The crowds believed Jesus was the Messiah who had come to establish Israel’s independence from Rome. But they wanted a King Messiah who would be their political hero. In fact, the whole scene replicates a King or General’s triumphant entry into a city. It all seemed so perfect and hopeful.
The only problem was: Jesus wasn’t that kind of Messiah.
The irony may have been lost on the people at the time, the way it is lost on most of us today, but Jesus’s ‘triumphal entry’ was not that of a General or a warrior. No, such men ride stallions. Jesus rode in on a donkey. The donkey revealed Jesus to be an humble peasant on a peace mission, not a military warrior.
But, as we know, Jesus had a way of constantly turning everything upside down! He rode in on a donkey for His triumphal entry and not only established this irony, but lifted up the lowly donkey in the process. (Note that it was a donkey that had carried Jesus and Mary at the before He was born, as they rode into Bethlehem.) Again Jesus showed us that the very thing which we think has no value, has tremendous value in God’s eyes. Jesus challenged our values and our notions of supremacy in every way, from our political power to the cruel power we dare to exercise over God’s created world and God’s beloved creatures.
So, what are we to do with this kind of Messiah?
We do not want to conquer evil with peace, humility, and non-violence. We would rather resort to violence and power. He comes in peace and humility and rides in on a donkey. That’s why, just a week later, when these would-be followers realized Jesus’ goal was one of peace, they stopped shouting “Hosanna!” and started shouting “Crucify Him!”
You see, Jesus didn’t want to just liberate us from our temporal enemies, Jesus wanted to liberate us from all of our enemies, from the source of our problems: sin, evil, and death itself! This is the victory that Jesus won!