Wave Your Palm Branch
“Praise the LORD!”
Ken Bible wrote the words of the song titled: “Here Comes Jesus! He's Our King!”. The first stanza is: “Here comes Jesus! He's our king! Hear all the people shout and sing! Strong but gentle, see Him ride! God has come in His love and His might! Gather round Him! Let us celebrate! He will rule, and we can't wait! Wave your branches! Come and lift your voice! Christ is here, and we rejoice!”
Palm branches in the Greco-Roman culture symbolized triumph and victory. They were often shown on coins and important buildings. King Solomon had palm trees carved into the walls of the inner sanctuary and main rooms of the Temple (1 Kings 6:29). They are also mentioned in the Book of Revelation (7:9): people “from every nation and tribe...held palm branches in their hands” to praise Jesus.
Palm Sunday, also often called Passion Sunday, is observed the Sunday before Easter and celebrates the entrance of Jesus riding on a donkey into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-9). Thus, the more than 500 year old prophecy recorded in the Old Testament in Zechariah 9:9 was fulfilled. In the Eastern tradition, the donkey may have been a symbol for peace.
There was a great crowd of people at that time in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Festival. When they heard that Jesus was coming, they cut off small palm branches from the palm tree and went to meet Him. They spread out their cloaks on the road ahead of him. They also laid the palm branches across Jesus's path and waved them in the air shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is He and praise to Him Who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel (John 12:13)”.
There are many traditions that have been established throughout the years in the churches in observance of Palm Sunday. A few of the traditions are: a procession of the congregation is formed and enters into the sanctuary carrying palms and waving them. Some churches save the palms and they will be burned the following year to be used as the source of ashes for Ash Wednesday. In Israel, the children are given branches from olive and palm trees. There will be woven crosses and other symbols made from palm fronds and roses. In India, often the sanctuary itself is scattered with marigolds for the congregation to proceed through.
Luke 19:41 states: “But as they came closer to Jerusalem and Jesus saw the city ahead, He began to cry”...“an event known as Flevit super illam in Latin, foretelling the suffering that awaits the city (Wikipedia)”. The Jewish leaders had begun their plan to kill their King. People did not understand that when He approached Jerusalem, it was to die, as the Passover sacrifice.
For God's people today, Palm Sunday is a time for rejoicing. Jesus fulfilled the prophecy as told in the Old Testament. Christians everywhere can be comforted by the promise that in the future He will fulfill another prophecy when He returns as “King of kings and LORD of lords” (Revelation 19:16).
All who follow Jesus Christ stand up and wave your palm branches! Rejoice! Your King is coming...!
On this Palm Sunday, “Let everything that lives sing praises to the LORD”. Amen.
~ Ann Brock Ludington