On Palm Sunday many millions of believers within the world-wide universal church will celebrate. They will call it either Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday, the first day of the final week of Lent, remembering and giving thanks for the last days of Jesus' atoning ministry on earth.
Palm Sunday commemorates the Saviour’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem before his arrest and crucifixion and glorious resurrection — an event recorded in all four Gospels in the New Testament, indicating the vast importance of this episode in the Gospel narrative during the time when the four gospels were written.
According to John 11, it happened shortly after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead in the small town of Bethany. Jesus and his disciples returned to Jerusalem. He sent two of them ahead to a nearby village to fetch a colt and, after the disciples placed clothes on the animal's back, Jesus mounted it and rode into the city.
"This took place," says Matthew (21:4-5), "to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” And: “Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road" (Matthew 21:8, quoting Zechariah 9:9-10).
And Luke tells us: "As he was drawing near — already on the way down the Mount of Olives — the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Hosanna to the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:37-38).
As Matthew reminds us: He shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth."
The Gospel teaches us that this event is a triumphal announcement of our reconciliation with God, accomplished on a cross and perfected by a victorious resurrection and ascension.
Some of those present at the first Palm Sunday hoped for, and others feared, the launch of a revolt against Roman oppression.
But Jesus was no military leader - he rode a donkey, not a warhorse — and his concern was pastoral and not political, as we read in Luke 19: 41 – 42:
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes.
Oh, if we would only see what will bring us peace and who he is who will set us free, we will go to worship on Palm Sunday to sing our hosanna’s to the King. This King of kings and Lord of lords came to give his life as a sacrifice of love, deliverance and redemption for us.
Hosanna, dear Lord. May your Kingdom come!
May the peace march of the first Palm Sunday inspire us to proclaim your sovereign power and saving grace!
Invite all the children to participate in a Palms procession, carrying palm branches an placing them in front of the Lord’s Table, before the service starts.
Praise music that hails Jesus as Redeemer, Saviour, Lord and King should be sung by all congregants as we gratefully remember that the perfect, unblemished Lamb of God arrived at the altar on Golgotha to be slaughtered during the Jewish Passover, to die for our sins and set us free to serve in the Kingdom of God.
All glory, laud, and honour
to you, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.
You are the King of Israel,
and David's royal son,
who in the Lord's Name comest,
the King and Blessed One.
Oh Lord, before your passion,
they sang their hymns of praise;
to you, so high exalted,
our melody we raise.
You did accept their praises:
accept the prayers we bring,
who in all good delightest,
our good and gracious King.
(Songs of Fellowship 525)