Why Did the Crowd Turn on Jesus?

By   •   April 17, 2011

Q: During Lent, I’ve been reading in the Bible about the last weeks of Jesus’ life, and I’ve been puzzled by something. Why did the crowds turn against Jesus so quickly? One week they welcomed Him, and the next week they demanded He be crucified.

Billy Graham’s Answer: First, let me commend you for taking time during the weeks leading up to Easter to read from the Bible about Jesus’ final days. No events in human history were more important than Jesus’ death and resurrection, and yet many people (even Christians) never take time to study them.

Today, Christians around the world are celebrating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (which we usually call “Palm Sunday,” because the crowd welcomed Him by spreading palm branches in His path). Those who greeted Him were convinced He was the Messiah (or “anointed one”), sent by God to establish His Kingdom on earth.

It must have been a dramatic sight as Jesus approached Jerusalem on a donkey (which was a sign of His humility). The Bible says that “the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices … ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!'” (Luke 19:37-38). Even those who weren’t part of that welcoming crowd listened eagerly to His teaching during the next few days.

But not everyone in Jerusalem welcomed Him; the very next verse says that “the whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?'” But soon many turned against Jesus and demanded His death: “‘What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?’ Pilate asked. They all answered, ‘Crucify him!'” (Matthew 27:22).

These weren’t necessarily the same people who had welcomed Him—but the reversal is still striking. Were they disappointed because He refused to establish an earthly political kingdom? Probably. They may also have disliked His demand that they repent.

Where would you have been on that first Palm Sunday? Among the disciples who welcomed Him—or among the skeptical crowds? It’s easy to condemn those who condemned Jesus—but would we have acted any differently? We too are sinners, and we too have rebelled against God.

But the central message of Easter is that God still loves us, and because of Christ we can be forgiven. He came for one reason: “Christ died for sins once for all … to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). May you welcome Him into your life during this holy season.

Follow the Steps to Peace online to learn about Jesus or recommit your life to Him.

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  1. Roy says:

    Could it be that the crowd all along had misunderstood what JESUS was about?? They thought HE was the Messiah who was going to defeat the Romans and at last free the Jews. But then HE went to the temple and attacked the Jewish money makers. HE the ‘Messiah’ was attacking HIS people not their rulers the Roman.

  2. Vera says:

    The answer is Christ and our belief in him and histeachings. It's as simple as that. He gives usstrength to fight any battle and win. His words are as true as they were 2000 years ago, and with God on our side, who can be against us. The POWER

  3. Dave says:

    The trial of Jesus was held at night because the people in power were in fear of the public.


    I love Billy with all my heart for his teachings are rich in blessing and has a lot of spirituality. i wish i could bigin like him and grow too in spirit. in fact, he is my role model. i am blessed indeed

  5. Malcolm says:

    Jesus knew even as he acknowledged the adoring crowd that his time among us was nearly over. That suffering and earthly death were but one short week away. Which one of us would have continued that journey to Jerusalem and not fled to safety.

  6. Phyllis says:

    I agree with Billy that the two crowds –one adoring, one condemning–were not necessarily the same citizens. The first crowd, the daylight crowd, traveled in the day, with their children and family members to get to wherever they planned to observe Passover. I posit that they were in bed asleep as the infamous trial began.The condemning group sound to be mostly men–no children, and only one woman mentioned. These seem the kind of men who carouse the night “spots” looking for the political plots and, finding one, enjoying the trial. Why are they awake in the middle of the night; they were he discontented rabble that never sleep.

  7. Mark says:

    To understand His meaning of forgiveness is to understand His meaning of love.

  8. ellen says:

    Palm Sunday, the 1st day of lent. Some people consider the holy week is just the time to reflect/repent.. RC believes that palms blessed with holy water can cast or avoid demons to come in their homes..while we Christians are reminded of God's humility and kindness to us sinners. We Christians also are reminded to prepare ourselves on His second coming thus we must repent..repent..as our sins are forgiven then we belong to His Kingdom. The bride is coming so we must prepare to welcome the bride..the coming of the Kingdom…then Thy will be done on earth as it is n heaven..

  9. Charles, Jacksonville says:

    I am very grateful for the sacrifice and for Jesus' life he served in humble earthly walking amongst those who both loved him and hated him. He was a lesson in great humility. I am thankful for God's gift of covering our sins but have always had a child like sadness that he had to endure the cross to do this. Thank you for this story, and your ministry.

  10. Tammy says:

    I love Billy Graham. I watched the clip and was much blessed. The message of the Resurrection is the most powerful of all. And even though Billy Graham preached this so many years ago, certainly his works do follow him. Especially since we can watch what was preached back when he was a new young preacher and be blessed by his preaching of the Resurrection again 🙂