John 12:12-13 – The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord — the King of Israel!" (NRSV)
There is always something wonderful and stirring about Palm Sunday. Many of us celebrate by waving palm fronds in our churches just the way the people did at the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem. We sing songs with the words "Hosanna" in them, and we get ourselves into a jubilant and expectant mood. In many churches it is almost a party atmosphere.
Most of us don't associate with what the symbols really mean. The word "Hosanna", when translated from the Greek, means "Save us, we beseech thee." The palm fronds were used to show the sovereignty of a head of state. No wonder the Pharisees were so upset with the people for shouting "Hosanna!" and waving palm branches. The people expected this person entering Jerusalem to deliver them from the cruel oppression of Rome and to reinstate the line of David on the throne of Israel. The Pharisees were afraid of Roman retaliation and maybe even a little afraid for their positions and jobs.
Little did they realize that they were on the right track. The deliverer had come to them, but not in the way they had thought. The King of all kings had come, but not in the way they expected.
Hindsight is so wonderful. Now we can look back and say to ourselves, "How could those people not have realized just who this was, riding into their midst on the back of a donkey?"
So, yes, it is important that we still wave the palm fronds and shout hosannas. We need to acknowledge that we have been delivered by the King of kings, that on this special Sunday we are welcoming into our service, into our lives, and into our hearts, the Saviour of the world. We know who this man is who is coming meekly on the back of a donkey. We know the importance of what is happening.
So this Palm Sunday as you sing your hosannas and maybe wave your palm fronds, also say "Welcome, Lord Jesus, into my life."
Prayer: Lord Jesus, as we celebrate this Palm Sunday, help us to realize and also to believe that we are doing something very special. Help us to welcome you as the Saviour of the world. Also help us to stay with you for the next week as we see and feel the agony of the cross and the glory of the Resurrection. Amen.