Have we ever needed Palm Sunday more?
It's Palm Sunday. But maybe it feels more like face-in-palms Sunday.
This Holy Week doesn't look like the ones we've had in previous years. There won't be a Palm Sunday service. There won't be egg hunts. There is no need to pull out our pastel Sunday best. We won't gather with a large group of loved ones for an Easter Sunday lunch full of springtime salads and casseroles, and we won't admire the centerpieces of tulips. Actually, there may still be tulips, but there likely will be limits on bath tissue. And we definitely won't gather with so many for communal worship on Easter Sunday to praise God for sending His Son as the atoning sacrifice for our many, many sins.
It's different. But that doesn't make this week any less holy. And have we ever needed a reminder of hope more?
So let's take it back to the original Palm Sunday.
They brought the donkey and the colt; then they laid their clothes on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their clothes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. Then the crowds who went ahead of him and those who followed shouted: "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!" When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in an uproar, saying, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” Matthew 21:7-11
When I read the story of the Triumphal Entry in each of the Gospels, what captured my attention was the reaction of the crowds. I'm picturing the Walk of Champions when Ole Miss was good at football.
The crowds "shouted" (verse 9), praising Him and blessing Him. The last time Jesus was in this place, He raised Lazarus from the dead. There is wonder and awe in the crowd. Who is this man who brings life to the dead? They cut branches and palm leaves—was this an early version of today's wedding sparklers? Jesus was welcomed in.
And while we know not everyone welcomed Jesus as He entered into Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday, we do know that we can welcome Him into our hearts and homes on this Palm Sunday. Have we ever needed His Triumphal Entry more? Have we ever been in such a place to enter into His presence? Is He less worthy of our praise because of COVID-19 and how it's affecting all of our lives?
To all of those questions: no. Our Jesus today is the same Jesus that entered Jerusalem and died on the cross days later to change our lives forever. He saved us so that we may know a day with no more disease, no more pandemic, no more suffering. He saved us for days full of hosanna—worship and praise to our Savior.
I challenge you to find new ways to praise Him this week. Put on your headphones and listen to hymns, read the Holy Week story in the Gospels, put your phone away and spend time in prayer, write out a list of gifts from above that you can thank Him for... so many parts of life may be "on hold", but your worship of Jesus doesn't have to be.
May we all seek and find His presence, may we find our own metaphorical palm leaves to wave in praise, and may we not miss the Light that shines amidst this ever-present darkness.