As we draw closer to our celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, this week we will observe Palm Sunday. All four Gospels tell us that when Jesus entered Jerusalem that final Sunday before His crucifixion, He rode on a colt, and the crowd spread their robes and palm branches on the road before Him. Placing their robes beneath Jesus symbolized their recognition of Him as Messiah and King (see 2 Kings 9:12-13). The palm branches further symbolized prosperity and victory, as they hoped He would lead them to overthrow the rule of the Romans. This was made even clearer in the words the crowd shouted:
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
He who comes in the name
of the Lord is the blessed One!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
(Matthew 21:9, HCSB)
With echoes of Psalm 118 (vv. 25-26), the people cried “Hosanna,” which literally means “we pray, save us.” Indeed, the One whose very name means salvation had come to save His people but not in the way they expected or even wanted. Within days, Jesus would be betrayed, tortured, and crucified—all to bring salvation and redemption to those who believe in Him.
Like the people of Jerusalem, those around us today can see how broken our world is and how desperate their lives are, and they cry out for rescue. Yet they so often want that to come on their terms and according to their timetable. Nevertheless, the same Savior who rode into Jerusalem that Sunday walked out of the tomb a week later, and in so doing, He has brought life to all who call on His name. As we remember the shouts of “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday and the eventual call to “Crucify Him!” on Good Friday, may we be reminded of our mission as a church. We are called to go into a world that is hostile to Jesus and “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.”
We have the duty and the privilege to participate in God’s plan of redemption, and we can do so with hope, knowing that Jesus has secured victory through His work on the cross. Our task is simply to be obedient and faithful to the opportunities that God places before us individually as followers and collectively as a church. As we do so, we can look forward to another “Palm Sunday” to one day take place on streets of gold.
“After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10, HCSB).