Luke 19:28-40 and
What is it about celebrities that intrigues us so much about them? Why did thousands of teen girls turn into screaming fanatics at the sight of the Beetles. Why do they still do it today with Justin Beiber? What is so amazing about a sports start that makes us want their autograph? Why does their chewing gum, locks of hair, or other personal paraphernalia command a price on ebay? Why do millions tune in to watch the Oscars to see what their favorite star is wearing?
And, what about the dark side to celebrity? Why are there so many magazines and television shows to let us know about the latest gossip on Brad cheating on Angelina? Why do we revel in the latest life crash by Lindsay or Charlie? Why did O.J.’s trial halt an entire nation or Michael’s death leave so many grieving who didn’t even know him personally?
There is always a crowd to cheer the latest and greatest personality. They pour their hopes and dreams into this cult of celebrity. And, there are always those who cheer the downfall of a celebrity. There is something dark about humanity that likes to see others rise to the top and then fall to their depths, whether it be actors, politicians, or even pastors.
Jesus had a crowd like this at the Triumphal Entry. This historical event, recorded in all four of the gospels (Luke 19:28-40, Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, and John 12:12-19), tells of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem in the last week of his life on earth. As he came into Jerusalem, many people cheered him and lined his path. They gave him the red carpet treatment, lining the road with palm branches and even their cloaks. But, a few short days later, these same crowds jeered him as he went to his death.
They had their expectations and he let them down. They expected a military leader, a victorious politician, a charismatic rabbi, or an earthly king; someone who would kick out the Romans who were occupying the nation, and lead Israel back to a golden age. Jesus, on the other hand, had so much more planned. He was about to conquer death, forgive sins, and bring a hope for the entire world, but they were so caught up in the cult of celebrity, they missed it.
Jesus knew that they were going to be thinking this way, and so he told a story, found in Luke 19:11-27. He told of a master that was going away for awhile, but would be back. The master left his servants with money to invest while he was gone. When the master got back, some of the servants had invested the money, but one had not. He failed to follow instructions.
Jesus was letting his followers know that he was going to be gone for a period (at this point, over 2000 years), but he would one day be back. In the interim, each of his people would be given talents, abilities, money, possessions, and time to be obedient to God and do his work in this world. That’s you and me and everyone else. We are supposed to be doing the master’s work while he is gone. He also let the crowd of people know that there would be punishment for those who were disobedient.
The crowd missed all this and many still miss it today. They were caught up in the celebrity of Jesus. They were caught up in their hopes for a general or politician who would be king and save them from the Romans. And so, they were disappointed when he was crucified.
They missed the lesson that he would be gone and he would be back. While some saw his resurrection and got the lesson, many others still miss it.
Hopefully, you don’t miss it.
We have been left here to be obedient to God and do his work while we are on this earth. We are to worship him. We are to conform our lives to his word. We are to take care of each other, protect the innocent, feed the hungry, care for the widow and orphan, and otherwise invest the talents he gave us to do good work.
Let’s not get caught up in the cult of celebrity, building up movie stars, devoting ourselves to famous athletes, putting all our hope in politicians, or putting pastors on pedestals. Why waste our time on these people when we know the ultimate celebrity of all.
Instead, let's give him the ultimate red carpet treatment and honor him with our very lives.