On the western side of Jerusalem, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, would enter the city, bringing with him at least 1,000 Roman soldiers on chariots, on horseback, and on foot. The show of force was a reminder for the people that they may talk of liberation from the past but Rome is in charge now.
As Jesus rides down the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem, the people began to wave palm branches, a sign of victory and celebration among Jews and Romans. They shout, “Hosanna!” (which means “Save us now!”) and “Blesssed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” They are quoting Psalm 118:26. The Psalm was written to welcome kings back to Jerusalem as they returned victorious from war. It became a psalm read at Passover celebrations to refer to the Messiah who would come and deliver the people. The people are recognizing Jesus as their king.
But as the week goes by, the question begins to circulate, “What kind of king is Jesus?”
They wanted a destroyer. They got a redeemer. They wanted a warrior. They got a savior.
We can’t join Jesus in this final week carrying our own expectations of what we think a savior needs to be. If we are going to be able to go with Jesus all the way, we must be willing to let go of what we expect we need in a savior. We must be willing to set aside what we think God should be like and accept God on God’s own terms. Welcome to Holy Week.