Angel Lester
by on March 24, 2024
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This year, Palm Sunday falls on March 24. What does Palm Sunday mean to you? At first glance, this holiday seems kind of irrelevant. Palm branches? Festivals? A man riding a donkey and a Jewish crowd shouting “Hosanna!”? What does this story have to do with our life today?

Palm Sunday is a Christian holiday that occurs on the Sunday before Easter. This celebration celebrates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, mentioned in each of the four Gospels. Jesus entered the city knowing He would be tried and crucified and welcomed His fate to rise from the grave and save us from sin! Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy week, the remembrance of Jesus' last days.

In many churches, Palm Sunday is observed with the blessing and sharing of palm branches, symbolizing the branches placed in front of Christ as he entered Jerusalem.

They took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord the King of Israel!” (John 12:13)

I tried to imagine what it must have been like on that Palm Sunday when Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem. What made the people so happy and joyful? Was it just that they expected Jesus to free them from the Romans? Did they realize how He would triumph over sin and death? What exactly made them so happy to have Jesus there in Jerusalem.

There was a jubilant atmosphere among the people of Israel on the first day of the week when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.  The people had waited a long time for the promised Messiah.  Since the time of Abraham, they had longed to see their promised King, the Seed promised in the Garden and confirmed to Abraham–the Seed who would conquer their enemies and bless the nations (Genesis 22:17-18).

John tells us this is all done to fulfill a prophecy given by the prophet, Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9-10). Jesus intentionally rides in on a donkey to inflame their hopes that he is the king they have been waiting for. He is the king who can defeat death. He will be victorious over all rival claims to his throne, and he will save his people (John 12:15-16). That’s what “hosanna” means—“save us.” It’s the cry of those who long for the King prophesied by Zechariah.

But unlike other kings, Jesus hasn’t come to kill but to die. Like a seed must be buried before it can become a tree, Jesus must be buried before his Kingdom comes. He must master death by first dying. Anyone who wants to join his Kingdom must be willing to accept his death (John 12:24-26). The whole reason Jesus came to earth wasn’t to conquer empires by killing them but to die under their influence (John 12:27). Jesus rides into Jerusalem like a King, but like a King, who knows the only way to defeat death is to die.

Palm Sunday is good news because Jesus announces that he has come to dethrone and disarm the empires of this world through his death. We can either embrace the rival Kingship of Jesus or we can align ourselves with the powers that be. We can accept Jesus’ coming death as the way to new life or fight to keep our lives as we know them. We can either pledge allegiance to Jesus’ Kingdom or join the religious establishment and reject him.

Palm Sunday is good news because Jesus announces that he has come to dethrone and disarm the empires of this world through his death. We can either embrace the rival Kingship of Jesus or we can align ourselves with the powers that be. We can accept Jesus’ coming death as the way to new life or fight to keep our lives as we know them. We can either pledge allegiance to Jesus’ Kingdom or join the religious establishment and reject him.

So I pray that on this Palm Sunday you will accept Jesus as the King who died and was raised to show that death and the empires that wield it are defeated.



 

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