Sports fans are great. They totally buy into their team – the jerseys, hats, face paint, horns and huge foam fingers. They are at every match, sometimes even traveling to see their team in away games. They are loud and boisterous and supportive. Their contagious enthusiasm incites fervour in other spectators. And the athletes feed off the crowd’s energy.
But heaven forbid that the beloved team should botch a game. Then those previously adoring fans mutate into rabid, psychotic monsters. They launch shouted insults at the players. They spew venom at the coaches. They call down curses upon the officials. Once their expectations are dashed, their affection quickly erodes.
Passover week 2000 years ago must have been a similarly emotional about-face. It started with a parade. A hero rode through the streets of Jerusalem with his posse. Fans turned out in droves to cover the parade route with palm fronds. They screamed and cheered as their champion passed by, hoping for a glimpse, a wave, or an electric moment of eye contact.
The entire Jewish nation had been waiting to hear from God for hundreds of years, and here he was in the flesh: a hometown hero, a compassionate friend, a miracle-worker, an impassioned orator, a self-restrained rebel, and a soon-to-be political conqueror.
And then Friday happened.
Instead of rallying his supporters, instigating a military revolt, and challenging the authority of the hated Roman occupation, the Jewish champion quit. Just gave up. No fight, no flight, no sly manoeuvres in the night. Just resignation. Surrender. Defeat.
And in the blink of an eye, his adoring fans turned on him. The voices that had so recently chanted his praises now shrieked in hatred, demanding his death.
I can’t say that I would’ve acted any differently. The realization that my intense fervour was so dramatically misplaced would sting too much. Nobody likes feeling duped. And nobody likes a hero who appears to have wussed out. I don’t know that I would be bloodthirsty enough to actually cry out for his assassination, but I can’t honestly claim that I would have stood in his defense.
My expectations of how he would demonstrate his power would have distorted my understanding of how he said he would demonstrate his power. And I would’ve walked away, fully believing that all was lost.
Today, we all have days, weeks, months that feel like that Friday. Instead of the dramatic victory that we were so sure was imminent, we find ourselves bewildered by the apparent shift in power. We feel abandoned. Crushed. Bewildered by what on earth just happened.
The difference between the fans of then and the fans of now is that we have the benefit of knowing how that weekend played out 2000 years ago. We know that death wasn’t the end of the story, and that the hero’s eventual demonstration of power was more magnificent and more triumphant than anything we could have imagined.
I don’t want to be a fickle-affection fan. I am all in – investing everything I have and everything I am for the cause of my Champion’s victory. No matter what Friday holds, I already know what Sunday will bring.