This Sunday, the worldwide Christian Church will commemorate Palm Sunday, the day Jesus entered Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, as his followers and fans waved palm tree branches and placed them on the ground for the beast of burden to walk upon.

What you may or may not know is that the beautiful palm leaf that we long to lounge under on a beach vacation was actually a sign of rebellion against the Romans. To the Jewish nation, the palm branch was not only a sign of prosperity and blessing, but also one of victory. As people were laying the branches before Jesus’ colt, they were crying out “Hosanna!” (which means “Save us”) and “Blessed be the King of Israel!”

In other words, the people wanted Jesus to rise up, resist the Roman empire, and reestablish Israel as an independent nation.

However, there was another resistance going on.

Jesus was resisting the pressure of the people to assume an earthly kingship. He knew they needed something far more than just to overthrow the Romans. After all, he knew that empires eventually fade. But the rule of sin had held reign since Adam and Eve ate the fruit. So Jesus knew that the people needed spiritual freedom, not just political freedom.

So perhaps to Jesus, the palm branches being laid before his colt did mean victory. Victory over sin. Because his death was going to be a blessing for Jews and Gentiles.