Palm Sunday is one of the most significant and important days in the Christian calendar. In fact, there are basically four important days in the Christian calendar which are; Christmas, Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter and it marks the beginning of the holy week. The holy week is the week we believe in which our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ died. Therefore, the occasion of Palm Sunday is to remember the day in which Jesus went triumphantly into Jerusalem as recorded in the books of Matthew chapter twenty one, Mark chapter eleven and Luke chapter nineteen. Palm Sunday is an integral part of Easter as it marks the last journey of Jesus on earth.
On this day (Palm Sunday), as recorded by the Holy Scripture, Jesus went into Jerusalem on a donkey to fulfill the prophecy that was given by Zachariah the prophet. The donkey on which Jesus moved on Palm Sunday was significant as we may ask questions like, why not a horse? Why not a cow? Why not this and why not that? Why must it be a donkey?
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WHY JESUS USED A DONKEY ON PALM SUNDAY
1) To fulfill prophecy: One striking thing about the bible is that its prophecies are fulfilled the exact way they are released. The pattern of fulfillment of the prophecies are not close to the way they are been made but rather they are 100% accurate. Prophet Zachariah prophesied in the book of Zachariah chapter nine verse nine saying, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” Ass is another name for donkey. Therefore, Jesus went to Jerusalem, riding upon an ass because it has been prophesied of Him many years before His coming.
2) Donkeys are heavy load carriers: I had the privilege of growing up in the northern part of Nigeria. There, we see that donkeys are used to carry heavy loads from one point to the other. In most cases, the distance they have to cover with such a heavy load on them are so much. As the saviour of the whole world, Jesus came to Jerusalem, riding on a donkey on Palm Sunday to signify that He came to carry the sins of the world. He came to carry, not the sins of one man, not the sins of a country neither is it the sin of a continent. He came to carry the sins of the whole world including generations unborn.
3) Donkeys are calm and peaceful: Do you still remember that Jesus is the prince of peace? The donkey has the attributes of Jesus in terms of being calmness and peace. One might ask why He never came on a horse, despite the fact that horse and donkey look-alike. Horses are used for war and battle but that was not what Jesus came for. He came for peace and therefore, on this unique Sunday, known as Palm Sunday, He came to Jerusalem, riding on an ass.
4) To identify with common people: Jesus also decided to go with a donkey on Palm Sunday in order to identify with common people. His Lordship and Leadership is not just for the high profiled men in the society but also for the common people. He could have gone to Jerusalem on a chariot but He decided to go on a donkey.
5) Donkeys are humble animals: Another important point and reason why Jesus came to on a horse back on Palm Sunday was because donkeys are humble animals. Donkeys are so humble that they carry out every instruction given to them, no matter how unfavourable they might seem. Remember Balaam’s donkey in the book of Numbers.22:21-30. Jesus Christ came as a humble king and saviour. Imagine the saviour of the whole world (a man whose coming was prophesied more than 300 times in the Old Testament), been born in a manger into the family of a poor family where carpentry is their main stay. That depicts humility and now, Christ has laid this example for us to follow.
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6) His choice: Permit me to say that on the Palm Sunday, it was also His choice to go into Jerusalem on a donkey. After all, He could have refused to use a donkey. Most of His journeys on earth were done on foot so He could have decided to go on foot as well; rather, He chose to go on a donkey.
SIGNIFICANCE OF PALM BRANCHES
If you read the bible, you will also discover that the people laid palm fronds on the road and some laid their clothes as Jesus was going into Jerusalem on the Palm Sunday. In fact, it was because palm branches were used on that Sunday that we refer to that Sunday as Palm Sunday. Why was Palm branches chosen? Why not other trees and plants. Palm trees are very significant and such was used on Palm Sunday. Many things make palm branches significant but here are few.
1) No part of a palm tree is wasted: If you take a close look at palm trees, no part of it is wasted. Every part of the palm tree is useful. Some products that could be gotten from the palm tree include; oil, kernel, broom, basket, mats etc. no part of the life and Ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ was wasted and can ever be wasted. Therefore, palm branches signify the usefulness of our Lord.
2) Palm trees are high in height: The height of a palm tree makes it outstanding and conspicuous among many other trees in the bush. The life of our Lord Jesus Christ is so and for that purpose, He is referred to as the Most High and God also exalted Him above every other name.
3) Royalty: It was the palm fronds that the people laid on the ground on that Palm Sunday that led to the introduction of what we now call red carpet. It stands for royalty and respect. The people spread palm fronds for Him as a mark of royalty and respect.
4) Palm trees signify goodness, wellbeing and victory: The righteous shall flourish like palm tree. This is to say that palm trees signify wellbeing. In Revelations chapter seven verse nine, the bible said, “After this, I beheld, and, lo a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations and kindred and people and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands”. This multitude refers to those who were victorious after all they passed through in this world.
5) Palm trees are also significant in heaven: From the book of revelation as quoted above, we see also that palm trees are also significant in heaven; therefore, the people laid palm fronds for Him on the ground.
In conclusion, Palm Sunday remains significant I the Christian calendar, but should not be celebrated as a usual ritual. We must understand that the beginning and end of Jesus life and ministry was aimed at saving us from sin. Therefore, if you are not saved, you have to do it now and accept Jesus into your life. Go on your knees wherever you are. Also, remember that when Jesus got into the temple on the Palm Sunday, he turned the tables of the money changers and drove them away. This is a process of cleansing. Jesus is ready to cleanse you only if you can come to Him willingly.
Therefore, from this day henceforth, celebrate Palm Sunday meaningfully.