7Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields.

Who are these “many people”? What do they think is going on in this scene as an obscure man who is rumoured to be a great teacher rides into the city on a colt?

Perhaps these “many people” are pious Jews gathered in Jerusalem to observe Passover. Perhaps they are aware of the prophecy of Zechariah who said,

Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey.(Zechariah 1:9).

But, remember, these “many people” do not have the advantage of hindsight. They do not have 2,000 years of theological reflection behind them to give them a sense of what is happening here.

Perhaps their enthusiasm is fuelled by expectation. Perhaps their hearts thrilled at the prospect of a king who “comes to you; triumphant and victorious.” Who wouldn’t want a “triumphant and victorious” king?

If triumph and victory are the expectation in the hearts of these “many people”, they are in for some serious disappointment. There does not appear to be any victory in this story. Jesus does not produce the kind of triumph for which most of us are hoping.

What kind of triumph and victory is won by a king who submits to injustice, violence, torture and death when apparently he had the power to bring about a different outcome? (cf. Matthew 26:53)

I am going to need to let go of a lot of my expectations if I am going to follow Jesus into Jerusalem through the horror of Holy Week.

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What is my vision of triumph and victory? How do I respond when triumph and victory do not show up in the form I had hoped? What helps me keep my heart open to the alternate vision of triumph and victory that Jesus brings?