Jewish Hopes For An Earthly King
The Illegal Trial Of Jesus Christ
Ms Suzy, Jurist in this court room:
For several hundred years before the birth of Christ, and the advent of His ministry, the priest and scribes had openly taught the Jews to look forward to the coming of a Messiah.
One who who would not only restore them to a position of power and prosperity, but would immediately re-establish the earthy kingdom of David, and thus relieve them of the heavy burdens of taxation so ruthlessly imposed upon them by their Roman conquerors.
And they believed this with all their hearts, and looked forward, each day, to the arrival of their earthly king.
By now, they had lost all pride as a captive people, and this Messianic expectation remained foremost in their hearts and minds.
Indeed, it served as their one consolation- something to look forward to- as they bemoaned the hardships and privations to which they had been for so long subjected.
Deprived of an earthly king, or a ruler of any kind, for that matter, their hearts seemed to long for the great day when He would arrive.
And their eagerness, at times, reached such a high pitch that they were often misled into the belief that their long expected Messiah had, in fact, come among them.
Still, they maintained the great hopes and high expectations that, ere long, he would redeem them from the bonds of slavery and give each a life of ease and splendor.
It will be recalled that when John the Baptist began his crusade for repentance and spoke so fervently of the coming day of judgement, the Jews, their hopes aflame within them, began to whisper to each other that this man was none other than the long-awaited Messiah.
But, when they made inquiry of John as to this, he quickly and firmly refuted their speculations, adding that he was merely a voice in the wilderness, preparing the way for the coming of the real Messiah!
Then, to add a note of encouragement, John said to them:
"I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who is coming after me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose."
Again, when Jesus had miraculously fed the five thousand men with five barley loafs and two small fishes, they crowed about Him and virtually demanded, then and there, that He be crowned their king.
But again He told them that His kingdom was not of this earth, and He bade them depart for their homes, as He went again, and alone, into the mountains to pray.
It may be said that the resistance of Jesus to such a plan and purpose- that of being their earthly king- had the definite effect of weakening the great miracle of the feeding which they had just witnessed; and was, no doubt, the first turning of the tide of popular enthusiasm for Him.
They felt that, if He were really the expected Messiah, He certainly should have let them, then and there, proclaim Him to be their earthly king!
The lot of the Jews was certainly not very happy.
Though the darkest hours of their humdrum existence there were ever present a full allotment of prophets and other religious leaders to constantly remind them that hope was not lost, and that, in the near future, God would take better care of them, and relieve them of their misery and constant disappointments.
What the Jews had hoped and prayed for was a Kingdom of God- not in righteousness and joy and peace in the Holy Ghost- but in meat and drink!
They cherished the thought of and insisted upon a kingdom on earth which would, beyond doubt, rival all others; and one which would also produce a miraculous triumph over their despised Roman rulers.
Therefore, on the morning after the day when their efforts to make Jesus their earthly king, we see the vast majority of His followers either remaining in their homes or going toward Jerusalem to celebrate the great Feast of the Passover.
They simply could not understand the refusal of the Christ to share their wild enthusiasm and thus be the means of fulfilling their highest hopes and fondest dreams.
Although Jesus repeatedly sought to explain to them that His kingdom was not of this earth, and that they should not labor for the meat which would perish, and should be more concerned about the meat which endureth unto everlasting, which the Son of God was able to give unto them.
They turned away from Him by the uncounted thousands, and refused to believe that which He so plainly taught and preached.
This was a totally different Messiah and Messianic Kingdom from that which they conceived and had wished for.
One can easily imagine the great joy of the hearts of those Jews when they thought there was a chance to proclaim a miracle-man as their earthly king.
This kind of a king, they reasoned, would cure all who suffered with physical ailments, and even bring the dead back to life!
With such a king there would be no death among the Jews; no pain, no suffering, no disappointments.
Life, in such circumstances, would be perfect for them!
The trouble with their reasoning and plans came from the fact that their only concern was for the carnal rather than the spiritual factors involved.
Jesus had assured them, upon more than one occasion:
"I am the bread of life", and to share in that food was to have everlasting life; but they, somehow, did not have the faith to believe what His words had said.
That, to them, would have had the effect of completely upturning all of their Messianic thoughts. It was more than they were willing to accept.
This, then, was the regrettable partings of the ways between Jesus and a vast majority of His followers- and they were, by now, fast turning into His bitterest enemies; all because they failed to understand the logic and truth of His wonderful words.
And it may be added that the disappointment, upon that occasion, was mutual, because their complete lack of faith and their desertion of Him in a great hour of His ministry well served to break the Heart of the Son of God!
Scripture tells the story in a few words:
"From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him."
Yes, the crucial hour of decision was past, and the hand upon the silent dial of destiny was plainly seen pointing to the hour of His death!
When consideration is given to the great turmoil and stress of the days to follow, it will be well to keep in mind that most of the trouble came from this hope of the Jews for an earthly king.
To the very last hours of His life on this earth, His closest followers-His disciples- still thought that He would consent to be their earthly king!