Palm Sunday could be called Clothes Sunday.
The people took off their clothes and laid them on the path for the donkey to walk on.
I have never heard that explained or preached about. So I’ve been trying to understand. I found references to Egypt and to Babylon, not helpful but interesting. I didn’t know kids ran around naked in Egypt until they were 6 years old, then they were dressed and consider adults. I found some Greek references to clothes… mostly related to burial practices; tearing clothes to indicate great grief, too.
Think about the whole technology of raising sheep or growing cotton, carding, spinning, weaving, dying. The ancient clothing industry must have been a big part of daily activity. And clothes must have represented a significant portion of personal worth. People couldn’t go to the Thrift Shop and find 99-cent Tee Shirts.
I have not found facts that I can report with certainty, but the suggestion is that this relates to the Roman system of occupation (and might be older of course). Namely as a conquering and superior army entered a given town or village the people put their clothes down on the road to show they were unarmed and had surrendered in total vulnerability, “we give up, you’re in charge.”
The Roman system, somewhat like all empires and like all mafia was based on protection money. They spread a common language and “management style” that stopped petty warlords and squabbles; the resulting peace (Pax Romana) allowed an increase in productivity that exceeded the tribute they extracted. They grew so large and powerful that no one at that time could stop them. (This was before the tribes of Europe decided they wanted to knock down Roman structures and haul the stones north to build castles for themselves).
I suspect the Roman invasion and occupation of independent Judah (only a few years earlier) was a scene of such a surrender. Many still resented the Romans and their puppet King Herod, and his network of cooperative business owners and religious leaders. This was just 40 years before the Romans gave up on the Jews, burned the Temple and kicked them out of Jerusalem, giving it to the Palestinians who cooperated with ’em. It wasn’t all that long ago.
Most scholars recognize Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as a sort of a play with the main theme being Kick Out The Romans. There are doubtless other dimensions and I think the clothes on the path might be a clue. I am not sure the crowd, gathered at Bethany and inspired by the restoration of Lazarus a week before, who lined the way, weren’t actually surrendering to a new “management style” based on forgiveness, love, healing, sharing, and caring for the weak. I am not sure I can agree with the point often stressed by advocates of Propitiation that those are the exact same people who later asked for the rebel Jesus bar Abbas to be freed and Jesus of Nazareth to be crucified. There were too many Agent Provocateurs about.
Can “you and me” relate to the crowds in either scene? Some of us want a more righteous community, some defend the rich and powerful still today. I think “you and me” get to lay our possessions on the path before one of the two Jesus’s; the one who tried to trigger the revolution with a dagger and the blood of bureaucrats; or the one who actually triggered a spiritual revolution accompanied by the people singing Psalm 118, his own blood, and Psalm 22 sung as a solo from a cross.