The people were expecting the arrival of a king, along the lines of King David. This king would be a political leader and great warrior according to their expectations. A warrior would have arrived on a mighty horse, a symbol of his strength.
This is not what the people saw, of course. Instead, fulfilling prophesy, Jesus arrived on a colt:
Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. – Matthew 21:5
And the crowds paved the way:
9And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. -And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.
Note: It is in John 12:13 that these are identified as palm branches.
The palm branch was the symbol of Jewish nationalism, much like our national flags are today. By waving the palm branches and paving the path for Jesus with them, the Jews were recognizing Jesus as their leader, their king. This of course, caused great angst for the Sanhedrin and Roman rulers in the days to come. The Jews expected their king to overturn their oppressive rulers. They were giving their allegiance to Jesus.
Some were also laying their cloaks before Jesus, riding on the placid colt. Unlike the palm branch, the sign of allegiance, the laying of the cloak was a sign of submission, obedience to the Jewish king.
On Palm Sunday many of us will wave palm branches in our church services. By this we will recognize Jesus as the messiah, the savior.
But are truly ready to lay down our cloaks? Can we relinquish control?
It is one of the great challenges to each of us…
Holy Week. So much to reflect on. So much happened leading up to the Living Sacrifice.
Praise be to the Loving God who:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. – John 3:16
Alive in the Word