Four Ways to Prepare for Palm Sunday

palm-sundayPalm Sunday marks the beginning of what we know as Passion Week or Holy Week.  Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  The term “Passion” in Passion Week refers to the inhumane suffering Jesus experienced on the cross to make redemption possible for mankind.  The Passion Week is crowned with Easter or Resurrection Sunday.  Christians make much of the Easter season because the events, Jesus’ death and resurrection, are the two pillars of the Christian good news.  “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, [4] that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, [5] and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5).  The gospel is the sun in the universe of what Christians believe.  In sum, the events we remember during the Easter season display that fundamental truth God did for us in Christ what we could never do for ourselves.  “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3).  Because the Easter season sets before us the most precious and essential truth of the gospel, we should prepare ourselves so that we can spiritually benefit from the Easter season.  In the spirit of preparing ourselves to spiritually profit from the Easter season, here are four ways to prepare for Palm Sunday.

  1. Read the triumphal entry passages in the gospels.  All four gospels record Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19.  All four accounts reveal the significance of the triumphal entry.  It was a profoundly important event in Jesus’ life.
  2. Reflect on the significance of the triumphal entry.  Jesus was introduced as King!  This has major implications for here & now and then & there.  The here & now implication is that we should pay homage to the King and give our lives in service to Him.  The then & there implication is that He will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 7:9; 17:14; 19:16).
  3. Delight that the King came to deliver you from the kingdom of darkness and that, by grace alone through faith alone, He transferred you into His kingdom.  “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, [14] in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).  Do this corporately on Sunday.  Gather with other kingdom constituents and worship the King.

O worship the King all-glorious above,
O gratefully sing his power and his love:
Our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise
(Robert Grant, “O Worship the King,” 1833)

  1. Commit or recommit yourself to the King.  There is no better time than Palm Sunday than to yield yourself to the King for the first time or anew.  Is Jesus your King?  If not, why not?  There are are only two ways to live.  If He is, does your life reveal complete allegiance to Him?

Passion Week Meditation

The Passion Week reminds us that Jesus’ suffering is not merely a blip on the historical radar.  It is so much more significant.  In fact, there is no greater event than Jesus’ death on the cross two millennia ago.  The work of Christ is the sun in the universe of God’s purposes as the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 1:9, “making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ.”

Once we realize that the work of Jesus is central to the mind and heart of God we are forced to grapple with the significance of all that transpired leading up to, during, and following the death of Jesus including His Triumphal Entry, His betrayal, His Jewish and Roman trials, His crucifixion, His burial, and His resurrection.  We must ask ourselves the orientation question, “Who do I say that Jesus is in light of this sequence of events?” followed by the application question, “What place does Jesus have in my life?”

Palm Sunday answers the orientation question with, “Jesus is King!”  Palm Sunday answers the application question with, “Jesus should be the Lord of my life.”  His rightful place is Sovereign of my life.  As the song writer expressed it, “King of my life, I crown Thee now, Thine shall the glory be” (Jennie Evelyn Hussey, “Lead Me to Calvary”).  The Lordship of Christ in my life means that every thought, word, and action has as its aim to please my Savior (cf. Psalm 19:14; Romans 6:13).  The risen Christ declared, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18).  Consequently, “All authority in the universe is his, and all creation owes its allegiance to him” (John Piper, What Jesus Demands from the World, 26).  Because Jesus is Lord, we are strangely off-kilter when we forbid Him to take His rightful seat on the throne of our hearts.

Is Jesus Lord of your life?

Is Tepid Worship of Christ Warm Enough?

Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910), an English non-conformist minister, said this in his commentary on Christ’s triumphal entry from Luke 19:28-40.  I appreciate the well-stated and pointed challenge to us; worth pondering.     

High-wrought emotion is a poor substitute for steady conviction. But cool, unemotional recognition of Christ as King is as unnatural. If our hearts do not glow with loyal love, nor leap up to welcome Him; if the contemplation of His work and its issues on earth and in heaven does not make our dumb tongues sing—we have need to ask ourselves if we believe at all that He is the King and Saviour of all and of us. There were cool observers there, and they make the foil to the glad enthusiasm. Note that these Pharisees, mingling in the crowd, have no title for Jesus but ‘Teacher.’ He is no king to them. To those who regard Jesus but as a human teacher, the acclamations of those to whom He is King and Lord always sound exaggerated.

People with no depth of religious life hate religious emotion, and are always seeking to repress it. A very tepid worship is warm enough for them. Formalists detest genuine feeling. Propriety is their ideal. No doubt, too, these croakers feared that this tumult might come to formidable size, and bring down Pilate’s heavy hand on them (Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: Luke, 323).

Three Paradoxes on Palm Sunday

There are at least three paradoxes in the Palm Sunday narratives which serve as both admonitions and exhortations for us today:

  • Those who knew the Scriptures best, the Pharisees, failed to see their fulfillment in Jesus (Matthew 21:15-16 [cp. Psalm 8:2]; Luke 19:39; John 12:19).  They would eventually coerce the crowds into changing their minds.
  • The King rides in on a donkey.  He is meek, not the kind of King they expected.
  • The same crowd who proclaims Jesus King would betray Him in John 19:15: “They cried out, ‘Away with him, away with him, crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar’” (cf. Mark 15:13-14; Luke 23:21; John 19:6).