“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” Jesus said in a Nazarene synagogue, “because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable day of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19). He was then opening His ministry and promising to teach, to serve, and to bless any and all who would cross His path. True to His divine nature, He kept that promise everywhere He went, leaving us an unparalleled example of selfless love and tender mercy. Then, at the beginning of the final week of His life, He rode into Jerusalem to the shouts and praise of a devoted crowd that had seen the good He had done in the few years of His mortal ministry. With palm branches in hand, they hailed Him as their King and gloried in the good things He had taught them.
On this Palm Sunday, let us echo praise that rings through the millennia, for we know that there was something even more profound to His promise to love and to serve! As he stood in that synagogue, He declared Himself to be the Messiah, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). And that promise is one that extended beyond the few years of His earthly ministry and continues to touch our lives. Indeed, “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Entering Jerusalem, Jesus rode into a week that would show Him the horrors of bearing the guilt and sorrow of the world, culminating with Friday’s cross. “Surely, he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows,” the prophet Isaiah said, “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him: and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5). Knowing, as we do, what Jesus Christ endured for us, how can we not rejoice? Shouldn’t our shouts of praise match—if not transcend—the shouts of those in ancient Jerusalem? Many of them probably only knew Him to be their teacher and healer—but we know Him to be our Savior and Redeemer.
This week provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on the Savior’s life and on the peace, forgiveness, and salvation He has invited us to enjoy. I know that I will do more to remember Him and the love that motivated Him to lay down His life in order to lift us above our own imperfection. Today and throughout the week, I hope that we all may be found praising the Lord, our hearts full of gratitude for the great blessings that He has given us.
The company of angels
Are praising thee on high,
And mortal men and all things
Created make reply.
The people of the Hebrews
With palms before thee went;
Our praise and love and anthems
Before thee we present.
To thee, before thy passion,
They sang their hymns of praise;
To thee, now high exalted,
Our melody we raise.
Thou didst accept their praises;
Accept the love we bring,
Who in all good delightest,
Thou good and gracious King.
(Theodulph of Orleans)