There's a lot going on when Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. One of the things that amazes me is how he heads right into the belly of the beast. He knows what he's getting into. From the episode in the Garden of Gethsemane we also know that he's not exactly thrilled about it. There's a deep pain there.
But, his face is set like flint towards Jerusalem. There is no waver, there is no detour. And, Jesus isn't just heading towards those who are plotting his death. I suppose one could easily imagine him valiantly and bravely staring down the forces of darkness.
But, he's not just coming to reckon with Pilate and the Sanhedrin. Jesus is also going to Jerusalem to disappoint his followers. Jerusalem is an occupied city, bent over backwards by the Romans. There is constant threat to life, liberty, and the religious and spiritual ideals which had been kindled in God's people since the days of Abraham.
The people of Jerusalem weren't just hungry for freedom and victory. They ached for it. Yearned for it. And, when the Messiah walked into Jerusalem that day riding on a donkey they knew this was big.
They just didn't know what "big thing" Jesus had in mind.
The palm branch and the cry of "hosanna" had been associated with the Feast of Tabernacles for centuries, but ever since the Macabbean revolt in the 160's BCE they were also the penultimate symbols of nationalistic pride. They were reminders that God could do miraculous and amazing things, and could conjure a victory from the deep recesses of oppression.
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem the crowds didn't sing their hosannas and wave their palm branches because they were so incredibly captivated by Jesus' message of love and grace. For them, the Messiah was coming to raise up an army, and with the help of God, Rome would be sent running with their pagan tales between their legs.
But, Jesus shows us that disappointment doesn't have to have the last word. In fact, disappointment can walk out of a tomb and shatter the present powers of this world.
Jesus is enough. We are enough.