Growing up, it seemed the supporters of Jesus who went to greet him with palms and shout “Hosanna!” just a week before his crucifixion understood exactly who he was. But they really didn’t. At that point, many seemed to believe he was the Messiah, but not God in person.
Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah did not indicate specifically that he would also be God incarnate. Why this was is twofold. First, the people would not have crucified their Messiah if they really believed he was the Messiah; and especially if they really believed he was God—Yahweh—in the flesh. Second, Satan wanted the people to turn on Jesus, crucify him and get him out of the way. If Satan had known that God’s plan was to have Jesus crucified all along, then we can only speculate how Satan would have intervened to stop this–not encourage it. But as it was, Satan’s successful attempt to kill Jesus actually fit into God’s plan of salvation.
We, as a culture, still fail to recognize Jesus was God incarnate. Satan is still using this old line two thousand years later. Our culture still talks about Jesus as man, but mostly makes the claim that he was really just ‘a good Jewish boy’ who became a rabbi, was crucified for his radical opposition to Jewish authority, then for some reason was soon deified by his apostles. This argument is based on some degree of academic research (every good lie has some truth); but to come to a solid conclusion that fails to recognize Jesus as God is ultimately a shallow study on Him and the true beginnings of His church.