Every year, with many Christians around the world I celebrate ‘Palm Sunday’ which marks the beginning of Holy week leading up to Easter. ‘Palm Sunday’ remembers the final and triumphant arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem before his death and resurrection. In the Bible, the Prophet Zechariah foretold “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey”.
We see this prophesy being fulfilled in the New Testament in: Matthew 21:7….
“They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Now if someone said you were going to meet the person who could save you from absolutely anything that troubles you?
What kind of a super hero would you expect to find? What would the person look like?
Well, during this time the Jews were awaiting the Warrior-Messiah, who would save them and free them from the oppressive state, Rome. In Ancient times, you would expect a triumphant king to lead a procession on a fine horse. A strong, sturdy horse representing war and to present the warrior which rode it! But, what did they get… The long awaited king riding on a donkey. The colt of an ass! We do not see Jesus come storming in on a horse, no, we see him seated on a donkey. In Eastern tradition a Donkey would be seen as a symbol of peace as oppose to the horse symbolising war.
In many parts of the East it was customary to cover the path of someone worthy of highest respect and honour. Jesus is greeted in this way when he arrives on the donkey. What’s more, in John’s Gospel he mentions ‘palm’ branches being laid on the road. At this time, palms were a sign of victory in Jewish culture, and were used in the Festival of Tabernacles, to celebrate God’s provision for the Jews as they wandered in the wilderness and brought into the Promised Land. Every year they would celebrate this festival and now, maybe instinctively, the people were using palm branches to celebrate Jesus’ arrival.
I find this intriguing and wonder, how many of the people realised the significance of this?
That Jesus was actually God’s provision of eternal life, and freedom from the wandering wilderness of sin?
It strikes me how Jesus enters Jerusalem riding a donkey, being praised by some of the same people who would later mock him and shout ‘Crucify him’!
If I’d have been there on that day, I wonder, would I have missed it? Would I have recognised that Jesus was not just a temporal hero, a temporal king, but The Eternal king, God himself, humbly coming down to earth to save mankind! I only came to this realisation myself 8 years ago.
Jesus is the prince of peace. He powerfully brings that peace into many lives today, including my own life. Jesus had a way of turning everything upside down and I believe he still does today.
At the end of the Bible we see the vision of a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne of God. They were wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne!”
I love to see how God’s purposes have been played out through the Bible. If you look closely enough; it is easy to see how it points to Jesus Christ. If you would like to know more about the Easter story, a good place to start would be in the book of Mark or John in the Bible. I pray that you, dear reader will be blessed this Easter time and for the light of God to shine into your heart and life.