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.