The people would not have called their gathering a convention. A rally? Maybe. A movement? Possibly. They were grouped en mass for mostly civic and political reasons. The palm was a national symbol of identity and independence. The Church gets “Palm Sunday” from this scene in Jesus’s life.
“Tell the people of Jerusalem, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey– riding on a donkey’s colt.'” (Matthew 21:5)
“Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (v. 9)
A prophet had spoken long ago that the true king of God’s people would enter Jerusalem in humility upon a donkey. No war horse or chariot would be needed. The real king’s identity surpassed the need for the projection of power. Jesus entered according to the word of the prophet, and this stoked the hope of the people. As with most political rallies, always sincere hope and optimism will be close to the hearts of many in attendance.
The particular people had great hope in that moment that Jesus would once and for all make “the” difference for their nation. They wanted to be “saved now” (the meaning of “Hosanna,” which they shouted as he passed them by). They wanted to be liberated from oppressors and restored as an independent people belonging to God as a nation.Saved. Liberated. Restored. God has offered exactly that through Christ ever since that time. The offer differs from the assumption that people of Jesus’s day held when he entered Jerusalem on that day long ago. God doesn’t offer political liberation or merely the restoration of national pride.
God offers hope over hopelessness; God offers life over death; God offers to restore you in relationship to himself. God offers these things again and again, every day, regardless of whatever your present circumstances may be.
Is there a way in which you need to be liberated from something that holds you back? Is there a way in which your life needs to be restored to peace with God? Pray. Ask Jesus for that help and blessing.
Grace and Peace,