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Palm Sunday: Its significance & our responses

Palm Sunday holds profound significance for Christians as it marks the beginning of Holy Week, the most sacred and impactful week in the Christian calendar. Palm Sunday is special because it commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.


The people expected a conquering king

The Jewish people had long awaited the arrival of the Messiah, the promised deliverer of the Old Testament scriptures. As Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, riding on a donkey, the crowd recognised Him as the fulfilment of these messianic prophecies. The crowds greeted Jesus by waving palm branches and spreading them on the road before Him, and shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”


The title "Son of David" was a messianic title, referring to the expectation that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David. Throughout the Old Testament, there are prophecies about a future king from the lineage of David who would establish an everlasting kingdom (2 Samuel 7:12-16). By addressing Jesus as the "Son of David”, the crowd was acknowledging Him as the fulfilment of these messianic prophecies. The Jewish people, under Roman rule during Jesus' time, longed for deliverance and liberation from foreign oppression. They hoped that the Messiah would come as a conquering king to overthrow their oppressors and establish a kingdom of peace and prosperity. As Jesus entered Jerusalem, the crowd saw Him as the fulfilment of this hope and expressed their longing for deliverance by shouting "Hosanna," which means "save us" or "deliver us."

Jesus came riding on a donkey

Jesus chose not to be associated with the pomp and grandeur of a conquering king when he entered Jerusalem. Instead of riding into Jerusalem on a magnificent horse or chariot, as a conquering king might do, Jesus chose to ride on a humble donkey. This act symbolised humility and simplicity. It was a deliberate choice by Jesus to fulfil the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, which foretold the coming of the Messiah in humility: "Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey."


Despite the shouts of "Hosanna" and the waving of palm branches, Jesus knew that his triumphal entry would lead to His crucifixion. He understood the fickle nature of the crowd's praise, as many of those who hailed Him as king on Palm Sunday would later turn against Him. Knowing this, Jesus did not seek glory or accolades. Instead, He remained focused on fulfilling His Father's will, even if it meant suffering and death.


Throughout His ministry, Jesus consistently modelled servant leadership. He taught His disciples that greatness in the Kingdom of God comes through service and humility (Matthew 20:26-28). By choosing to enter Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus exemplified this servant-hearted approach to leadership. He did not seek power or dominion over others but instead demonstrated love, compassion and selflessness.


Jesus' humility on Palm Sunday is seen in His submission to God's will, even unto death on the cross. Despite the acclaim of the crowd, Jesus knew that His mission was to lay down His life as a sacrifice for the sins of humanity. He willingly embraced the path of suffering and obedience, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done" (Luke 22:42).


Our responses

As Christians reflecting on the momentous event of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, there are meaningful responses we can consider:·    

  • Humble Obedience: Like Jesus, we should cultivate a spirit of humble obedience to God's will in our lives. This involves submitting our desires, ambitions and plans to God's guidance and trusting in His sovereignty, even when the path ahead may be difficult or uncertain.


  • Servant Leadership: Palm Sunday reminds us of the importance of the servant leadership modelled by Jesus. As followers of Christ, we are called to lead with humility, compassion and selflessness, seeking to serve others rather than seeking power or recognition for ourselves.

  • Faithful Witness: Palm Sunday challenges us to be faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ in our words and actions. Just as Jesus boldly entered Jerusalem to fulfil His mission, we are called to boldly proclaim the Gospel message of salvation and reconciliation to a world in need of hope and redemption.

  • Sacrificial Love: Jesus' willingness to sacrifice Himself for the sake of humanity demonstrates the depth of God's love for us. In response, we are called to love sacrificially, laying down our lives for others, serving those in need and embodying the love of Christ in our relationships and communities.


In conclusion, our response is that our lives should be characterised by humble obedience, servant leadership, faithful witness, and sacrificial love. As we journey through Holy Week and beyond, may we be transformed by the profound truths revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. - Deacon Lee Pak Choon

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