with material from The Last Week Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, 2006 Harper Collins
two processions entered Jerusalem on the day we call Palm Sunday
it was the beginning of the week of Passover – the most sacred week of the Jewish year
the Passover celebrated the time when Moses and Miryam led the children of Israel to freedom from being slaves in Egypt
Jerusalem is crowded with pilgrims; everyone who can travels there to worship at the Temple
from the east rode the procession we all know about with Jesus on a donkey riding down from the Mount of Olives cheered on by his followers
the other procession from the west from Caesarea Maritima, came Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor; he entered Jerusalem at the head of a column of Roman imperial cavalry; Pilate rode a horse, high above the crowds
the Roman governor always came to Jerusalem at the time of the Passover, in case of trouble, after all this was a Jewish celebration of the people being liberated once before from an oppressive ruler
and the governor came to remind the Jewish people who their ruler was – Rome.
“a visual panoply of imperial power: cavalry on horses, foot soldiers, leather armor, helmets, weapons, banners, golden eagles mounted on poles, sun glinting on metal and gold. Sounds: the marching of feet, the creaking of leather, the clinking of bridles, the beating of drums. The swirling of dust.” (Borg and Crossan p3)
just think of any Netflix series on the Roman empire and you get the idea
remember the emperor of Rome was seen as a god; often called the son of god or Lord or savior; these inscriptions would be in the banners the soldiers carried
I think we usually imagine Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem as something spontaneous but Jesus had planned his arrival – the disciples are sent to get a donkey, whose owner is expecting them and in Matthew’s gospel they are given a password “The Lord needs them”
Jesus has planned his procession to be the polar opposite of Pilate’s procession – challenging the empire and its theology
so from the east comes Jesus in contrast – on a donkey –an echo from the prophet Zechariah (9:9) “look your king is coming, humble and mounted on a donkey”
Zechariah goes on to detail what kind of king Jesus will be: “he will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations” (9:10)
and the people welcome Jesus, cutting branches from the trees and laying them on the road
they shout “Hosanna” which originally meant “save us” and along with “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” is a line from Psalm 118 (25-26) always sung at Passover.
the gospel writers are definitely setting up this entry into Jerusalem as the arrival of the Messiah, so long waited for down the centuries
and the war horse Zechariah speaks of is Pilate arriving on the other side
so this is no cute family festival we reenact today
this is political, dangerous; two kingdoms confronting each other – the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Caesar
“A kingdom of peace, a kingdom of justice, a kingdom of radical and universal freedom. A kingdom dramatically unlike the oppressive empire Jesus challenged on Palm Sunday.” 
our palm crosses that we make and keep are symbols of protest, symbols of standing up to the Caesars of our world – the things that burden and dehumanize us and the peoples of our world
in this time of pandemic our palm crosses can be a source of comfort but let’s not lose their political purpose, reminding us that we follow the One who challenged Caesar and was killed for it. These crosses take us through the way of suffering and to the resurrection.
Our world is suffering, we are suffering. This Holy Week we will walk beside Jesus to the cross as he embodies our suffering. We will walk this week always knowing that resurrection has already happened and that the resurrected Christ is with us.