Part 1 of 3 posts reflecting on Palm Sunday
And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;Luke 19:35-37
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, marks the start of the last week leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion.
In the 4th century, soon after Christianity found relief from persecution by the Roman empire, they began a re-enactment of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It soon became a part of the church calendar for many. Those in the Latin church, on this Sunday, would hold up twigs to represent the palms thrown before Jesus as He entered the city.
Over time the observance became more and more elaborate. Not only twigs but seasonal flowers decorated the processions, cemeteries, and churches as whole towns turned out for the celebration.
The inclusion of the flowers led to this Sunday, and eventually the whole week, to receive not only the title of Palm Sunday but also Flowering Sunday, or Blossom Sunday. In Spain that translates to Pascua Florida.
On March 27, 1513 (Easter Sunday), Ponce de Leon first sighted a landmass and named it Pascua Florida in honor of the day. Of course, we now know what Ponce de Leon saw simply as Florida.
As with much of the so-called Christian calendar, there are parts of its traditional, denominational, observance I take issue with. However, the Biblical truths of this week should be precious to every believer.
After nearly three years of ministry, the expectations of many followers of Jesus had risen to a fever pitch! They expected God to restore the kingdom to Israel, millennial prophecies would find fulfillment in Jesus as He ascended to take the throne of David and cast out the Roman invaders.
As Jesus approached Jerusalem they burst out in praise and threw palm leaves and coats in His path to welcome Him as a King and peaceful-conqueror.
Yet in their zeal to see Jesus receive a crown they were blinded to the fact that He would first bear the cross. Before ruling on the throne of David, He must conquer death. Instead of a visible Sovereign, He would bear sin’s penalty, save sinners and rule in their hearts. Before the recreation of the heavens and earth, He would make new creations of those who followed Him.
As the crowds grew in number and fervor the religious leaders knew they could not stop the crowds, and so they turned to Jesus, saying,
Master, rebuke thy disciples.Luke 19:39
In response, Jesus revealed the powerful and beautiful truth that He is worthy of praise and He will be praised,
I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.Luke 19:40
A few decades later John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the book of Revelation.
In Chapters 4 & 5 we see the throne of God with an emphasis on both His glory and His grace! We read that Jesus alone is worthy of praise and the reason is given in verses 9 and 10
Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.Revelation 5:9-10
We praise Him because He has saved us. We love Him because He first loved us.
Before you ever get a glimpse of a crown, you must first understand the cross.
We’re all in lockdown to some degree or another. Use this opportunity to reflect on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We have all sinned. We’ve all broken God’s laws. As with any lawbreaker, there are penalties.
To put it another way. We’ve broken quarantine. We’re infected.
When Jesus hung on the cross God the Father placed on the Son our sins, our infection, and He bore the punishment in our place.
Now we have the promise that,
…whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.Romans 10:13
In your own words, admit to God that you have broken His laws and are worthy of punishment, but that you know Jesus suffered in your place. Ask Him to forgive you because of what Jesus has done.
Simply put, call upon the name of the Lord and you will be saved.
That is the message of Palm Sunday, Flowering Sunday, Easter, more specifically and Biblically, that is the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.