Sunday, 13 April 2014

Pop goes popularity

Who has not ever wanted to be popular? We like to be liked by others. But how long does this popularity last? If one does not keep up striving to be pleasing to others, then it's one day a hero, the next day a villain. Just for being one's self and not following the crowd. You are only popular as long as you say and do the things that others want you to do.

Earlier this year, I read a statement about popularity that once again reminded me of the title of this blog:

Nothing is so fickle and uncertain as popularity. It is here today and gone tomorrow.

These are the words of J.C. Ryle, the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool, who lived in the 19th century. The statement is made in his book Expository thoughts on Matthew, as he comments on the events of Palm Sunday as recorded in the Bible.

In the 21st chapter of Matthew, we read about the Lord Jesus Christ entering Jerusalem on the back of a donkey in fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecy given in Zechariah 9:9 (ESV):
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
As the Lord Jesus rode into Jerusalem on this donkey, there was a crowd to welcome Him and this is what they did and said:
Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" (Matthew 21:8-9, ESV)
Jesus Christ had become the most popular person in town. The Jewish people thought He had come to deliver them from their Roman oppressors and they gave Him an unprecedented welcome.

But only a few days later, the crowds would be calling for Him to be crucified. The true King and Saviour was no longer a king and saviour in their eyes.

In his commentary on Matthew, J.C. Ryle writes:
Let us notice in these verse a striking example of the worthlessness of man's favour. Of all the multitudes who crowded round our Lord as He entered Jerusalem, none stood by Him when He was delivered into the hands of wicked men. Many cried, "Hosanna!" who four days after cried, "away with Him, crucify Him!"
But this is a faithful picture of human nature. This is a proof of the utter folly of thinking more of the praise of men than the praise of God. Nothing is so fickle and uncertain as popularity. It is here today and gone tomorrow. It is a sandy foundation, and sure to fail those who build upon it. Let us not care for it. Let us seek the favour of Him who is "the same yesterday, and today, and forever." (Heb. 13:8.) Christ never changes. Those whom He loves, He loves to the end. His favour endures forever.


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