Day 1: Sundown Saturday to Sunday Sunday.
In case you didn’t know, today began what is known to the Christian church as Holy Week. Yep, the week before Easter. And it starts officially today. Palm Sunday. For those of you that have been following along since Friday – welcome back!
It’s hard to imagine, but many churches will go through today without even mentioning the significance of Palm Sunday and the events leading up to Christ’s death. It seems to be a Day or Tradition that has been a bit lost in recent past.
If you attend a church or have been in a Palm Sunday service when they wave palm branches you have experienced the beauty and anticipation that the day brings. Perhaps you were not fully aware of the significance of this tradition or where the symbolism actually came from. Allow me to divulge.
On the Sunday before his death, Jesus walked the 2 miles in from Bethany and rode a donkey over a palm branch-paved pathway into Jerusalem proper. This was but one of many coming fulfillments of prophecy. This one spoken by the prophet Zechariah (see Zechariah 9:9).
Here’s the significance of that move: In biblical times, (especially in this era of Roman rule) the custom called for kings and nobles arriving in procession to ride on the back of a donkey. The donkey was a symbol of peace; and riding it was a symbolic gesture that proclaimed peaceful intentions. When a king or dignitary was arriving in victory or triumph, people would lay palm branches in his path to signify the victory of the king.
Here is how it played out for Jesus:
¶ On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, even the King of Israel.” Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it.
Zech 9:9, which was written hundreds of years before speaks to this event: “FEAR NOT, DAUGHTER OF ZION; BEHOLD, YOUR KING IS COMING, SEATED ON A DONKEY’S COLT.”
The people of that day lived in a period where there legally was no king but Caesar. And here they are, in a packed city preparing for the Passover and touting a new king. One they believed was their long awaited Messiah. You gotta know, this didn’t go over very well. Stay tuned.
After that Triumphal Entry, as we call it, Jesus went into the Temple, threw over the money changers tables, freed the sacrificial doves and healed the blind and the lame.
Having had a very full day, Jesus returned that night to the place that brought him comfort: the home of his friends Mary, Martha & Lazarus, in Bethany.
verses for today:
Matt. 21: 1-17
John 12:12, 13