Palm Sunday has always been a day of mixed emotions and contrasting messages. On the one hand we celebrate the entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem with pomp and circumstance, the people gathered together in excitement and anticipation as Jesus enters in. On the other hand, five days later the same crowd will be yelling, "crucify him!"
It's all about expectations.
The people of Jerusalem had heard of Jesus, they knew he had healed the blind, the lame walked, demons cast out...and Lazarus! He was alive! They hoped this was the one, the messiah they had prayed for and expected for centuries. Yet the messiah they hoped for was not the one God sent.
They wanted a king, a political leader, a warrior who would gather the nation and remove the Roman oppressors, someone who would bring prestige and wealth and the recognition of the world. Someone to make Israel great, and to make their lives easier, wealthier, better. So on Palm Sunday they gathered at the gate and welcomed this prophet, this man who healed and raised the dead, this man who just might be the one.
Five days later they would nail him to a cross.
Palm Sunday is a day of mixed emotions and contrasting messages, and yet we continue to stumble and fall, repeating the mistakes and misconceptions throughout history. We welcome Jesus into our hearts, yet when he does not heal us, fix our problems, answer our prayers as we see fit we turn away. We grow cold and lifeless. He just doesn't meet our expectations.
As a people we need to read and re-read the Gospels over and over. We need to hear the message and understand. We need to recognize that Jesus IS a conqueror - not of kings or principalities but of much greater foes: death and sin. He has freed us from slavery. He calls us to be one in him. There are no promises of comfort, wealth, ease. The promise is salvation for those who love God and their neighbor as themselves.
Two thousand years ago that didn't mean much to those who would crucify him. I'll bet it does now.