify him!” Like Napoleon said.

When Jesus hid his glory, people hated him. He told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world; [otherwise] my servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered.” (John 18:36) No fight, no power, no glory. The chief priests said, “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15)

When Pilate sent Jesus to Herod Antipas, at first Herod was glad to see him. “He was hoping to see some sign done by him.” (Luke 23:8) Jesus showed him no sign. Because he saw no glory in Jesus, “Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe.” (Luke 23:11)

Pilate’s soldiers also mocked Jesus. Each mockery was directed against his kingship. They clothed him with a purple robe, twisted a crown of thorns, put the crown on his head, put a reed in his right hand like a scepter, bowed the knee before him, saluted him with “Hail, King of the Jews,” worshiped him in mock worship, struck him with their hands, and spit on him. They struck him on the head with a scepter-like reed showing themselves as kings more than he was.

When the Romans crucified a criminal, they wrote the condemnation on a placard, such as, Traitor, Insurrectionist, or Assassin. On Jesus’ placard they wrote, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Such shame, to think you are a king and be so weak. They wrote it in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. Let everyone read the shame.

At the cross, people mocked Jesus as a king without glory. “If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.” (Matthew 27:42) They were like Herod. They demanded glory.

Isaiah prophesied of this, “Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.” (Isaiah 45:15) The power and glory, wisdom and holiness of God were hidden deeply under their opposites, weakness and shame, foolishness and guilt. The Cross is the opposite of glory. The Suffering Servant is the opposite of a king. He hides, suffers, and serves to be our Savior.

Jesus endured our rejection of him that we might have his acceptance with the Father. On the basis of Christ’s blood, we receive “his grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6)

About T. R. Halvorson

T. R. Halvorson was born in Sidney, Montana on July 14, 1953, baptized at Pella Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sidney, Montana on November 8, 1953, and confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Williston, North Dakota in 1968. He and his wife, Marilyn, are members of Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Sidney, Montana. They have three sons and six grandchildren. T. R. farms at Wildrose, North Dakota, and is Deputy County Attorney in Sidney, Montana. He has been a computer programmer; and an author, conference speaker, instructor, and consultant to industry in online legal information. He is among the authors of the religion column in the Sidney Herald at Sidney, Montana. He is the Editor of


From Empire to Execution in Four Days – Why Jesus Is Rejected — 4 Comments

  1. I really don’t think these were the same people at all. The trial before the Jews was at night. They had Jesus on Pilate’s doorstep first thing in the morning and on the cross by 9:00 AM. I think the timing was intentional so that those who had hailed him as king would NOT be present during his illegal nighttime trial by the Sanhedrin or by Pilate. By the time the city, which now teemed with Passover pilgrims, was aroused and moving, Jesus was on the cross. When they hailed Him as King on Palm Sunday, I’m pretty sure they were imagining a different kind of king. But I’m also confident that the rabble who called for his crucifixion were plants of the Jewish leadership who had called for His death long before the trials.

  2. @Bruce Wurdeman #1

    I really don’t think these were the same people at all

    We weren’t there either, but I agree. The Jewish leadership needed a crowd they could control, a mob they could direct, on Good Friday. They couldn’t control the Palm Sunday people. (If they thought they could, they wouldn’t have complained about them.)

  3. T.R.
    From Thursday evening to Friday morning, Scripture records the following:
    Jesus is arrested in the Garden and taken to Caiaphas’ house (or Annas first, according to John?)
    His trial takes place before the Sanhedrin at night. Jewish trials at night were against their own laws, by the way.
    Early Friday morning, Jesus is taken to the Praetorium (Fortress Antonio) to appear before Pilate.
    Pilate sends him to Herod because He was a Galilean and Herod was apparently in Jerusalem for the Passover.
    Herod sends him back to Pilate
    Pilate allows his execution
    He carries His own cross part way to Golgatha–Simon of Cyrene carries it the rest of the way
    The crucifixion takes place at 9:00 AM (third hour) according to Mark.
    I’m saying it was a kangaroo court and a rush to judgement to avoid having the people who greeted him on Palm Sunday involved in this thing at all. Those who cried, “Crucify Him!” were plants by the Jewish leadership.
    Just as an aside, we are also left with the question of what happened to Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea–both were members of the Sanhedrin. Was all this done during the wee hours of the morning to also avoid input from these two Jesus sympathizers?
    This is how I conclude that the people who hailed Him as Son of David on Sunday were not the same ones calling for his death outside Pilate’s Jerusalem residence.

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