Bible scholars believe there were two processions headed into Jerusalem on the same day, Palm Sunday. Did Jesus plan his Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem as a counter procession?
Jesus' preparation for his final hour was designed to show he had dominion over every detail. Yes, there was a counter procession. Jesus entered the holy city from the East, riding on a donkey. With his imperial cavalry and soldiers in attendance, Governor Pilate arrived majestically on horses from the West. The two processions were entering the city for different purposes: Jesus as the Prince of peace and Pilate as a keeper of the peace. Normally, only about 100,000 visitors came to Jerusalem for Passover. This particular year, however, there were 2.7 million in attendance. They knew something would happen if Jesus dared to come to town.
Pilate's procession was a display of imperial power—the kingdom of Caesar.
Jesus' entry was meek. He represented the kingdom of God.
It was not just a clash of kingdoms, but of theologies. Augustus was the son of Apollo and called the son of god. He was known as the savior who had brought peace on earth. After his death, there were reports that he ascended into heaven. His successors continued to bear divine titles as representatives of the son of god – the peace giver. On the other hand, Jesus was the Son of God. He was indeed the Savior of the world.
The Jews were looking for a Messiah to restore God's kingdom on earth. They wanted a majestic leader. That day, Jerusalem witnessed the clash of two kingdoms: the world vs. heaven. It was all part of Jesus' plan in fulfilling prophecy: "He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war-horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations" (Zechariah 9:10).
The king, riding on a donkey (Zech 9:9) will cut off the enemy and bring peace. "Jesus' procession deliberately countered what was happening on the other side of the city. Pilate's procession embodied the power, glory, and violence of the empire that ruled the world. Jesus' procession embodied an alternative vision, the kingdom of God."1 This clash is central to the story of Jesus and early Christianity.
1 Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan. The Last Week. San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 2006.