Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, which commemorates the passion of Christ and his eventual crucifixion. On this day, we recall the triumphant entry of our Lord and Saviour to Jerusalem, amid pomp and pageantry fit for a King.
Scripture says Christ rode on a donkey, with a crowd following, laying palm leaves and olive branches along the way and crying: “Hossana Filiu David, Beneditus qui venit in nomine Domini – Hossanna to the son of David, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
For nearly three years, Jesus’ ministry was somewhat eventful. He was making followers as well as enemies. Often he didn’t want to reveal who he was anyhow. Severally, he performed miracles and he charged the recipients to keep them quiet. But on Palm Sunday, Jesus literary threw caution to the wind and revealed himself as King. But was he the kind of king the Jews wanted? No certainly, as the events of this week will reveal.
However, Christ’s dramatic entry into Jerusalem is symbolic, signifying his acceptance as King. The shouts of joy and attendant euphoria were the result of great expectations which the people had. They expected freedom from political domination. The Jews wanted liberation from Rome, and their King and Messiah must achieve this. They wanted the messiah to fight their enemies, the authoritarian Roman regime, which treated them as second class citizens. They were so sure that salvation had come, and, it had, but disappointedly not in the way they expected it.
Despondency and frustration set in after the Hosanna chorus, when the people realised that Christ was not at all a military King. He neither possessed the ‘weapon’ to fight their enemies nor even encouraged war. Their disillusionment knew no limit and that generated doubt and questions even in the minds of someone like John the Baptist, who sent his disciplines to ask Jesus if he was the messiah or whether the people should look for another.
Jesus could be said to be the direct opposite of what his Jews were looking for. The majority of people who witnessed his miracles failed to understand his personality. They wanted a king who will wrest power from Rome. They were hungry for physical freedom; hence the shouting and jubilation as Christ entered Jerusalem.
Our situation today as Imolites and Nigerians is not too different from those of the Jews 2000 years ago. As we celebrate Palm Sunday and shout Hosanna, we do so in an empty stomach. We do so with poverty, hunger, political and economic decay staring us in the face. We do so with tears that things are not getting better, that change is still very far away.
Our people are shouting Hosanna feeling unsafe and insecure in their land. There is fear, joblessness and disunity. But the difference between us and the Jews is that, we fully understand the Lordship and personality of the Christ. We know that he is not a political or military leader. We know he is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
We understand that when we call upon him, he hears and answers us. He can touch the minds of our leaders and rulers to restore order, peace and justice in our land. He can help us to restore sanity in our country and in our state. He can soothe the hearts and minds of our suffering people. He is a prayer answering God.
Therefore, as we shout and celebrate, we will solicit God’s intervention in our nation. We will appeal to God to have compassion on us and touch the hearts of our politicians to do right.
We call on all Christians to intensify prayer, this holy week for real change to happen. We join our suffering with the suffering of Christ over 2000 years ago and pray earnestly for a new Imo State and a new Nigeria, where oppression, cunning and corruption will become a thing of the past.