Palm Sunday is the sixth and last Sunday of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week. Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem for the Jewish festival of Passover. Great crowds of people lined the streets waving palm branches to welcome him. The people were very excited. They spread branches on the road – and even laid down their clothes. They shouted ‘Hosanna!’ which means ‘Save us Now!’
The date for Palm Sunday 2010 is 28 March
Holy Week is the week before Easter, commemorating events in the last days of Jesus’ life on Earth. It begins on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Monday.
These are my personal meditations on Palm Sunday.
Over 2000 years ago you rode into the city that would be the death of you. You rode on a young donkey, and people flocked to see you and lay down palm leaves and their clothes on the road in front of you. They called out to you with shouts of excitement for who they, in their narrow minds, thought you were ~ deliverer from the oppression of the Roman rule, catalyst for a new power, a new age, a warrior prophet ~ one whose words promised a better way.
“Hosanna in the highest,” they cried out in a euphoria that passed in waves throughout the crowd. Did they wonder why their future King rode on a donkey? Did they question your lack of weapons or armor? Did they wonder what action you would take in the capital, who you would see, what you would say? Or were they merely curious about this one whom they heard had raised the dead?
And your closest followers ~ what were they thinking? You had given them fair warning on several occasions yet did they really fully understand that your journey to Jerusalem would be a one way trip? As the crowds screamed, did the disciples glance at one another with a hint of pride to be counted as one of your friends? Or did they get caught up in the party atmosphere and miss the look of intent on your holy face?
What gripped Peter’s heart that day? A warrior’s heart, was he preparing for a fight? And Judas, where was his heart as he walked beside his comrades? Was Satan working on him even then? Did he feel discomfort, embarrassment at the spectacle his teacher was creating? Did he lag just slightly behind the rest, distancing himself from direct eye contact with you?
Who was in that cheering crowd? How many of those whom you had touched with your healing hands, had received your life-changing words where there watching, celebrating, feeling a renewed and overwhelming thankfulness mixed with disbelief at what you had done for them?
Did the man with the once withered hand lay his coat on the road in front of you? Did the bleeding woman, fully healed, weep for joy? Did the demon-possessed, now spirit filled one, sing songs of freedom that day?
And then you passed by, and they watched your figure grow smaller in the distance, the sounds of rejoicing fading with you. What happened to them then? As they returned to their homes, their vocations, their families, what occurred in the hearts of so many who, only a few days later, would be part of another crowd of people screaming, ‘Crucify him, crucify him!”?
And sadly I see, in that fickle crowd, a snapshot of myself. My heart full of adoration one day then side-tracked the next, allowing circumstances to dictate my feelings and overrule my heart for you. My intentions for service, love, relationship grand and strong, and then slowly becoming complacent. And I , like Judas perhaps, avert my eyes in embarrassment and shame for who I am, for my lack, for my defeat and I drift even further from you as I choose to look inward rather than into your eyes.
Fall on God’s grace, you say! Let go and let God! Surrender! Yield! And my heart cries, “Yes”, while my head asks, “How often”? How often must I revisit this place of surrender, of repentance, of crying out to God to rescue me from my self? How often? As often as it takes. Over and over and over again.
I choose you. In all my imperfection and fickle faith, I still choose you.
And when I fall or grow tired, complacent and ashamed, I will choose to come to you again and again and again – to get a fresh look into your eyes – to fall on your mercy and grace – and to call out “Hosanna to my King”.