Greetings In the Name of the Lord:
It is my sincere prayer that you all are getting along during this trying time of Covid-19 outbreak. My prayers and thoughts are with you and I urge you to heed the advice of our medical professionals and practice “social distancing” and stay at home as much as possible.
We celebrated Palm Sunday yesterday and without being in church and worshipping with you it just wasn’t the same! However, I thought I would take time to share my thoughts on this historic event in Christian history.
First of all, let’s put this whole scenario in perspective. It is certainly true that throngs of people were in Jerusalem to see Jesus and to worship Him as Messiah. There were also many people there to see the man who had achieved so much notoriety by raising Lazarus from the dead several days earlier. John tells us of the scene in Bethany (two miles east of Jerusalem), six days before the Passover, “Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.” (John 12:9). There were also those who had much more clandestine intentions, to arrest Jesus (“Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.” John 11:57).
Jesus left the clamor of this scene and departed into Ephraim (John 11:54) to escape the sinister plot of Jewish authorities to arrest Him. In my own mind I believe the air of excitement and anticipation that preceded Jesus into Jerusalem had settled on the whole of the population, Jew and Gentile alike.
I find it interesting that John is the only Gospel that identifies the branches cast in the way of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as “Palm” branches. John 12:13 tells us, “Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
Compare John 12:13 with:
“And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.” Matt. 21:8, And
“And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.” Mark 11:8, And
“And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.” Luke 19:36
Why is this significant? In the expansive panorama of God’s Word there are little orbs of truth that intrigue me. For instance, did you know that Solomon used the Palm as a symbol of beauty? “This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes.” (Song 7:7). The Palm Tree had long been a symbol of the righteous, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.13 Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;” (Psalm 92:12-14). The palm is also symbolic of rejoicing (“And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.” Lev. 23:40) and triumph (“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;” Rev. 7:9).
So, I believe John’s attention to detail has a special meaning in drawing attention to the “palm” branches that were cast into the path of Jesus.
Matthew (Matt. 21:9), Mark (11:9), and John (12:13) records the people shouted “hosanna” as Jesus made His entry into Jerusalem. Dr. Luke summed it up this 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 19:37).
The word “hosanna” carried special significance for the Jew of this era. The word itself actually means “save now.” Its use had messianic as well as eschatological (doctrine of last things) overtones. When the people cried “Hosanna!” to Jesus (“Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” – Matthew 23:39) as He entered Jerusalem, this was a messianic proclamation. The “Coming One” was already recognized as a messianic title (Zechariah 9:9 – “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”).
It is estimated that there were 2 ½ million people in Jerusalem for this occasion. Some were there for the right reason – to worship the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Some were there out of sheer curiosity – to see the man that had performed so many miracles. Others were there to disrupt the ministry of this man who had turned Palestine on its ear. Come to think of it, things really haven’t changed all that much until today, have they?
Please keep yourselves safe and just know that while we may not see each other in bodily form we are never truly absent from each other through the bond of our Savior. Sybil and I are praying for you all.