Celebrating Palm Sunday - and the Passion

Celebrating Palm Sunday - and the Passion
Art by Amy, 11, Wesley Community Center, Houston, Texas. From the 2021 Prayer Calendar.

Mark 11: 1-11, 14:1-15:47

This Sunday, Christian churches throughout the world will celebrate Palm Sunday, the day of Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. As we read in Mark, chapter 11, the crowds are in the street, waving palm branches, saying, “Hosanna, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”  Churches usually make a special effort to include children on this Sunday, often asking them to proceed down the aisle of the church waving palm branches as the congregation sings, “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna.” Palm branches were symbolic of a victory with integrity, so Jesus was seen as the righteous deliverer of the people. Yet, in only a few days, the crowds will turn against him and shout, “Crucify him!  Crucify him!” What happened?

While many churches celebrate Palm Sunday, they also include the Passion and end the service with Christ’s death upon the cross. At my church, we begin our service with the palms and the shouts of “Hosanna,” but end by singing “Were You There” as we each go and place a nail in the wooden cross at the front of our sanctuary. We know just how fickle a crowd can be. The crowd can quickly be roused into a riot. We only have our own recent experience as a nation on January 6 to show us that fact.

In the 14th and 15th chapters of Mark, we read that in those few days, Jesus angered the religious authorities, caused problems for the Roman governor, and refused to defend himself to the angry mob. Jesus did that because that was why he came to earth, to become the sacrifice for sins, those then and ours today. Too many people want to skip the passion of Christ. They enjoy the waving of palm branches and returning the next Sunday for the words, “He is risen; he is risen indeed.” But there could be no Easter without Good Friday. We must face the cross, along with Christ. We must realize it is for us that he suffered and died. May we never forget the significance of those few days, even as we celebrate the coming of Sunday morning.

Darlene Gardner is the Western North Carolina Conference spiritual growth coordinator.

Posted or updated: 3/25/2021 12:00:00 AM