Today is Palm Sunday. Eventhough we celebrate it every year, most Christians don’t know its meaning and its significance to our faith. Palm Sunday was not called Palm Sunday in Jesus’ time. All of the events of the Christian experience have been labeled as they are as a result of looking back and interpreting life from the vantage point of Jesus’ resurrection.
Historically, Palm Sunday was the first day of the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. He went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover as He did each year. But because His ministry had become so controversial and threatening to the religious establishment, this time, they plotted to kill Him.
The very manner in which He entered Jerusalem on this occasion stirred controversy. As prophesied by the prophet (Zechariah 9:9), He went in riding on a donkey to the cheers of His disciples who waved palm branches (hence Palm Sunday) and shouted, “Hosanna”!
This was tremendously offensive to the religious establishment because it meant that Jesus was announcing that He was the long awaited Messiah. In fact, this had been His claim all along. Many people believed Him to the point that the very existence of the religious establishment was threatened.
The religious leaders saw Jesus as a deluded religious fanatic who was misleading people and they thought the best thing to do was to get rid of Him. And so, Thursday of that week (we have come to call Holy Week) they arrested Him, had Him condemned by Pilate, the Roman Governor of that region, and by Friday daylight, He was on His way to be crucified.
That is a skeletal outline that created Palm Sunday. At least part of the spiritual significance of Palm Sunday is that just as He was rejected as King when He rode into Jerusalem on that distant day, we are still rejecting Him as King to this day. At His birth, it was recorded that “there was no room for Him in the inn” (St. Luke 2:7), there was no room for Him in Jerusalem, and we do not make room for Him in our lives, our homes, our institutions, sometimes even our churches, and in world affairs today.
Palm Sunday reminds us that He is King of our lives and that we need to honor Him as such. Those early disciples sang, hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord (St. Matthew 21:9).
We too need to celebrate Him this Palm Sunday. Give Him His props. Blessed is He!