Palm Sunday is this Sunday. This is a very widely celebrated day in almost all religions and churches. The beginning of Holy Week, the last week of Lent. When we go to church on this day, we often receive palm branches to have with us during the service. We may hold the palm branches up or even wave them during worship. At my church we even have a little parade where the kids walk up and down the aisles waving their palm branches and singing…nothing short of adorable.
The history of Palm Sunday is so interesting to me. It of course is the story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, where He no doubt knew His fate. A crowd of His followers laid palm branches along and across the road as He rode into town and praised Him; this was to show their great honor and respect of Him. It’s so ironic and crazy to me that this man could be praised and glorified on a Sunday, and then later in the week, arrested on Thursday and tortured and crucified on Friday. They say life can change in an instant…yes think how Jesus felt.
All four gospels recount this story. And I’ll add the references at the end of the blog if you wish to read them. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John tell basically the same story, just with small, subtle differences.
As I think about this coming Sunday, I ask myself, “What exactly does Palm Sunday mean to me? What does it truly signify for me, besides a palm branch?”
I think I can best sum it up in two words- HE KNEW.
He, Jesus, knew exactly the fate He was riding into. He knew what He would be faced with later in the week. He knew He would be betrayed. He knew He would be tortured beyond comprehension or belief. He knew that it would be bad, really bad.
Sometimes I think we forget that Jesus was human. We only think of Him as the Son of God, and because He was the Son of God, it’s easy to assume He handled death better or with more ease than say, you or I would. While there is no question that Jesus handled this beyond horrible event with amazing strength, far better than any of us ever could, I’d like to point out the fact that He had very human emotions leading up to this event all the way to the end, because again, he was human.
Scripture tells us that Jesus pleaded with God and asked if there was any other way. He was “troubled and sorrowful.” In Matthew 26 it says that Jesus fell on his face and prayed saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will but as you will” (Matthew 26:39 ESV).
Jesus even sweat drops of blood. “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44 ESV).
And even in His last moments of earthly life He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 ESV).
Clearly, Jesus did not want to die on the cross. I mean, who would? He cried out many times, anguished deeply, but still, in His great despair surrendered completely to God. He knew and was well aware of what was coming.
So what is my take away from all of this…what does Palm Sunday mean to me?
It reminds me of the awareness Jesus had of his imminent death. It reminds me how he anguished and cried out to God in the days leading up to His crucifixion. It reminds me of the great depth of love God has for us. That He would allow His very own son to suffer like this, only so that we could have forgiveness of our debts, and have eternal life with Him. I mean to put this in perspective, could you or I watch our own child suffer as Jesus did? The answer is a firm NO.
Palm Sunday reminds me of why my salvation is through Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone.
It reminds me that yes, HE KNEW and He still carried on because of His trust in His Father and because of His love for me and you.
Jesus had to sit with His suffering, He had to get comfortable with being terribly uncomfortable. The only way one can do this is if they trust. He did.
What suffering are you sitting with right now? What are you uncomfortable with in life? Is there something you know you must walk through in order to get to the other side? Is there something you must completely surrender to God and just trust, as Jesus did? I know there is for me and I’m guessing there is for you too.
I encourage you to examine your heart this Palm Sunday and remember, Jesus not only died for you, but he relates to you. He knows suffering, He knows discomfort, and He knows walking through the fire even when you don’t want to.
He was human and He knew.
Gospel References for the story of Palm Sunday: