SERMON OF THE WEEK: Palm Sunday
- Next Sunday is Palm Sunday. Gospel reading is from John 12:12-19.
Gospel Reading: (John 12:12-19)
Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King
" 12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"[b]
"Blessed is the king of Israel!"
14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:
15 "Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey's colt."[c]
16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.
17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!" "
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the Holy Week, the week of events leading up to Jesus' death and resurrection. It's one of the most important days in the Christian calendar after Christmas and Easter.
Palm Sunday commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem as the chosen king of Israel. The gospels record the arrival of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, while the crowds spread their cloaks and palm branches on the street, shouting "Hosanna to the Son of David" and "Blessed is he who comes n 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 path paved with palm branches is a fulfillment of prophecy spoken by prophet Zachariah. ( Zachariah 9:9)
Some 2000 years ago, a great crowd had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of the Passover. The crowd gathers as Jesus rides into the city on the colt of a donkey and they began to wave Palm branches and shout their welcome to Jesus.
People must have seen Jesus as a political savior as well. Perhaps they saw Jesus like Obama, who portrayed himself as the man who rallied the nation to bring about changes for the better, for liberating Israel from the oppression of Rome. Liberation from Roman occupation was the dream for the multitudes but Jesus was aiming at an altogether bigger target, the salvation of the people at every time and place.
On the first Palm Sunday, the crowd followed Jesus in great numbers not necessarily for the right reason. If it were today, they would be swelling in large numbers following a political leader of their choice. They followed Jesus because they were looking for a certain type of Lord, a quick fixer, for their ideological considerations instead of the slow path that would lead them to the Kingdom of God. The crowd simply wanted only a political leader for Israel.
After the event, it was easy to piece together what had happened. We are now in a blessed position to know what had happened afterwards and the cost of our salvation. We are now able to see beyond the palm branches and hymns of praise to appreciate the purpose of our Lord's coming to us. Jesus calls on us to follow him whatever it costs to attain the peace of mind that comes with the Kingdom of God. Palm Sunday is an occasion for us to reflect on the agony of Jesus' passion and the joy of resurrection.
Palm Sunday services in the church begins with the procession and blessings of the palm leaves with special prayers and hymns followed by Holy Qurbono. Many people take the palm leaves home to place inside the house for our Lord's blessings.
By Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil