“A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna (Deliver us!) to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!'” – Matthew 21:8-9
There’s probably a few out there thinking to themselves, “Oh great. What negative stuff is that excatholic4christ guy going to say about Palm Sunday?” No, let’s not be “negative” but let’s make sure we glorify Jesus Christ in all we say and do!
When Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the crowd spread palm branches on the road, a customary way in those times of honoring a triumphant king returning from battle. They called out “Deliver us!” to this One many were whispering was the long promised Messiah, hoping He would save them from the Roman oppression. They were looking for someone to deliver them from their physical circumstances, not a spiritual redeemer.
This morning, millions of chamaedorea palm fronds were distributed in Catholic churches and other liturgical-based denominations in commemoration of Jesus’ triumphal entry. Most of the fronds were imported from South and Central America. In Catholicism, priests bless the fronds, making them holy “sacramentals” prior to being passed out. Catholics take the fronds home and put them on display, believing they will bring special blessings to the dwelling and its occupants. They replace them every year on Palm Sunday. Old palms must not be discarded in the trash since they are holy objects. They should be burned or buried. Priests use the ashes of the previous year’s palms fronds for Ash Wednesday.
Like the crowds lining the path to Jerusalem, Catholics miss the boat when it comes to Jesus. They’re focused on the physical instead of the spiritual. A palm frond is NOT holy and brings no blessings. Rituals and ceremonies can remind us of Jesus but they have no saving power. Unfortunately, the institutionalized church replaced simple, saving faith in Jesus Christ as Savior with liturgy, formalism, ceremony, and ritual. Accepting Jesus as Savior by faith turned into receiving a consecrated bread wafer in the mouth as part of a distorted, ritualistic religious system.
Turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior by faith. Being a church member won’t save you. Trying to obey the Ten Commandments won’t save you, for the Law only shows us we’re sinners in need of a Savior. Once you accept Christ, only then can you follow Him as Lord.
“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” – Romans 3:19-20
I can remember Palm Sunday with its palm fronds being a very important day in our Catholic family. We thought it was neat to come home from church with something tangible. I think all of my five sisters placed their palms over their window curtain rails in their bedrooms when they were children and young teens. It was all part of the ritual. Today, all of my sisters are in their sixties and none of them attend church. They say they don’t even believe in God. They all started off with plenty of religion but they never had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They were all baptized as infants, indoctrinated in the sacraments of penance, the eucharist, and confirmation. Each had eight years of Catholic grammar school and four years of Catholic high school. Three of the five were married by a priest. But they never accepted Jesus as their Savior and now they deny Him like the Jewish crowd denied Him just a few days after Palm Sunday.