Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:1-11
May we welcome you into our lives with joy.
May our words and our actions give you honor.
And may we follow you, even when it is difficult.
We might expect an important person to ride into the city on a big horse with a lot of soldiers and banners and trumpets. That is how Caesar entered Jerusalem when he came. But Jesus rides in on a donkey, just tottering along. The people get excited anyway. They shout “Hosanna” (which means “save us”) and spread palm branches and cloaks on the ground.
It is interesting that the Jewish people recognize Jesus as a prophet, even though he just looks like an ordinary guy on a donkey. And I wonder how they were able to recognize him. How did they know that Jesus was something special?
I’m sure many people in that Palm Sunday crowd knew the scriptures. They remembered the prophecy from Zechariah: “Your king comes to you gentle and riding on a donkey.”
I imagine that some of them had met Jesus before. They had heard his wise and startling words. They had seen him perform miracles. Maybe some of them had been healed themselves. They knew his reputation for standing up to power. They had heard stories of how Jesus included the outcasts and stood up for the weak.
And there were probably some people in the crowd who did not know Jesus–even people who had never heard of Jesus. But they heard the shouts of their friends, they saw the coats and palm leaves being put on the ground, and they quickly figured out that this man was special.
Thinking about the Palm Sunday crowd can help us consider how we might be better able to recognize Jesus. We can recognize him better when we know the Bible. We can recognize him better when we have met him–through prayer, through church, through seeking to follow him in our daily life. And we can recognize him better when we surround ourselves with other people of faith and listen to their words of proclamation.
As we prepare for Holy Week and Easter, we have a good opportunity to join with our faith communities in prayer and worship so that we might know Jesus more deeply and follow him more faithfully.
Spiritual Practice: Palm Leaf Collage
–piece of paper
–green paper cut into leaf shapes
–pencils, markers, and/or crayons
Each family member should take a leaf and write a word or phrase (or draw a picture) that indicates a favorite story about Jesus. (People can write on more than one leaf if desired.) Once everyone has written on a leaf, allow each person to share their story with the group. Then glue the leaves onto the piece of paper to suggest a palm branch. (See picture above for one suggestion.) You can use markers or crayons to fill in the stem and otherwise decorate as desired.