It is that time of the year again, when Christians all over the world commemorate the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ into the holy city of Jerusalem. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the holy week – the countdown to the passion of Christ. It is the last Sunday before Easter Sunday.
Realistically speaking, we would have to watch and see how this year’s event pan out owing to the devastating effects of the Coronavirus pandemic and more specifically, the ban on religious gatherings in almost every part of the world. My guess is; this year’s event is going to be lowkey compared to that of recent years and since I personally won’t be able to attend church due to restrictions in my neighbourhood, I have decided to be in the spirit of it all by recollecting great memories of past commemorations and deeply reflecting on the significance of Palm Sunday.
As a Child, one of the things that fascinated me about Palm Sundays was the sight of palm tree branches being brandished by worshippers, old and young, as they returned from Church service. It was also fun collecting palm tree branches being distributed at our local Church and creatively transforming the palm leaves into crosses alongside my younger brother, and when we got home, each person hangs their palm crucifix at different locations in the house. These are some of my earliest memories of Palm Sunday and as far as I was concerned, that was all it meant to me. But is that really what Palm Sunday is all about?
Now as an adult, I have come to see the need for understanding things before engaging in them. I have learnt not to do things just because everybody else is doing them, so one of the things that come to my mind during feasts such as this is; What is the significance and how does it affect me? When you start asking yourself questions like this, you will find yourself becoming less interested in so many things you’d normally engage in.
To dissect the significance of Palm Sunday, first we have to look at the origin or background of it. Where do Christians get the idea from? To do this, we refer to the primary sources on the life of Jesus – the Gospel accounts. The story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, six days before the Passover can be found in all four Gospel accounts but for the sake of this post, I have chosen to highlight the account of John.
On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. (John 12:12-16, KJV)
Reading that, I can understand why Christians all over the world take this event seriously today. It was the beginning of the gruesome journey to Calvary and it rightly affects all who are partakers of the kingdom of God offered to us through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. That to me is more than enough reason for believers to commemorate this day, but that’s not all that happened on that particular day. The triumphant entry into Jerusalem also proved Jesus was the Messiah who was to come. Over a thousand years before the birth of Jesus, a certain prophet of God had prophesied the triumphant entry of the coming Messiah into Jerusalem;
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he [is] just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. (Zechariah 9:9, KJV)
When Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, the age-long prophecy of Zachariah was fulfilled. Further more, people came out in numbers to welcome Him with olive and palm tree branches, even placing their cloaks on the ground for Him to ride on and singing a part of Psalm 118:25-26, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord”.
Two other interesting things to note from this event is that; first, according to Eastern tradition, the Donkey is an animal of peace, unlike the horse which is regarded as the animal of war. Jesus entering Jerusalem on a Donkey symbolizes His title of “Prince of Peace”. Secondly, we are told from Luke’s account that as He approached Jerusalem, Christ foretold both His death and resurrection, as well as the destruction of the Second Temple (Luke 19:41). Both of which would later come to pass, further revealing the divinity of Christ.
Regardless of whether we are able to attend Church today or not, regardless of whether we can manage to get palm tree branches today or not, there is so much we can reflect on as we commemorate this truly special day. Let us take the time to reflect on the Old Testament prophecy fulfilled by Jesus Christ as He rode triumphantly into the holy city, showing us that God’s word and promises always come to pass. Let us reflect on Lordship of Christ – ask yourself today, is Chist the king that reigns in my life? Peace is one thing that is lacking in the world today – We can reflect on the fact that Christ is the Prince of peace. Finding true peace is a matter of whether you truly know and have a relationship with Him. Don’t forget to enter into fellowship with Him today, believe me, God wants to hear from you.
Finally, we should bear in mind that the holy week begins today. Let us endeavour to spend more time with God in the coming days through prayer, fasting and daily Scripture study, in holiness as we eagerly await the most important day in the world calendar, Easter Sunday. Thanks for going through this reflective post with me. I pray that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God abide with you now and forever, Amen.