"Now we'll show them!" The oppressed people, beaten down by so many empires, would have their day. The most powerful force anyone had seen in history, which had brutally occupied those poor people, would be humbled.
And why would that not happen? He had shown the power to heal any affliction. By the same token, couldn't he cause painful plagues like those that brought the Egyptian Empire to its knees? Flies, blood in the water, locusts, and frogs should be heading toward Rome. The Romans should expect some boils and sores, and the loss of their first born children.
He showed the ability to calm a storm. Certainly, anyone who could do that could also lash the Romans with hurricanes and tornadoes. And anyone who could raise the dead might know a spell or two that would cause death. It would be just like the walls of Jericho, or the destruction of the Canaanites, or when Pharaoh's chariots were destroyed by the Red Sea.
It's almost like the long suffering college, which miraculously winds up with the top high school recruit. Now we'll show them, think the teammates, coaches and fans. It can also be likened to the political party that lost an election or two, who seems to have found the perfect candidate to bring them back to victory.
But that's not what happened in each of these cases. This savior didn't call for the death of the Romans. He healed the ear of a Roman servant (who lost it to a friend of the savior). He even cured a Roman Centurion's son with a word! His miracles helped the rich and the poor.
This savior didn't even object to paying taxes. In fact, he didn't even seem to think money mattered so much, unless it involved chasing moneylenders from the temple. He debated religious elders. He helped sinners. He even said the old religious law should change from one based less on revenge, and one based more on love.
Imagine that star player focusing more on teamwork than scoring touchdowns, or academics instead of athletics. Picture that political party leader caring more about honesty than raising money, or helping people instead of garnering votes.
Now you probably understand why the same people who praised Jesus coming into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday could turn on him less than a week later. Even when he was arrested, the people probably thought that would be his cue to lay waste to the Romans. But he didn't. Maybe that's why so many shouted for the other guy to go free, as that guy actually did something, leading an armed revolt that led to a few Romans losing their life.
Up there on the cross, it wasn't too late to demonstrate the power of God, destroying those who would mock him, proving them all wrong. Instead, he took the time to verbally comfort a criminal crucified next to him.
For many, then and today, Jesus was the greatest disappointment. But thankfully, we are the better for it, as there's a chance for many of us to receive something more than the humbling of our enemies. And that's what really counts.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.