Palm Sunday commemorates triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem

To celebrate the Passover

Palm Sunday is one of the most important days in the Christian calendar after Christmas and Easter. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter, and marks the beginning of holy week events leading up to Jesus’ death.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, when I started to prepare this message, I asked myself the question, what is the history of Palm Sunday? How did it begin after the death of Jesus?

The celebration of Palm Sunday originated in the Jerusalem Church around the late fourth century. The early Palm Sunday ceremony consisted of prayers, hymns and sermons recited by the clergy, while the people walked to various holy sites throughout the city.

At the final site, the place where Christ ascended into heaven, the clergy would read from the gospels concerning the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. In the early evening, they would return to the city reciting "Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord".

The children would carry palms olive branches as the people returned through the city to the church, where they would hold evening services.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Palm Sunday commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

The gospels record the arrival of Jesus riding into the city on a donkey, while the crowds spread their cloaks and palm branches on the street and shouted "Hosanna to the Son of David, and Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord" to honor him as their long awaited Messiah and king.

The significance of Jesus riding a donkey and having his way paved with palm branches is a fulfillment of a prophecy spoken by the prophet Zechriah. In biblical times, the regional custom called for kings and nobles arriving in procession to ride on the back of a donkey.

The donkey was a symbol of peace. Those who rode upon them proclaimed peaceful intentions. The laying of palm branches indicated that the king or dignitary was arriving in the victory or triumph.

My dear friends, Jesus himself tells us that He was weeping because the very multitudes that were praising him did not recognize. "The time of their visitation" even though they were praising him as a king. Jesus knew that they would turn around after a few days and denounce him as a criminal.

Jesus was weeping because the full meaning of his triumphal entry was hidden from their eyes. When we celebrate Palm Sunday, it reminds us that Jesus really was the true messiah and that God’s Old Testament promises have come true.

Palm Sunday also reminds us that Jesus went to the cross on our behalf deliberately and willingly and it teaches us the far more glorious and spiritual nature of Christ’s Kingdom.

Palm Sunday revels the sad reality that many who today profess Jesus as Lord may tomorrow prove not to be his true followers at all.

The great majority of those who hailed Jesus as their king, did not have a clue of what they were doing. They did not really understand what it meant to profess Jesus as the Christ. Their lack of true understanding and lack of true commitment was later confirmed when they joined the Jewish leaders in calling for his crucifiction.

In the same way, there are many people today who may celebrate Palm Sunday and next week Easter Sunday, but they don’t have a clue of what it means. They may profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but they don’t understand what it really means.

I am afraid that if these people were to come face to face with the real Christ, will they, like their predecessors, shout for his death?

What about you? Are you a genuine follower of Jesus Christ or are you like the multitudes who paid him lip service one day, and wanted him out of their life the next day.

May the Lord grant us all the grace and knowledge to percieve the true meaning of Palm Sunday.

- Rev. Sagara Perera

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