Good Friday – The day that Christ’s own people rejected Him, turned Him over to the Roman authorities and demanded His crucifixion. How the precious Son of God allowed Himself to be abused and murdered at the hands of His own creation, showing His indescribable love by taking on Himself, the Sinless One, the very punishment that we deserved.
Easter Sunday – The day of His glorious Resurrection, demonstrating His conquest over the Evil One and death, forever. And not just for Himself, but for us and for all of creation as well. It was the turning point of all history.
Always a special season, but I can’t help but feel that one day gets consistently overshadowed in the potency of the others – Palm Sunday. The day of so-called Triumphant Entry. I think that many seem to dismiss Palm Sunday as the day when the fickle multitude cheered the One whom they thought would be King, only to turn against Him a few, short days later. A story of the hypocrisy of mankind. And in part, perhaps it is. But I also think that it’s much deeper than that.
I’ve always been intrigued by the imagery and the symbolism of the palms. It’s much more than just a children’s Sunday School prop. Not only is Palm Sunday an event that is recorded by all four Gospel writers (Matt 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-40, John 12:12-19), but I became fascinated when I realized that the waving of palms before the Lord was far from a singular event. Turn to Leviticus Chapter 23. We’re in the middle a long passage of many instructions and commands that God is giving to His people through Moses, including the commandments to observe a number of religious festivals. One of those commanded festivals is the Feast of Booths (or Tabernacles) which was the last of the fall feasts, a joyous celebration of the harvest and yet also the time when the people of Israel were commanded to leave their homes, to come to Jerusalem and were required to build for themselves shelters or booths in which to live for the seven days of the festival, to remind them of their nation’s humble time of traveling through the wilderness living in tents and in dependence upon the Lord. Note in 23:40, “Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful tress, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days (emphasis added).” Thus the practice waving palms before the Lord God became a centuries long practice among the Jewish people, far before the Man-God Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem on a donkey’s foal.
In the time of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, the practice remained. The symbolism of the palm had grown. In Greek and Roman culture the palm had become renowned as a symbol of victory – Cicero referred to one who had won many prizes as plurimarum palmarum homo – a man of many palms. Matthew Henry comments that ‘Christ was now by His death to conquer principalities and powers, and therefore it was fit that He should have the victor’s palms borne before Him’. Whether waved by fickle hands or not, the palms represent the victory of Christ. They also provide another demonstration of how so much of the Old Testament, and in this case particularly the Feast of Booths, foreshadowed that which was to be fulfilled in the advent of Jesus.
And the foreshadowing continues today. The scene in heaven recorded by John in Revelation 7:9 reads “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’. Thus even in heaven we will continue to worship before the Lord Our God and Jesus Our Savior and to celebrate His eternal victory with palms in our hands. Perhaps Jesus’ first entry into Jerusalem was more of an exit as He prepared to leave the earth for a time and that we have yet to celebrate His Ultimate Triumphal Entry at the beginning of the Millennial Reign.
So Palm Sunday should not be looked at as a secondary holiday for the Christian. It is a day as worthy as any to celebrate the unmatched, irreversible victory of our Lord and Savior.
Let us consider all that His victory means to us:
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Isaiah 25:8 “He will swallow up death for all time and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces.”
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 2:4-6 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.”
1 John 5:4-6 “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the one who came by water and by blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and the blood.”
What have we received or will receive?
The Holy Spirit!
The Fruits of the Spirit! – Galatians 5
We are new creations!
The freedom to live a sinless life!
Sonship, fellow heirs with Christ!
An invitation to the Wedding Feast!
We’ll get to see His Face!
We’ll get to witness the new heaven, the new earth!
We get to live in the new Jerusalem! Forever, and ever and ever.
Revelation 21:6-7 “And He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.”
So in light of all that Our Savior has done for us, do not let the opportunity of Palm Sunday pass. It is a glorious day to celebrate His indescribable, eternal, victory that He won on our behalf.