When Jesus came into Jerusalem, He knew what was to come. He was under no illusions about the hopes of the crowd that greeted Him with shouts of “Hosanna!” and “Blessed is the king of Israel!” (John 12:13). He knew they would turn on Him when He failed to bring the kingdom they so desired.
He knew that His journey into Jerusalem would lead to some sort of painful end for Him. He was aware that the religious leaders had secretly gathered in order to plot His death. While He may not have known the exact words, He could have guessed at the desires expressed by Caiaphas the high priest: “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish” (11:50).
He predicted with unveiled words that “the hour” had come for Him and that it would be like “a kernel of wheat [that] falls to the ground and dies” (12:24). He said He would be lifted up and that it would be like a moment before the light is overcome by the darkness (12:32, 35). He knew He would die.
He knew that even His closest followers would betray and deny Him. He let Judas go out even after humbly washing the betrayer’s feet. Though others didn’t understand, Jesus knew that Judas would lead Him into the trap that would be His doom: “what you are about to do, do quickly” (13:27). Jesus knew that even strong Simon Peter – the Rock – would flee in fear and deny His teacher. When Simon boldly stated, “I will lay down my life for You,” Jesus knew the truth. “Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown Me three times!” (13:37-38). Jesus knew He would be abandoned.
All of these things were within Jesus’ knowledge, but He still went forward. He entered Jerusalem. He submitted to the Father’s will. He went the way of weakness, laying down His life of His own accord so that we might have life.
[This post is part of a series of brief reflections from John’s Gospel on Jesus for the week from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.]