Remember the first Palm Sunday

This coming Sunday (March 24) is a day commonly known to Christians as Palm Sunday. It is a day set aside in remembrance of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem as the people greeted him waving branches of palm trees. They saw Jesus and because they had seen and heard of His teachings, healings, and miracles they knew in their hearts that He was indeed the one spoken of by the prophet Zechariah who had proclaimed, “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zech. 9:9)

“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” we are told they shouted.

All too often the passion of Jesus gets lost in the mist of the waving and shouting. Too often as we read our Bibles we rush onward to the rest of the events of Holy Week. We want to recall that scene known as the Last Supper and we want to read all about Judas and his underhanded dealings. We don’t want to miss out on the scene in the garden as Jesus prayed and the disciples slept. Our hearts race on to the arrest, Peter’s denial, etc. etc. etc. Sadly in our rushing we miss how Jesus paused upon seeing the city and wept. Consider the significance of the words “you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19:44) in relation to the turmoil found in God’s world today; the upheaval in churches is great and the homes of those who proclaim themselves to be followers of Christ are frequently found to be chaotic (the homes of those who reject Christ are utterly devastating). Do we truly recognize the importance of God’s mighty act of salvation?

Each of us could undoubtedly recite John 3:16 but how do we respond to John 3:17-18? 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This day is the perfect day to examine your lives and surrender all of your daily thoughts, words, and deeds over to the will of God.

It is possible that we cheer Him on as we read that he lashed the whip driving out the money changers and those who were selling the unblemished animals. “You get ‘em, Jesus!” we think. Did this event get recorded in scripture as a lesson for us? As we ponder Jesus’ actions in the temple on that day would it not be a good idea for us to contemplate the words of Paul found in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit,who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

Is your temple, your body, truly a House of Prayer? What would you need to change to allow that to be true?

The passion of Jesus continued into his teachings; all the way to the time of his ascension into heaven and then into the Holy Scriptures that are available for us. I firmly believe that that same passion is stirred by the power of the Holy Spirit within the hearts of those who claim Him as their Lord and Savior. I believe that Jesus truly, passionately wants each and every person to know that there is a great, urgent need for repentance.

I challenge you to pause and read the accounts of that first Palm Sunday and the week that followed preserved for us in the 4 gospels. The season of Lent is about preparing ourselves to meet our risen Savior on Easter morning. Are you prepared to meet him face to face?

The writer is in charge of pastoral care at Sidney First Methodist Church.