Thoughts on Palm Sunday
As we’ve done the past four years, we will be spending Palm Sunday weekend at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference amid California’s glorious coastal redwood forest. Encountering such natural beauty—from towering trees to chattering Steller’s jays—serves as a striking reminder of our Creator’s power and majesty. And it’s a great way to begin Holy Week.
Here we share our individual reflections on Palm Sunday and offer a collection of RTB resources about other Holy Week observances.
Celebrate the King of Glory!
My childhood memories of Palm Sunday include parades of palm-waving children, women dancing with ribbons, and a familiar church member dressed up as Jesus. It was corny, but when we sang “Hosanna in the Highest!” my young heart felt all the joy that accompanies the commencement of Holy Week.
An article on the Gospel.com blog describes Palm Sunday as a day of expectation. The Jews of Jesus’ time expected an earthly king to free them from Roman power, but Jesus himself was anticipating his own death. The article explains, “Palm Sunday is a vivid example of Jesus giving us not what we want, but what we need.”
As Christians, we celebrate Palm Sunday in anticipation of Easter. What a marvelous thing: Jesus, God made flesh, died for sinful humanity’s sake and then rose from the grave to conquer death! Words don’t do justice to the joy that still fills my heart at the thought of such love and hope.
Here’s video from Second Baptist Church, Houston that to me beautifully declares believers’ joy in Christ.
His Triumph, His Death, Our Hope
As a kid, I would spend the entire Palm Sunday Mass completely absorbed in making an intricate cross out of the palm fronds distributed to congregants (and if I failed, my friend Eric’s dad was always there to offer his own handmade crosses). As an adult, I spend Holy Week absorbing Scripture passages that unfold the events of Christ’s last days (leading up to His resurrection).
The week begins with Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. As He rode in, a crowd of people spread their cloaks and tree branches onto the road shouting “Hosanna in the highest!” The next day His authority was questioned. By Wednesday there was a plot against Him, followed the next day by His arrest and trial. By Friday, He was sentenced to be crucified, died, and was buried.
The events of Holy Week reveal, in quick time, why we need a Savior. Moreover these meaningful events illustrate Christ’s immense love for humanity. Fickle and disloyal though we may be, Christ still moved forward to accept sin’s punishment on our behalf. It’s clear this man was the Son of God!
Here’s a video of “True Love” by Phil Wickham with scenes from The Passion of the Christ. To me, the lyrics and visuals powerfully convey the work Christ did and the great hope that we have because of it.
Holy Week Resources from RTB
“It Is a Good Friday” (blog) by Sandra
“Remember Me” (blog) by Maureen
“Understanding Lent” (blog) by Sandra
“Christ’s Cross: Its Four-Fold Distinctive Meaning” (article) by Kenneth Samples
“Resurrection: What’s the Story?” (podcast) from Straight Thinking
“Resurrection: What’s the Historical Evidence?” (podcast) from Straight Thinking
“Resurrection: Humanity’s Greatest Hope” (podcast) from Straight Thinking
“If Christ Had Not Been Raised from the Dead: Reasoning through the Resurrection” (article) by Kenneth Samples
“Christianity’s Dangerous Ideas” (article) by Kenneth Samples
As RTB philosopher/theologian Kenneth Samples points out in the last article listed above, the resurrection of Christ is a dangerous, world-changing idea. His new book, 7 Truths that Changed the World, explores this and six other dangerous ideas from Christianity. Look for this latest RTB resource, coming spring 2012.