John 12: 31-36 reads:
“The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” He said this to indicate how he was going to die. The crowd responded, “We understood from Scripture that the Messiah would live forever. How can you say the Son of Man will die? Just who is this Son of Man, anyway?”
Just who is this Son of Man, anyway? That’s such a heavy question with a loaded answer! It’s a question that many, including myself, have asked and still wrestle with. It’s a question the crowd asked when Jesus made his entry into Jerusalem. As he entered the city a large number of people gathered and made way for his coming; they praised him and cheered joyfully, quoting prophecies about the coming Messiah. The people spread branches and cloaks on the ground so Jesus could walk over them. By doing this, the crowd was giving Jesus royal treatment, fully acknowledging that he was their long awaited Messiah.
Thinking about the crowd cheering him on, knowing who he was, and then days later demanding his crucifixion makes me cringe. It is scary to think how quickly their allegiance turned because he was not the Messiah they wanted. Everyone expected Jesus to liberate them from the Roman government and set up his kingdom in that moment. He certainly came to liberate them, but from something far worse than the Romans. He came to liberate them – and us – from something they could not see or understand: their captivity to sin. They were so blinded by what they felt would make things right that they missed the bigger picture. If I am being honest, when I look at that crowd, I see myself in them.
How many times have I rebelled against God because he’s shown up in ways I did not really want or expect? My answer is selfish but true: too many to count. Can you relate? The crowd thought they needed to be freed from the Roman Empire, from their immediate circumstances. What they didn’t see was the war being fought for their souls and what the cross of Jesus would accomplish, the true reason he came to them. Looking back, when I accepted Christ it was because my world had been shaken, revealing deeper issues and my need for a Savior. The circumstance was unwanted, but if it hadn’t happened I would not have searched for God and found the truth.
So, just who is this Son of Man? Honestly, I still have a lot to learn about Jesus’ character. One thing I do know is this: we serve a God that does not always give us what we want, but always gives what we need. I am so thankful for that truth. Not everything I’ve ever wanted in life was necessarily good for me. Even if fulfilling those desires was fun for a time, God knew it would lead me to death in the end. If the crowd received what they had wanted (their earthly King) then Jesus’ blood would not be covering the world’s sins. Thank goodness we serve a God who always has our best interest in mind, a God who loves us enough to give us what we need, even if it doesn’t seem to make sense at the time.
Take a moment this week as we approach Easter and think about who the Son of Man really is. What does he want for you, where is he showing up in your life, and how will you respond? What he has in mind for us might be something we don’t expect or feel entirely comfortable with. But we know he will never lead us down the wrong path, even when we can’t see the end result. We can be certain His way is the best, most fulfilling, rewarding, and the only way that leads to life.
Katrina McElvain is the daughter of Trisha, and eldest of her siblings Grace and JP. She loves spending time with family and friends, watching movies, dancing, and writing. She teaches dance at night and is a teacher’s aide by day. She also loves Immanuel and listening to the sermons every Sunday morning.