UPDATE: this entry is from 2009. A newer post, with much more information, is this one from 2010.
Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week. The triumphal entry of Jesus was to be the last time he went up to Jerusalem. He and his desciples were coming into the city to celebrate Passover. Thousands of Jews from around Aisa Minor, Africa and Europe were doing the same. Throughout his ministry, some listeners (among them the Zealots) expected Jesus to claim his throne on earth. Their idea of Messiah was a military leader, and Jesus was on the scene at the right time if he was going to throw the Romans out of Israel. Many Jews could hear Messianic things in what Jesus said, and here he was riding into Jerusalem. The crowd shouted “Hosanna,” and spread palm branches and even their coats along the highway. Hosanna is sort of like our hallelujah, but literally means save now. Jesus seemed poised to ride ahead into his greatest victory.
As we move into Holy Week, try to imagine the horror of these first century observers as Jesus was arrested and tried. What many followers witnessed, including his own 12 apsoltles, was a dramatic turnaround from first to last place. Some of the same Jews who shouted “Hosanna” would be shouting “Crucify him” by the end of the week. This is that week.