When ancient armies vanquished their enemies they would come back to their capital city with all the treasure they could carry. It was like a big parade.
In Rome, when the conquering heroes came back the parade has a name. It is called the “Roman Triumph.”
This would include people to be made slaves and finally the last take all the treasure from the foreign land they conquered, including people to be made slaves and the last person to be dragged in would be the vanquished King. He would be on display for all the jeer, and then they publicly execute the King for all to see.
But with Jesus, God does the opposite.
As Paul writes in Colossians 2,
God made you alive together with Jesus, joyously and freely putting you on the right path. 14 He blotted out the handwriting that was against us, opposing us with its legal demands. He took it right out of the way, by nailing it to the cross. 15 He stripped the rulers and authorities of their armor, and displayed them contemptuously to public view, celebrating his triumph over them in him.
This is what happens when God turns Good Friday into Easter Sunday. The great paradox. Out of great weakness comes ultimate power. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, yet.
So, here comes Jesus riding into Jerusalem first. We know things won’t go well for him this week. He is called the King Israel, but what kind of a king?
Instead of a chariot or a war horse, he is riding on the back of a small donkey like a peasant. He is showing no signs of military might as he walks into town. His army is a bunch of people waving palm branches. Not much of a weapon against a spear or a sword. But this army of Jesus is mainly made up of people following him since they saw him raise Lazarus from the dead. Why use a sword or spear when you have the power to raise the dead.
So, Jesus, the conquering King, comes into town without an army, bearing no treasures, just who is he?
The people who follow Jesus don’t know what they are doing, but Jesus does. Think on this.