Listen to this devotional:
Matthew 21:8-11 – A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!" When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?" The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee." (NIV)
Every year, our church gives out resilient, green palm branches as a reminder of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We usually receive them as we enter the church. Last year, I hung mine across the top of a painting in my living room. But now, they are yellowed, withered, and brittle with the year's passing.
The painting I hung them across is a Calvary scene. Three dark crosses in relief against a darkened sky mount a dark hill. Louring grey skies are pierced by a ray of brilliant golden light which falls across the middle cross. A placard, also in shadowy relief, identifies the centre one as the cross of Christ.
By hanging the fresh, fragrant palms across the top of this picture, I am reminded that Palm Sunday is the beginning of the week when we meditate upon Christ's passion. The freshness of the palms is also a reminder of the new life which Christ offers to those who believe on Him. But even more, I am constantly reminded of His grace.
As I pass the painting, I also notice the palms. They remind me of what happens over time to new life when it is cut off from the source of life. It withers. It yellows with age. It becomes brittle. It ultimately atrophies.
But the painting primarily reminds me of the awful price the Son of God paid, not only for my own personal waywardness, but also for the waywardness of our world. In contrast, the ray of light points me forward to the hope of Easter Sunday, when Jesus arose.
John 3:16-18 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. (NIV)
Prayer: Thank You, heavenly Father, for sending Jesus, Your Son, to atone for my waywardness. Thank You for the offer of pardon found in Jesus for the rebellion of the world. Lord Jesus, help us always to let this great act of Your love and grace be uppermost in our minds as we contemplate Your passion, for we pray in Your name. Amen.