My Dear Friend,
As we enter Holy Week and reflect upon Jesus’ willingness to suffer with us, I hope that today’s Palm Sunday devotional will encourage you to continue putting your trust in Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and the Lover of our souls.
Blessing in Christ Jesus,
“On the way to Jerusalem, He sent two disciples, saying, ‘Go into the village and you will find a colt…Untie it and bring it here’ …They brought it to Jesus…As He rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road…
“The disciples were praising God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’ … Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.’
“As He came near and saw the city, He wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes…because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.’” Luke 19:28-44
Being one week before Resurrection Sunday, today we celebrate what is traditionally known as “Palm Sunday.” While Matthew, Mark, and John depict the laying down of cloaks and branches to make a humble “red carpet” for Jesus as He enters Jerusalem, Luke only mentions the cloaks. Perhaps this is to emphasize their willingness to sacrifice what is much more personal – articles of clothing from their very own bodies – to give glory and honor to Jesus.
The above excerpts from Luke’s gospel have been divided into three scenarios:
(1) Jesus, “the King who comes in the name of the Lord,” defies the image of an earthly king by requesting no ornate chariot pulled by majestic horses, but instead, the lowly colt of a donkey upon which to ride into town.
(2) The Pharisees demand that Jesus’ disciples stop their loud, joyful praise; Jesus proclaims that if the people stopped shouting praises to God, then all of nature – even silent, inanimate stones! – would take their place.
(3) Sitting on that humble donkey, Jesus looks over Jerusalem and weeps for their failure to recognize “the things that make for peace” by refusing to see that God Himself had left His throne of glory to personally visit them in the form of physical flesh.
Matthew, Mark, and John inform us that the people were also shouting, “HOSANNA!” (e.g., Matt. 21:9-10). The term literally means “Save us!” These disciples recognized Jesus as their personal Savior who, by simple faith in Him, could forgive all their sins. But they also were longing for salvation from their oppression in the occupation of Jerusalem. God eventually delivered Jerusalem from those oppressors, but not before it had met with complete destruction in AD 70. Jesus strongly implied that had Jerusalem – especially its leaders! – recognized that the Prince of Peace had visited them, the city would have been spared much suffering. No doubt it was the prayers of the faithful few that brought eventual liberation.
Based on these gospel accounts, we enter this Palm Sunday with two questions:
- Jesus’ followers laid down their cloaks – personal articles of clothing meant to keep them warm and comfortable – to honor Him as He entered the city. If you consider yourself to be a believer in Jesus as your coming King, what form of “red carpet” are you rolling out for Him as an invitation to visit you? Palm fronds are a start, but are you willing to offer Him something so personal as your own “cloak?” Are you willing to present your own body in worship as a “living sacrifice?” (Romans 12:1)
- Jesus’ disciples cried “Hosanna!” in a time of great spiritual darkness and societal turmoil. That time has returned, and His disciples are again being ordered to “Stop crying Hosanna!” – even in church! Will you continue to praise Jesus corporately and publicly, or will you let your praise be silenced, being willing to let a stone praise God in your place?
You are invited to wave palms in praise to the Lord Jesus! Even more importantly, I encourage you to “roll out the red carpet” of your heart and welcome His personal visitation today and every day, until such time He calls you home.