Imagine the United States of America is invaded by China. Think of the movie Red Dawn, if you've seen it. We have been conquered and most of our American culture has been banned. One day—remaining in our hypothetical scenario—an individual comes along and claims to be the leader who will free us from our oppressors. We believe him. We follow him. When it comes time to implement the plan to overthrow the invaders, our savior drops a bomb. The problem is with us, not them. We, he says, need to convert. We are shocked. We are offended. And so when the Chinese arrest our leader and sentence him to death, not only do we not object, we approve of his killing.
I don't know about you, but this "what if" situation helps put into context what exactly happened on Palm Sunday almost 2,000 years ago. The Roman Empire—China from our illustration—had conquered Israel. The Israelites were awaiting a savior who would throw off the shackles of the foreign invader and make Israel great again. Jesus the Christ was supposedly that figure. But instead of leading an army against the Roman legions, he tells the people “to render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar.” He tells his followers to repent. Salvation is to come not to the nation, but to the person. To be saved is to love God with one's whole heart, to turn the other cheek, and to take up one's cross. “Sheathe your sword,” Christ thus commanded. His disciples were surprised. They were disappointed. So they shout out to their enemies, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” The Romans comply, creating not a red dawn, but a red day.
Christ does not always fulfill our expectations. Don't crucify him when this is the case.