About Palm Sunday

Two observations…

About palms. Jerusalem is approximately one-half mile above sea level. High enough for snow to fall. Thus, palm trees may not have been plentiful. Matthew mentions “branches.”[1] Mark, “leafy branches.”[2] Luke, no branches. Only John references “branches of palm trees.”[3]

About crowds. Matthew speaks of “a very large crowd.” However, the Greek text can be translated “most of the crowd.” Thus, probably not all of Jerusalem witnessed Jesus’ triumphal procession.

Nevertheless, I do not mistake Jesus’ intent.

This was no parade of celebration; much less, entertainment. Rather This was Jesus’ self-defining proclamation as God’s Messiah come to fulfill ancient prophecies of salvation.[4]

No surprise that this declaration was made in Jerusalem; the religious and political center of Judaism. There, Jesus threw down the gauntlet of the call to repent to the theological and political leadership.

And no surprise that Jesus, having wept for the sake of an unrepentant people,[5] to demonstrate this challenge, cleansed the Temple of the money-changers and sellers of sacrificial animals; whose rapacious, fraudulent commerce defamed God’s holy place.[6]

Jesus’ claiming his identity and the challenge of his ministry presaged his death; always, for me, as his follower, a graphic reminder of my chiefest allegiance. Not to the powers of this world, whether political or religious. But to God and to God alone.

© 2022 PRA


Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641)

Christ Driving Money Changers from the Temple, Domḗnikos Theotokópoulos (aka El Greco) (1541-1614)

[1] Matthew 21.8

[2] Mark 11.8

[3] John 12.13

[4] See, for example, Isaiah 62.11 (The Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to daughter Zion, “See, your salvation comes; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him”) and Zechariah 9.9 (Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.).

[5] Luke 19.41-44

[6] Luke 19.45-46

3 thoughts on “About Palm Sunday

  1. Thank you, Paul. I find myself wondering, as Palm Sunday approaches tomorrow, which of our American “Temples” Jesus might enter and cleanse in our time. Whatever they might be, I have a pretty strong feeling that the following week would play out pretty much today as it did in Jesus’ time, although perhaps much more quickly, given the ubiquity and popularity of firearms.


    1. My dearest sister, sadly, I wholeheartedly agree with you.



  2. Ohhhhh I think Karen hit it right on the head!! Things would have moved much more swiftly today!!

    I totally agree with Paul that our allegiance should always be to One God!! I wish we could cleanse all of the unrepentant people from the world!!

    Love to you both!!!



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