“In like a lion, out like a lamb.” They say that about March (although the past two years are proving them wrong), but consider it in the context of Jesus for a moment. Jesus enters Jerusalem right before the feast of the passover, and the city treats him like a king:
The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” John 12:12-13
Jesus here is treated like we assume he should be. He is treated as an equal (at least) of the Roman emperor, and praised for coming in the name of the Lord. He is lauded as the King of Israel. For many people in the crowd, this wasn’t just some emotional parade; for them, Jesus represented an end to the exile they had been living in for their entire lives. He was the return of the true King.
Jesus enters Jerusalem as the Lion of Judah, the successor to David and the one who would bring God’s presence back to the temple. He is hope incarnate.
Of course, I don’t need to tell the rest of the story. Within days, the crowds would yelling something else. They would not see him as hope, but as a criminal. He was not David, and would not defeat Israel’s enemies.
We see it a bit differently. We see Jesus entering a city full of people who (relatively speaking) had no idea what he was about to do. Many thought he was there to throw off the shackles of Rome, but Jesus had a much larger mission. In other words, Jesus entered Jerusalem as a lion, but would leave a sacrificial lamb.