Sunday 28th March 2021
One of the key features of Jesus arrival in Jerusalem was the waving of Palm branches. In the ancient world, Palm branches were regarded as tokens of joy and triumph and were customarily used on festive occasions (Leviticus 23:40, Nehemiah 8:15). Kings and conquerors were welcomed with palm branches being strewn before them and waved in the air. It was a way for a crowd to recognise their victory and power. However, as we all know the crowd on Palm Sunday got it wrong. Jesus was not arriving as a warrior king, but as a king of peace. He was not arriving to take up battle against Rome, but against the power evil, sin and death.
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
One of the great visions given in the Book of Revelation, is of a great multitude surrounding the throne of God. A multitude so great that it cannot be counted. Note what the people are holding – palm branches. The crowd on Palm Sunday might have got it wrong with their misplaced expectations, but the crowd gathered around the throne of God get it right. Palm branches used in their correct context as tokens of worship and praise! The righteous hold palm branches while proclaiming eternal victory to our Saviour, the one who saved us from sin.
Hosanna, you are the God who saves us, worthy of all our praises.
Triumphant Lord, We rejoice in your entry into the world and into our lives!
Joining with the crowds, we sing your praises and exalt your reign,
but even so, our hearts are far from true worship,
our minds are distant from true understanding.
We are disappointed with your humility,
we are uninspired by your selflessness.
Our sin leads us to give you death
even though you give us life.
Our treachery guides us to war
even though you call us to peace.
Help us to reflect in our lives the glory of your Son
and to live faithfully here and now.
Have mercy on us, Savior of all,
find us in these forsaken places.
Forgive what we have done and who we have been.
Bring us home again and impart within us a new song of joy and celebration.
The God of peace,
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great shepherd of the sheep,
through the blood of the eternal covenant,
make you perfect in every good work to do his will,
working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight;
and the blessing of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit be with you forevermore Amen