They huddle around one another, listening to some final words of wisdom and last-minute instructions. They may take a knee in prayer. Then together, unified, they make their triumphal entry.
It is a sports tradition as players leave the locker room to slap a sticker, logo, or saying above the door. "Pride" "Bear Down" "War Eagle" The Clemson Tigers rub "Howard's Rock" before taking the field. A simple reminder before game time.
For those in Jerusalem, they laid down palm branches for their coming King.
We are in the midst of March Madness with its Cinderella stories and upsets galore. But fans' expectations are sometimes too high. Although the unpredictability is what makes the NCAA basketball tournament so exciting, we are quick to judge the losers- the team was over-rated, the coach wasn't prepared (both Minnesota and UCLA fired their coaches in the last couple of days despite having relatively successful seasons), the players were soft; or sometimes the worst insult in all of sports- they simply choked on the big stage.
Can you imagine the crowd's surprise as they heard that the Messiah was coming? People rushed out into the streets thinking, "here he comes! He's going to restore God's Kingdom! Time to show those Romans who's boss!" And as they peered over one anothers' shoulders, they saw a humble man riding a donkey.
Sure, for the educated they recalled the prophesy in Zechariah, but he still didn't look like a king ready for battle. I'm sure many doubted upon seeing him. Of course the Bible records that others responded with cheers of Hosanna in the Highest.
Can you imagine their surprise when only a few days later this king-to-be would be killed in a public spectacle?
If Facebook was around at the time I'm sure someone would have posted a picture of the crucifixion with the caption "Epic Fail" Epic would definitely be the right word to describe it; fail, not so much. What the people did not understand was that God's Kingdom involved more than Jerusalem. In fact, it involved more than the living. The Christ died only to overcome death three days later, establishing His Reign over both life and death.
We call Palm Sunday Jesus' "Triumphal Entry" but the real triumph came when Jesus died and entered the grave.
But that wasn't good enough for many fans at the time. And it's not good enough for many still today.