Ginrich's Devotional Blog

April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday

Filed under: Bible,Christ,devotion,God,Jesus — by ginrich @ 6:20 pm

I have never used any of me sermons for a devotion but I was asked by several people to post this that I shared at our evening service. Usually I have no notes but since this topic required my research I did.

The Triumphal Entry
John 12:13. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him. They began to shout, “ Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!”

Palm tree. Under this generic term many species are botanically included; but we will only talk about the date palm. While this tree was abundant generally in the eastern Mediterranean, it was regarded by the ancients as peculiarly characteristic of Palestine and the neighboring regions, though now it is rare. The palm tree frequently attains a height of eighty feet, but more commonly forty to fifty. It begins to bear fruit after it has been planted six or eight years, and continues to be productive for a century. Its trunk is straight, tall and unbroken, terminating in a crown of emerald-green plumes, like gigantic ostrich-feathers; these leaves are frequently twenty feet in length, droop slightly at the ends, and whisper musically in the breeze.

The palm is, in truth, a beautiful and most useful tree. Its fruit is the daily food of millions; its sap furnishes an agreeable wine; the fibers of the base of its leaves are woven into ropes and rigging; its tall stem supplies a valuable timber; its leaves are manufactured into brushes, mats, bags, couches and baskets. Palm oils have been made into both butter and soap. The seeds of palms were boiled into a medicinal drink or were dried and used as nuts. If they were allowed to dry a long time, they became hard and transparent and made durable beads and trinkets. They even used them to make huts for special religious celebrations.

Many places are mentioned in the Bible as having connection with palm trees; Elim, where grew three score and ten palm trees, (Exodus 15:27 ) and Elath. ( 2:8 ) Palms are in the Bible 38 times. Jericho was the city of Palm oils known for making both butter and soap. Many names in the Bible come from the word palm: Tamar, “the palm.” ( Ezekiel 47:19 ) Bethany means the “house of dates.” The word Phoenicia, which occurs twice in the New Testament — (Acts 11:19 ; 15:3 ) –is in all probability derived from the Greek word for a palm.

There is in Psalms 92:12 the familiar comparison, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree.” which suggests a world of illustration whether respect be had to the orderly and regular aspect of the tree, its fruitfulness, the perpetual greenness of its foliage, or the height at which the foliage grows, as far as possible from earth and as near as possible to heaven. The elasticity of the fiber of the palm and its determined growth upward even when loaded with weights.

The passage in (Revelation 7:9 ) where the glorified of all nations are described as “clothed with white robes and palms in their hands,” might seem to us a purely classical image; but palm branches were used by the Jews in token of victory and peace. Date palm is a symbol of resurrection. The people didn’t know they were heralding the resurrection as well.

Its principle of growth: it is an endogen, (grows from the inside and in height); its usefulness; the Syrians enumerating 360 different uses to which it may be put; it bears its best fruit in old age.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the trees were in bloom, so in covering the way with palm branches, the people were offering a symbol of great value and luxury. But palms were a symbol of necessity, too. To the Jews, palm branches represented a gift from God because of their many uses in the people’s lives. The palm was so important, this one tree supplies almost all the wants of the Arabs or Egyptians that when countries in the area went to war, they cut away the enemy’s palm branches, causing their enemy to suffer from the loss of food and other necessities. This is why all the palm trees were burned by the victors in a defeated country. That’s also why they’re scarce now.

Strewing palm branches at Jesus’ feet, then, was a symbol of the giving up of worldly goods, both necessities and luxuries. The people loved and honored Jesus, and they showed their love and honor by lining His path with something very important to them.

The significance of Jesus riding a donkey and having his way paved with palm branches is a fulfillment of a prophecy spoken by the prophet Zechariah some 450-500 years earlier, (Zechariah 9:9). “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. In biblical times, the regional custom called for kings and nobles arriving in procession to ride on the back of a donkey. The donkey (or domesticated ***) was a symbol of peace; those who rode upon them proclaimed peaceful intentions. Matthew 21:7-9 records the fulfillment of that prophecy: “They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. 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 to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!” We’re still talking about the events which took place on the Sunday before Jesus’ crucifixion. The laying of palm branches indicated that the king or dignitary was arriving in victory or triumph.

After Palm Sunday the palm leaves are burned and the ashes are saved for Ash Wednesday the next year.

Palm Sunday ranks as one of Christianity’s holiest days, second only to Christmas and Easter. Palm Sunday falls on the last Sunday of Lent (the Sunday before Easter) and marks the beginning of Holy Week. In the simplest of terms, Palm Sunday is an occasion for reflecting on the final week of Jesus’ life. It is a time for Christians to prepare their hearts for the agony of His Passion and the joy of His Resurrection. John 1:11 tells us, “He (Jesus) came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.” The same crowds that were crying out “Hosanna” were crying out “crucify Him” five days later (Matthew 27:22-23). Do we honor Him one day and deny Him with our words or actions another day?

So what do we get from this information? Besides knowing the significance of what the palm represented, there are lessons for our own spiritual growth. We are to grow in the inside and it will show on the outside. We are to grow in height toward our God, straight towards Him, nor taking any turns away. Be elastic, stretchable for growth through challenges and difficulties without breaking, We are to be flexible in the winds of His Holy Spirit. All of our being, all we say, do and think should be useful to God for His glory and the building up of His kingdom.

Think about it. What represents the most to you that you would waive to celebrate and welcome the coming of your King, Jesus when He returns in triumph for His Bride? How will you commemorate this Holy Week? Thursday for the Last Supper, Friday for the crucifixion, Easter Sunday for the resurrection, maybe at sunrise?

I Am the Vine

Filed under: Bible,Christ,devotion,God,Jesus,Lent — by ginrich @ 1:00 am

John 15:1. I Am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.

The gardener plants, nourishes and cares for the vine. Jesus says He is the vine and His Father is the gardener Who planted Him, nourishes Him and cares for Him. In John 15:5 Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me-and I in him-bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing.” Just as Jesus is cared for and nourished by the Father, we are also nourished and cared for, but only if we stay attached to the vine, Jesus. To stay attached we must abide in Him. To abide means to live with and in. We must be aware of Jesus within us and us within Him throughout each and every day. Psalms is full of words of meditating on Him throughout the day and night. Our question is how often are we aware of His very real presence with us and our very real presence with Him?

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