Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:1-11
Holy Week is the last week of Lent when we follow Jesus from Palm Sunday to his death on Good Friday in preparation for His rising from the dead on Easter Sunday. This week is also called Passion Week because of the suffering of Jesus.
The last week of Jesus' earthly life when He faced a criminal's execution on a cruel Roman cross was an extraordinary week. Jesus knew that He was going to die in a few days.
The last Sunday of Lent is known as Palm Sunday. This is when Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem where He was greeted warmly by the crowd. Accompanied by his disciples, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt, while crowds of people covered the streets ahead of Him with their cloaks and with palm branches and sang:
“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9)
The branches of the palm trees symbolize Christ's victory over the devil and death. The word Hosanna means "Save, I pray," or "Save, now." The colt and Jesus' sitting on it and the fact that this animal was untamed and considered unclean according to the Law, signified the former uncleanness and wildness of the nations, and their subjection to the holy Law of the Gospel.
On Palm Sunday — six days before Jesus' death—people lined the streets, waving palms as Jesus entered Jerusalem. It was the first-century equivalent of our ticker-tape parades for heroes down the streets of New York City except Jesus rode in on a colt to fulfill the scriptures as recorded in Zechariah 9:9.
Jesus' popularity "at that particular time" was at an all-time high. His teaching had astonishing power. By far, Jesus was one of the most popular people in the entire Middle East, that is at that particular time.
But everyone who lined the streets had a different reason for waving those palms. Some were political activists; they had heard that Jesus had supernatural power, and they wanted Him to use it to free Israel from Roman rule. Others had loved ones who were sick or dying. They waved branches, hoping for physical healing. Some were onlookers merely looking for something to do, while others were genuine followers who wished Jesus would establish Himself as an earthly king. Jesus was the only one in the parade who knew the real reason "why" He was going to Jerusalem. Jesus was going to Jerusalem to die. Jesus had a mission while everyone else had an agenda.
As you go through this day of the Lenten season, reflect on the reason you might have been in the crowd on Palm Sunday.
Make sure you read what happened on the Monday following Palm Sunday. You will find that information in the Lenten lesson for Day 41.