It had been weeks since he had set his face toward Jerusalem. Weeks since he had resolved to begin a walk that would ultimately end walking up a hill to his death. In these weeks Jesus’ teaching has taken on a different tone. His parables have a greater emphasis on final judgment, and three times he predicts his death. You can imagine his mood and teaching these days being more direct, resolute, and sorrowful than ever before, and it is in this atmosphere, with this emotion that he is welcomed into Jerusalem as a conquering hero, an expected king.
Imagine for a moment how Jesus must have been feeling as this scene unfolded. Did he know this would happen? Did he expect it? How do you think he felt knowing that he was not going to live up to the crowd’s expectations? How do you think he felt when the crowd became a mob and “Hosannas” became “Crucify him?”
What about the apostles? They’d spent three years of their lives with him, eating, drinking, walking with him. They had to have noticed the change in his tone, the shift in his mood. Three separate times he told them that he would be killed. Do you think that they knew that the expectations being spread on the road ahead of them would soon be beaten, ridiculed and hung on cross?
What about the crowds? They had a picture, a romanticized image in their minds of a king liberating them from Roman oppression and sitting on David’s throne. The cloaks and palm fronds that they laid on the road and the shouts of “Save us” were incredibly specific expectations being laid on the back of Jesus. They had no idea that their expectations would become the cross he would carry to his death.
The crowd had specific expectations for their Messiah, expectations that Jesus would not meet. History allows us the perspective to understand that what transpired was much greater than their expectations, but what about our expectations? Our expectations don’t have the benefit of history. What kind of expectations do we lay on Jesus back? Are we willing to accept that he might have a better plan in place? Are we willing to accept unmet expectations? Are we willing to accept the cross? Are we willing to accept that though things may look bleak today, Sunday is coming?