Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. Why is that important? It’s the Sunday before Easter, and they waved branches as He entered Jerusalem, yes… but what does it mean for us today? How can this historic event still impact us and our walk with the Lord Jesus Christ?
Why Palms? In many lands in the ancient Near East, it was customary to cover in some way the path of someone thought worthy of the highest honor. Both the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John report that people gave Jesus this form of honor. However, in the synoptics they are only reported as laying their garments and cut rushes on the street, whereas John more specifically mentions palm fronds. The palm branch was a symbol of triumph and victory in Jewish tradition, and is treated in other parts of the Bible as such (e.g., Leviticus 23:40 and Revelation 7:9). Because of this, the scene of the crowd greeting Jesus by waving palms and carpeting his path with them, and their cloaks, has become symbolic and important.
Now… why a donkey? The symbolism of the donkey may refer to the Eastern tradition that it is an animal of peace, versus the horse, which is the animal of war. Therefore, a king came riding upon a horse when he was bent on war and rode upon a donkey when he wanted to point out he was coming in peace. Therefore, Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem symbolized his entry as the Prince of Peace, not as a war-waging king.
We can also learn from the crowd. They not only waved branches, but they took off their cloaks and laid them down in front of him. Those who worshipped as he entered the city, displayed joy in giving. The people gathered to see, and welcome, this King! They were celebrating with the offering of their garments, as well as their vocal praise.
We will soon go from having people shout “Hosanna” and believing he is the one to save them, to rejection and crying out for his crucifixion just a few days later. So in remembrance of this day let me ask… What are you saying about Jesus? Are you a part of a changing multitude? An inconsistent follower?
Let me encourage you to not only find your joy in following Jesus, but be consistent with your speech and actions. My questions are not for a crowd long ago, but for you and I today! Public opinion still moves the masses, but what do you accept and believe? Is Jesus your King? Are we excited and ready to greet Him? Do we have an offering for Him? …And are we prepared for His coming?
I pray “Lord, help me be a consistent follower of Jesus Christ. Let me have the joy and assurance that was seen on the day you rode into Jerusalem. Let my life produce offerings and praise to You, no matter what doubts may arise from those around me.”
“Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:” — Mark 11:9
Rev. Cathleen N. Cathcart is the pastor of New Life Worship Center in Spartanburg.