When Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He was so famous for His astounding teaching and miracles that the people were wild to have him come. They cut branches from trees and laid their cloaks in the road so his donkey wouldn’t have to touch dirt. They shouted hosanna. They celebrated so much that the entire city was in an uproar. And within days, they were shouting for his death. What happened?
The most obvious reason for the change in attitude is that the Scribes and Pharisees were seeding the crowd with lies. They wanted Jesus dead so they incited a riot. Crowd mentality will follow the loudest voice, so when the cry went up, Crucify Him!, it was picked up willingly by those who wanted to be on the accepted side.
The second reason is that these were people who were not completely sold as to who Jesus was. He was a spectacle, someone who could put on a good show. Amazing things happened around Him and it was amazing to watch, but they never went past that. They never pressed in to find out who He really was. His teachings were hard to understand, yet they listened because He taught with so much authority. But when He was arrested, they joined the accusers because it must have come out that He was on the wrong side after all. If the Scribes and Pharisees said He was bad, then how could you argue against that? These were the people about whom Jesus said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? ” (Matt 17:17)
The third reason was that some truly believed He was the Messiah, but it didn’t go the way they thought it would . When Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem, they cried out, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11: 10) They thought that David’s kingdom was going to be restored and Jesus would overthrow the Romans. When He was arrested, it shook them. It was as if He failed them, personally, because their understanding of His kingdom was completely flawed.
And so the crowd turned, but after the resurrection, things began to come together. His teaching began to make more sense. And those who cried for His death had to come to terms with the stunning gift of salvation that Jesus came to give.