Holy Week is the most sacred week in the church calendar, and it all starts with Palm Sunday, where Jesus enters Jerusalem as a humble king riding on a donkey. This event redefined Israel’s expectations of what the Messiah would look like. Instead of a conquering military hero, Jesus is a lowly, gentle king who reshaped what it means to be the Savior of the world. As Christians, we should pattern our lives on the life of Jesus, which calls us to be humble and obedient, even in the face of suffering.
Observing the liturgical church year, and allowing the life and story of Jesus to be the constant background rhythm of our daily lives, can profoundly affect our spirituality. It will enable us to break free from the consumerism culture surrounding us and imprint ourselves with the story of Jesus.
As Jesus enters Jerusalem for the last time, we hear the crowd chanting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Matthew weaves in his Gospel in the theme of the Davidic Messiah, the King who was promised to rule over Israel and all nations. Matthew fuses Isaiah 62:11 with Zechariah 9:9 to get across one of his main points: the universality of salvation. The salvation Jesus is bringing is for Israel and the ends of the earth.
Matthew also leaves out “righteous and victorious” to describe the king, focusing instead on “lowly” or humble. Jesus can finally and rightly be regarded as “victorious” only after the resurrection. Jesus’s way of being Messiah does not come by way of military might and victory but by the way that leads to the cross.
As Christians, we should remember that this is the King we follow. We should pattern our lives after his and trust him even when he asks us to do things that don’t make sense from our current perspective. Holy Week is a time for us to walk with Jesus to Golgotha and experience the most sacred yet glorious experience of spirituality. And just like Jesus, we won’t stay there because we know that he conquered death and rose again, giving us hope and new life.