Palm Sunday Explained
This Sunday Marks the Christian Holiday traditionally known as Palm Sunday. The feast commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem one week before His crucifixion. This event, is mentioned in all four Gospels (Matt. 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44, and John 12;12-19). It is celebrated as the day Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem one week before His Passover crucifixion. Jesus intentionally chose the donkey as His transportation. It was tradition for kings going to war and returning from war to ride a horse as a symbol of victory. As the king made the journey through his the streets the people would line the streets to praise Him. Rather than ride on the chosen animal of a king, Jesus rode on the donkey. According to Eastern tradition, the donkey also had symbolic representation. It was an animal of peace and not an animal of war. For thousands of years, since the time of Adam, mankind has been living at war with sin. We have been waiting for the day when the Messiah would come to bring us peace with our God. Therefore, Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem symbolized his entry as the Prince of Peace, not as a war-waging king. (Isaiah 9:6) Jesus represents our peace with God.
As Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem, the people celebrated by laying their cloaks and palm branches down in front of Him. Togther the crowd chanted Psalms 118:25-26 – … Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. In the ancient Near East, it was customary to cover in some way the path of someone thought worthy of the highest honor. (2nd Kings 9:13). In Jewish tradition Palm branches were seen as a symbol of triumph and victory (Leviticus 23:40; Revelation 7;9). Palm Sunday commemorates the Week leading up to Jesus’ Death and Ressurrection. Unfortunately, those individuals who lined the streets to praise Jesus, were also the same individuals that cursed him 5 days later as he was crucified on Calvary. The very same Psalm the people quoted to praise God (Psalm 118) also tells us that Jesus was entering Jerusalem to go to the altar of sacrifice (Ps. 118:27)
Knowing that this Sunday is Palm Sunday, I feel the need to reflect upon this story and ask myself three key questions about my faith.
- Do I give heart felt praise to my King? The People of the Palm Sunday story sang praise to Jesus as their king, but just a few days they were singing “crucify” to Jesus as His accusers. The people had grown angry with Christ because he did not do what they wanted him to do. They expected Him to rule as a king, but he came to die as a sacrifice. Do I praise Jesus because of what I get from Him or do I praise Him because he alone is worthy? My God is not my puppet to control, He is my king. As my King, is the name Jesus an empty word I express from my mouth or is it a genuine name I worship from my heart?
- Do I sumbit to honor Jesus as my King? Am I willing to lay down my proverbial cloak and say, “Jesus you are my King and I honor.” Am I willing to run throughout the streets of my life and give God the glory He deserves? I struggle with sin just like anyone else. I desire to be the one that honors my king through Psalm 118:25-26 and not the one who sacrifices Him on the altar of shame (Psalm 118:27).
- Do I reflect the life of my King? When I was a kid, I wanted to be like my heroes. I am pretty sure I believed “I wanted to be like Mike”, because my Nike shoes told me it was possible if I would “just do it.” I believed in my heroes so much that my life reflected my heroes. I thought one day kids were going call me the next Air Jordan. Now that I am older and have placed my faith in Jesus, my heroes have changed. I want to reflect the life of my true King. When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he did so on the back of a donkey as a humble servant bringing peace. So I have been called by my king to likewise go into this world to share the gospel of peace with others (Matthew 28:19).
This story of Palm Sunday is a true story about love. A story that says Jesus loved you and I so much that he willingly and knowingly rode down the streets of Jerusalem into histories most horrific death. He went to Jerusalem with death hanging over him but his love for you was on His mind. He came to offer you an eternal relationship with Him. That is the King I want to praise, the King I want to honor, the King I want to reflect.