When Christ entered Jerusalem in triumph, he was coming from his ministry in the Galilean countryside. In proclaiming the coming Kingdom of God, Jesus preached and taught the crowds; he healed the sick and raised the dead; he performed signs and wonders. But in everything he did, he always touched something deep in his listeners hearts. They have never heard nor seen anything like this before.
His message of LOVE was radical as it was revolutionary. The Jews said, “Tooth for a tooth” which was actually a call for commensurate justice. Jesus said “Forgive.” The Jews strove to be good and do good. Jesus challenged his listeners to go the extra mile, “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” It was the norm for Jews to do good for those who do them good. Jesus tells his disciples, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for those who speak evil about you, and persecute you.”
In this scene from Jesus Christ Superstar, Simon the Zealot is excited at all the excitement and devotion that Jesus was generating among the people:
There must be over fifty thousand
Screaming love and more for you.
And everyone of fifty thousand
Would do whatever you asked them to.
Keep them yelling their devotion,
But add a touch of hate at Rome.
You will rise to a greater power.
We will win ourselves a home.
You’ll get the power and the glory
For ever and ever and ever
Forever Amen! Amen! Amen!
The Zealots were a political movement in 1st-century Second Temple Judaism, which sought to incite the people of Judea Province to rebel against the Roman Empire and expel the Romans from the Holy Land by force of arms. The Roman authorities and the Jewish religious leaders must have seen Jesus as part of this rebellion. Jesus preached against a lot of the common religious practices then. The Sabbath was sacrosanct to the Jews and no work was allowed to be done on that day. Jesus healed people even on the Sabbath and instructed his disciples to gather grains for food. Jews were very scrupulous about ritual purity. they did not socialize not consort with those who were ritually unclean less they themselves would become unclean. These included the sick (like lepers and women with hemorrhagic disease), public sinners (like prostitutes and tax collectors), or Gentiles (like the hated Samaritans). These were people that Jesus mixed up and had dinner with.
In the end, he condemned to death because he was indeed a rebel and a revolutionary, an image of Jesus that I loved to nurse and harbor in my younger years.