This morning, we observe Palm Sunday. You may have seen that on your calendar as one of the Christian holidays. You will always see it as one week prior to Easter/Resurrection Sunday, regardless of when Easter falls on your calendar. And if you aren’t familiar with why any Sunday would be called “Palm Sunday” and the only thing that comes to mind would be the sunny beaches of Hawaii or Miami, then I’m hoping that you will begin to appreciate the importance of this Holy Day.
This day marks the week prior to Jesus’ resurrection (marked by Easter—or what we call Resurrection Sunday). The Friday prior to Easter is called Good Friday—good because by it something awful happened for our good: an innocent man who is also Holy God died on a criminal’s cross paying a sentence that never belonged to him but to us. What makes “Good Friday” so amazing is that five days prior during the beginning of Passover Week, Jesus was hailed as King! A welcomed King! A Savior!
What is so amazing is that we contemplate the beginning of what the Church Historic has called Holy Week, that it began with what the Scripture refer to it as the Triumphal Entry. This will begin, in essence, Part I of III in dealing with this morning on the reactions to Jesus during this Holy Week: “Save Us,” then on Good Friday, “Leave Us” then on Resurrection Sunday, “Raise Us!”
In one of the passages (in Matthew and Mark), the term “Hosanna!” is used. We’ve heard that sung numerous times at our church. Hosanna means “Save us!” This is exactly what their King came to do. A plan from before the foundation of the world was in the works to save His people from their sins. This mission on which Jesus was sent was coming to full fruition beginning with this day. As you read through this, you may be saying to yourself, “What is all this? A donkey that’s never been ridden? He rides in on a colt? Palm branches all along the way? And all this drives the crowd into a frenzy? This is one odd story.” At first glance, I will grant you that. But as we delve into it, we see that God is meticulously working out His plan and His purpose for our provision.
Jesus climbs on the donkey and begins to ride into Jerusalem. The crowd knows the prophecies and recognize that this is one of the major displays regarding the Messiah who would come to rescue His people. The gospel of John notes that those in attendance at the Passover “took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him” (John 12:13). Palm tree branches? We know now that this is why they call this Palm Sunday and that it’s the beginning of the week that would lead to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. But palms?
About 150 years earlier, when Israel and Rome came to blows, a national hero emerged named Simon Maccabeaus who led an army to drive Rome out of the holy land and giving them about 100 years of peace before Julius Caesar sent his army through to regain the Holy land in the 40s BC. But they celebrated his victory with palm fronds and is known as the 2nd Maccabean Revolt.
So these Palms represent a deliverer, showing that the people recognized that this is a King who would be their rescuer and deliver them from the power of Rome.
A new hero would come to deliver from a power far worse than Rome—He would deliver us from our sin and our self, from our pride and our ignorance, from our blindness and our lostness. Simon Maccabeaus was a significant hero. Christ is the ultimate hero of the ultimate story. He is either loved or hated, misunderstood or reinvented. But we recognize that He cannot be ignored. You have to deal with Him one way of the other!
Refrain: All glory, laud, and honor, to thee, Redeemer, King, to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring. 1. Thou art the King of Israel, thou David's royal Son, who in the Lord's name comest, the King and Blessed One. (Refrain) 2. The company of angels are praising thee on high, and we with all creation in chorus make reply. (Refrain) 3. The people of the Hebrews with psalms before thee went; our prayer and praise and anthems before thee we present. (Refrain) 4. To thee, before thy passion, they sang their hymns of praise; to thee, now high exalted, our melody we raise. (Refrain) 5. Thou didst accept their praises; accept the prayers we bring, who in all good delightest, thou good and gracious King. (Refrain)