Last week, the world celebrated Palm Sunday. Associate pastors across the country shouted “Hosanna!” Words like “Hallelujah!” projected across countless sanctuary screens.
Palm Sunday has a way of creeping up on us. We don’t anticipate it, but when it comes, we try our best to put on a good show and make people think we see it as important, even if we don’t understand why.
But what’s the point of Palm Sunday? Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. So what? There’s plenty of important things Jesus did leading up to His death that we don’t celebrate. Most evangelicals don’t celebrate Jesus washing feet or His Sermon on the Mount with a calendar day. What’s so special about a small episode in Jesus’ life that makes it worth naming a date on the calendar?
As a lover of history, it would tempt me to give a diatribe on the story of Palm Sunday and why we celebrate it in the 21st century. Maybe I should—and perhaps I will one day. But not today. Instead, I will explain why this church celebrates Palm Sunday.
Why We Celebrate Palm Sunday
Bayview Bible Chapel celebrates Palm Sunday to acknowledge our own weakness. The people who praised Jesus on Sunday later called for His murder on Friday. The Disciples who rode in with Jesus would later deny, desert, and doubt Him. We should see ourselves in that crowd. Those people honored Jesus but didn’t trust Him. They praised Him but didn’t follow Him. They acknowledged them as their hero, but later rejected Him as their Savior. We so often do the same thing.
Sometimes I wonder if Christ looks down on our own worship services and sees us the same way He saw those Jews in Jerusalem. I wonder if He hears our singing and sees our hand-raising, only to know that we will deny him later that week through our actions? I know it would be true of me, at least.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the exuberance of Easter. Christ rose victorious over sin, and we should celebrate that. But before we shout “amen” and clap to I Saw the Light on Easter Sunday, let’s first remember the hypocrisy of Palm Sunday. As encouraging as it may be to offer our songs and praise to Jesus, it means nothing if we do not first offer ourselves to Jesus.
The people on Palm Sunday came to prepare the way for Jesus. They did not realize that Jesus came to prepare the way for them. Jesus saw their branches and heard their Hosanna’s, but He would have much rather had them.
But the people didn’t give Him that... and that’s why we celebrate Palm Sunday. It reminds us of why next Sunday was necessary.
Last Monday, the walls of Notre Dame burned to the ground. People commonly use moments like this to “return to God.” It was only a matter of time before someone claimed to see Jesus in the flames. All across the world, crowds joined to sing “Ave Maria.” Others lit candles and held vigils. They did this, all thinking it would somehow please God, only for them to Google porn on their iPad, or get drunk at the bar later that week.
No amount of vigils, masses, or palm branches will ever please God, because the only thing that will ever please God is our devoted hearts. That was why Christ rode into Jerusalem at all. He did not come so we could break our palms for Him. He came so He could break His palms for us.
Resting in Him,