Today marks the beginning of what many call Holy Week. This week contains within it the whole of the Gospel message for God’s people. Today is Palm Sunday. You know the one, people lined the already busy streets to catch a glimpse of Jesus, or at least to see what all the fuss was about. In a way it represents the height of our misunderstanding of the role and nature of Messiah.
When a Roman legion returned from a successful campaign the city of Rome held a Triumph. A triumph was basically a hero’s parade in which the legion in full regalia, and toting along any captives and slaves, rode and marched through the city streets. It was the only time that a legion was allowed to be in the city en masse. The people of Rome would be lining the streets, cheering and waving to the conquerors who had either protected them or fought to gain them new territory. There was no personal benifit for most of these people but it was a great chance to celebrate!
When Jesus entered Jerusalem the people held in their hearts and minds all the dreams of the Messiah coming leading a legion of sorts and driving the Romans out of their city and their land. To them it was a triumph, they seemed to miss or ignore that he was not riding a fine steed, but a young donkey, and he was not armed or wearing armour. Perhaps we needed to be completely blind to who was really coming into Jerusalem in order for the story to work out properly.
So, even as you wave your palm branch and sing Hosanna this morning, enjoy the party but remember that the real triumph awaits us in seven days time.