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The parade route begins near the twin towns of Bethpage and Bethany, less than two miles from Jerusalem and winds into the Holy City. The Grand Marshal is an unlikely hero – a rustic from a blue-collar town up north, the son of a woodworker. In keeping with his “common man” image, he decides to ride on a cut-rate float – the back of a donkey.

The crowd that chokes the road on that long-ago Sunday is made up of ordinary folk: merchants and mothers, goldsmiths and goatherders, clergymen and children. All of them are straining their necks to catch a glimpse of the man who would be Messiah. A copper-skinned fellow with a bushy beard calls out: “Anyone see him?”

“Not yet,” cries a taller man, and then adds, “Do you think Jesus is the One? Do you think he will finally liberate us?”

“Who knows?” the swarthy man replies. “He can’t be any worse than the other pretenders we’ve put up with.”

The crowd erupts. He is coming! Like a surging sea, the people press forward as one. Children are hoisted on shoulders. Shouts of “Hosanna!” – “Save us now!” – tumble from excited lips. Some of the spectators leap onto the dusty road, spreading out cloaks and freshly-cut palm branches to welcome the King of the...

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