A triumphant and rebellious entry into Jerusalem frames our worship today. Jesus, at the height of his popularity and well-aware of the danger and possible consequences of provoking the religious authorities and the Romans, nevertheless makes a dramatic entrance into Jerusalem. He does so just as the city is swelled to the brim with pilgrims preparing to celebrate the Passover.
And – at the same time as the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, would have been making his way, with all the pomp and ceremony, into the city for his official visit – something he did at the festival time every year.
And so, Jesus’ show of protest, his “parade of peace” (symbolized by him riding on a donkey), is met with cheers from the crowds. The hosannas sweep Jesus into Jerusalem, for the people thought that he was going to usher in a new order, and free them from Roman rule.
And the people are not wrong to shout out blessings and call for the coming reign of God. Jesus is here, in Jerusalem, the centre of power, and he’s challenging powerful people and institutions. But he won’t be bringing about change with a show of force or might, and when they people don’t get the kind of Saviour they’re expecting, that’s when the tide will turn.
Here on the edge of Holy Week, as the world deals with a global crisis and we find ourselves dealing with our own experience of pain and trauma, we, like those who greeted Jesus on the road to Jerusalem, can find ourselves drawn to anyone or anything that may promise a quick fix or cure, anything to end the suffering.
Jesus’ parade into the city that day so long ago, was the beginning of a series of events that would ultimately show the people that the way through to restoration and renewal of our lives is often difficult, and involves entering into the pain and grief of the world and of our lives.
As people of faith, we are called to enter this experience with trust that we do not travel the road alone.
And that if we follow Jesus’ example of making that journey with love and a willingness to enter into our own vulnerability and share that with others, we will come out the other side. We will find new life.
And so friends, I invite you to follow Jesus into this most Holy Week, within this most precarious of times in which we live. Let’s proclaim our Hosannas, and then walk the road of faith and love. Amen.