The city. Place of opportunity. A place to hide. Seat of the powers-that-be. Home to humble folk. Fair trade. Shady dealings. Honest citizens. Robbers and killers. Wealth. Poverty.
Devout pilgrims, wide-eyed visitors, curious foreigners, disinterested locals.
A place where anything could happen, anyone could venture, anything could be bought for a price or sold for a song.
The powers-that-be liked the status quo. Them in charge. Everyone else doing as they were told.
Any hint of trouble – they took no chances – they sent out a reminder of the law.
It was always the same at this time of year. The city filled up with people from outside. There was no telling where exactly they came from, what their purpose was, what nuisance they might cause.
Of course, most were harmless, genuine, no bother at all.
But put them altogether in one place, with a shared aim. And who knew what might happen?
So on that first Palm Sunday, the powers-that-be were watching closely, monitoring the situation. Not for them the cheering, the waving, the scattering of branches and cloaks, the anticipation of a better future.
They liked the present. And were intent on making tomorrow exactly the same as today – with them and them alone wielding the authority.
Did the sound of the cheering crowds strike fear into their hearts?
Did they relax when they saw that the Galilean was riding on a donkey?
Did they look at the faces in the crowd and dismiss them as people who were no threat?
Ragged country bumpkins, fishermen, mothers with children, beggars, the so-called dregs of society.
There was no threat there …
"Some boast of chariots and some of horses, but our boast is the name of the Lord our God." (Psalm 20, verse 7)