The Arrival of a Hero

The most important period of time during the Christian year is Holy Week.

This week is the celebration of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made so that his

followers could receive eternal salvation. Most people have general idea of what

transpired during that week; especially, the culmination of the week’s events with Christ’s

death on the cross and subsequent Resurrection. However, not as many people

understand what transpired earlier in the week beginning with Christ’s entrance into

the city of Jersusalem on Palm Sunday.

During the spring, around 30 A.D., Jerusalem was filled with pilgrims who had

come to the city for the celebration of Passover. Word had reached the people that

Jesus Christ was coming to the city. Jesus had become quite a notorious figure

through months of traveling across the land of Palestine. Stories of his

miraculously healing the sick and sermons about the Kingdom of God had ignited

the people’s curiosity. It was a Sunday when Jesus rode on the back of a donkey

into the city to overflowing crowds waving and throwing palm fronds and

spreading their coats on the ground in front of him. This was a symbolic gesture

indicating the respect of the people and their approval of Jesus by saying that he is so

important that they did not even want the hooves of his mount to touch the ground.

This was a gesture only reserved for the arrival of a king and that is what the people

were celebrating: the arrival of their future king. However, within five days, these

same people would turn on Jesus by demanding his execution.

Immediately upon entering Jerusalem, Jesus went to the temple. The temple

had been filled with merchants offering to sell animals for sacrifices, money

changers who were exchanging the native currency of the pilgrims for the special

coins of the temples (it may be believed that many of these dealings were not fair

and honest). In short, the holiest of places had become a “den of robbers.” In a

rage, Jesus chased the merchants and money changers away from the temple. This

moment became a turning point. The people wanted a king who would make them

feel good about themselves and stand up to the Roman government. They expected

a king who would change their enemies, but Jesus’s message was clear that he was

not a “feel good” Messiah, but one who would make the people change


The leaders of the temple - the chief priests and elders - were both angry and

afraid of Jesus. They had given authority to the merchants and money changers to

operate within the temple grounds; while probably profiting on the transactions as

well. They were losing money from Jesus driving that element out of the temple.

More importantly, they were losing power. The were afraid that the people would

put their trust and faith in Jesus and their own authority would diminish. This

started the wheels in motion to have Jesus arrested for heresy and eventually


The events of Palm Sunday are obviously an critical part of the story of Holy

Week. It is amazing to think of what was going through Jesus’s mind as he

understood well in advance that he would go from the status of a conquering hero

to ultimately a mocked pariah within just five short days.