What Is Palm Sunday?
What is Palm Sunday all about? But first,
Why is it called Palm Sunday
The Sunday before Easter is called Palm Sunday, because in the Palm Sunday story
, when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem in triumph a week before his passion, death, and resurrection, the people laid their outer garments (coats) and branches of palms down on the ground ahead of where he was going.
All 4 gospel writers give the account of this procession. (Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, John 12) Only John mentions the detail of the branches being palm branches, and that's why it's called Palm Sunday.
This fulfilled many prophecies made hundreds of years before. God and his prophets gave precise details hundreds of years before, so that everyone would know - without a doubt - that Jesus was truly God, truly the Messiah, the promised Savior, and King.
Why are Palms Used on Palm Sunday?
When Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey, the people themselves acknowledged his authority with leafy branches and palm branches. This was how people in those days welcomed a conquering king or ruler, who had won a great victory and destroyed or enslaved the enemies of the populace.
In some cases, the people would do so unwillingly, when a foreign nation became the occupier of the city. But in Jesus' case, this was a spontaneous demonstration by the people that they acknowledged him as the Messiah, and rightful ruler over all peoples for all times.
However, for many of the people, their desire was for an earthly ruler only, to restore their country and free them from Roman occupation. They did not realize that Jesus was coming into Jerusalem to do a greater work, a week including some days of teaching, followed by his arrest, torture, and execution, and climaxing with his resurrection.
The greater work? It was the work of our redemption, the satisfaction of God's justice to atone for our sins, so that we might be forgiven. By doing this, Jesus opened to us the possibility of our salvation, provided we
- repent of our sins,
- accept the great gift of the great sacrifice of his life, and the blood he shed to open the doors of heaven to us,
- and follow his examples, teachings, and commandments.
Christ is King Forever
Temporal authority, life here on earth and its sufferings, lasts for only a "little while." (cf John 16:16-24) Salvation, heaven, "eternal life" lasts forever and forever and ever. Amen.
Before his birth, the angel told Mary that Jesus would reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever, and there would be no end to his kingdom. (Luke 1:32-33)
Palm Sunday - a Time to Acknowledge the Kingship of Christ
Every year in many churches, palm branches - or other tree branches that are available, such as pussy willows - are put in vases as flower arrangements. In some denominations and rites, palm branches are blessed and distributed to the people, or, they are blessed while the people hold them. The people then carry the palms in solemn procession with singing, chants, and public prayers, proclaiming Christ as the true ruler of all - the King of Kings.
Then these blessed palms are placed in the home as a reminder that Christ is sovereign and protects his true followers.
The use of palms - or other tree branches - reminds us that down through the ages, we wish to belong to the faithful followers of Christ, acknowledging his authority, and living by his standards.
Palm Sunday is a Day of Reflection
There are many important lessons in the story of Jesus entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is:
- a day of decision, who is the real authority in our lives;
- a day of faith, that one day God's reign will be universally shown and known;
- a day of hope, that that day will come soon;
- a day of vindication, a reminder that Christ will reign forever, and every person will receive their just rewards or punishments;
- a day of thanksgiving, that Christ is a gentle and powerful ruler to his friends, who do the things he tells us.(John 15:14)
These points are further developed in the meaning of Palm Sunday
Go to Holy Week - Palm Sunday - Good Friday - (Lent).
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