Image depicting Jesus with his disciples, appearing on an early-Christian catacomb in Rome, online courtesy SUNY (State University of New York), College at Oneonta.
For many centuries, the Jewish people had expected a Messiah. Their Scriptures foretold it. But how could Jesus be the Messiah? After his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus seemed to say things that were contrary to the Jewish understanding of who the Messiah would be and what he would do for Israel.
In predicting his death, Jesus said:
Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.
The Jews believed the Messiah would help them, not leave them. They had been taught all their lives that the Messiah would champion their cause, not die. So when Jesus predicted His death, the people were confused:
We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up'? Who is this Son of Man?
The very people who had proclaimed Him "King of Israel," just days before, began to doubt that Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah.
The doubt soon gave way to rage against Him.