george hancock stefanIn the place where I grew up, there used to be a statement that you can be a leader in your village and a nobody in the city. It was one of those statements that was considered a tidbit of wisdom from the elders, but also a fear that one will be lost in the big, evil city.

I find that the brothers of Jesus think the same way. Jesus was well-known in their hometown, but his ministry would go beyond that. The majority of the ministry of Jesus is in Judea. He is familiar with Jerusalem because He goes there with his parents when he is twelve years old. He mesmerizes the teachers of the law with his knowledge and tells his parents that His Heavenly Father’s business was to be in the Temple in Jerusalem. Yet He goes home with his parents and submits himself to them for the next 18 years.

The Pharisees had a very different opinion about the Galileans than Jesus did. Pharisees considered the Galileans and the Judeans unlearned, unclean, and unsophisticated. They did not know how to have lengthy discourses, they did not know how to behave, and they were ignorant of all the things that distinguished the Pharisees. Yet by staying in Galilee, Jesus confronted the Pharisees and proclaimed that that they did not do their job. They were the teachers and it was their responsibility to teach the masses instead of considering them dumb. Jesus took the time to touch, to ask questions, to answer the questions of the simple, and to train the disciples to become like Him.

Jesus also loved the city and in the Sermon on the Mount, He tells the multitude not to swear by Jerusalem because it is the city of the great King. He tells others that He tried to gather the city of Jerusalem to himself as the chicken tries to gather her chicks, but they refused to come.

In the final week, He goes to Jerusalem because it is His time to confront the leadership of the city. He tells them that He cannot die in any place other than this city called Jerusalem. He connects the murdering of all the prophets from Abel to Zechariah to this city. This city could not stand the truth and it murdered one the prophets in the courtyard of the Temple. The Sanhedrin (the council of the 70 elders) decides the death sentence for Jesus in the Temple. Later on, the decision to stone Stephen to death is made in the same place.

In the Psalms, we read often that the city of Jerusalem was the place where justice was imparted. But by the time of Jesus, those who were supposed to look for the welfare of the people looked out for their own well-being. Anyone from outside and anyone who did not praise the leadership had to be eliminated.

Jesus arrives in Jerusalem riding on a donkey, accompanied by an entourage of Galileans and screaming children. How disapproving and disdaining the Pharisees must have been as they looked to Jesus. However, as much as they disapproved of the Galilean multitude, they were also able to convince the gathered multitude to side with them and shout for the crucifixion of Jesus.