by Sandra Julian Barker
When I was a little girl, Easter was a new dress (with crinoline slip underneath), new shoes, hat, purse, and white gloves. There was a basket with curly plastic grass, real dyed eggs, a chocolate rabbit, and yellow marshmallow bunnies. Before church, my sister and I would stand outside in our finery, squinting in the morning sunshine while Mama took pictures with her little black and white Kodak camera.
At church, our Sunday school teacher always had a lesson about Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. The pastor followed suit with a similar message. Over the years, the familiarity of that message for those of us who have been church-goers most of our lives can cause us to lose the wonder of it all. How often do we stop and ponder the real meaning of Easter and the deep significance of the events that occurred during that world-changing week 2,000 years ago?
Palm Sunday marked the beginning of that final week of our Savior’s life. Many refer to Palm Sunday as “Christ’s Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem. In reality, it was no triumph at all.
The Jewish people had been looking for a Messiah who would deliver them from harsh Roman rule for many years. During that Passover week, when thoughts of deliverance and freedom were especially strong, the Jewish people were eager for a deliverer.
Into this climate, Jesus came — healing the sick, raising the dead, preaching about the wonderful kingdom of God. People were eager and hopeful that He was the conquering Messiah who would free them and usher in Jewish rule on earth.
When Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem on a donkey that day, crowds of people welcomed him. They threw garments and palm branches onto the road, shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9 NIV).
Those words should have thrilled Jesus’ heart, but brought sadness instead, because He knew that only five days later the same voices would be shouting for His death.
Matthew 23:37 (NIV) has what I’ve always considered some of the most heart-breaking words spoken by Jesus. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.”
The course of history and future of mankind was changed during that week. In spite of the sorrow, sadness and suffering Christ endured, He overcame and truly is the conquering Messiah who has freed not only His people from captivity (of sin), but the entire world as well.
With hearts that recognize the true triumph of Christ’s entry into this world and into our lives, we can praise Him in truth as we joyously sing, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
Our Savior’s great gift of salvation is cause for rejoicing: “This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (I John 4:10 NIV).
View Christ’s entry into Jerusalem through eyes that can recognize a triumphant Savior who has conquered sin and the grave. And, because He lives, we too shall live. (John 14:19 NIV)
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Sandra Julian Barker is the author of more than a dozen books, numerous magazine articles and a story in the best-selling “Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul.” Sandra has a passion for sharing the love of Christ, encouraging hope and helping others seek God’s path of purpose in their lives.
Join the conversation: What is the most meaningful part of Palm Sunday for you?