Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday. This week was so important that three of the gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) devote a full third of their contents to it, and The Fourth (John) dedicates the last half of his Gospel to it. Jerusalem, which had a normal population of about 50,000 at this time, had at least tripled in size because of the influx of pilgrims celebrating the Jewish holiday Passover.
Early Sunday morning Jesus made a bold public entry into Jerusalem. This was the end of all privacy and safety, and the beginning of what would be an inevitable collision with the religious and political authorities. Crowds gathered to see the rabbi from Galilee. The procession began accompanied by shouting and singing from the throngs as they threw down their garments on the pathway to cushion his ride – an Oriental custom still observed on occasions – as well as palm fronds, the symbol of triumph.
The Old Testament prophet Zechariah had foretold the arrival of the Messianic king in Jerusalem via the humble conveyance of a colt. Here the crowd hailed Jesus as “the son of David”, a loaded name used at a loaded time. The priestly establishment was understandably disturbed, as the palm was the national emblem of an independent Palestine. These were Jewish flags. What if Jesus should claim to be the heir of King David?
Jesus was now on a collsion course with the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman government. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem would culminate in His crucifixion. On what we call Palm Sunday Jesus was a national hero. But within one short week He would be less than a zero in the eyes of everyone. By Friday he would be hanging on a cross… naked… dispised… mocked… and abandoned by all.
But never forget… after every Friday crucifixion, there IS a Sunday resurrection!