The Promise of Palm Sunday
“On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. John 12:12-13
The events of the day that we celebrate as Palm Sunday are about much more than the people waving palm branches and shouting Hosanna, blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest! Though the people were heralding the One Who they expected to set up His kingdom that day Jerusalem, His time to reign was still to come. Yes, He was indeed the King Whom they had longed to see from the time of the prophets of old, but the Kingdom He came to establish was not like the governments. It was to be a Kingdom of Righteousness and Peace.
Still, there was more that He had to do before all things would be fulfilled, before they would see their King, indeed our King, seated on His throne.
An incident of no small significance occurred the day after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Jesus and his disciples went out from Bethany where they had spent the night. It was morning and He was hungry. When He saw from afar off a fig tree with its leaves. He went toward it expecting to find figs. The leaves should have meant that there was also fruit on the tree. But when He came to it He found nothing but the leaves, because it wasn’t the season for figs.
You might ask, since it was not the time for figs why would Jesus go to it expecting to find fruit on it? There are a few plausible answers. Jesus knew and expected that the Father would provide for Him and for the disciples in ways not limited by seasons and times. If the Father chose to cause a tree to bear fruit out of season He could do it. The leaves on the tree meant there should also have been fruit. The Leaves were a type of a promise of something that could not be seen from a distance.
Jesus’ anticipation as a man was that God was providing for them. But when He found no fruit on it He realized that it was a false promise that could only have come from the one who seeks to misrepresent God’s power and authority, so Jesus cursed it and said, no man eat fruit of you ever again. The tree has also been seen as a metaphor for the Old Testament Law of Moses with its animal sacrifices, ordinances, rules and rituals that could never provide the righteousness nor bring the salvation that could only come through the all atoning blood sacrifice and death of the sinless Lamb of God.
At the moment Jesus cursed the tree there was no discernable change in the appearance of the tree. But one day later as they were returning to Jerusalem, Peter was the first to notice, the tree that Jesus had cursed was dried up from the roots. The Word Jesus spoke to the tree took effect immediately, but the outward evidence did not appear until later.
Driving out the merchants and money extorters from the Temple was in the same way a sign of removing false practices and ungodly dealings in the Holy place of God’s presence. In this too Jesus stood alone to do what was pleasing to God the Father and not to men.
Now the lesson He taught concerning the fig tree was that words have ultimate power.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Proverbs 18:21
This is a daunting proposition that most people would rather avoid than truly embrace because we lack the most basic component of using words to affect change, self-control, and discipline brought about by the force of love and forgiveness. If we really believed and understood how much our words affect the circumstances and people around us we would be very careful and deliberate about the things we say at all times.
For the people of that day who looked for and hoped that their King had come, that day pointed to another day of ultimate sacrifice that had to come first. Likewise, for us the promise of Palm Sunday is that there will be a day of celebration of our King, Who will come to rule and reign forever, but first, there had to come a Good Friday. And how perplexing a name to give to a day of remembrance of such cruel suffering and death. Yet it was good for several reasons.
It was good in that the law of sin and death was satisfied and could no longer hold sway over mankind and those who believe in Jesus would be returned to right relationship with God the Father. It was good in that Jesus finished what He had to do and overcame death hell and the grave for us. It was good in that through His blood we now have peace with God and our sins are forgiven, by His stripes we are healed, God is now freely giving us all things and through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, we now have eternal life.
But the price that was paid was precious and costly beyond measure.
Indeed today we sing,
Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes
In the name of the Lord!
Blessed be the kingdom of our father David,
that cometh in the name of the Lord
Hosanna in the highest!