The Donkey and the Palm Leaves
This Sunday we celebrate Palm Sunday and remember Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. This image is rich in symbolism and meaning, exactly as Jesus intended. Jesus knew he was fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah, ‘Lo your king comes to you, triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey’. The donkey is an animal of peace, as opposed to a horse which was ridden in warfare, and in fulfilling this prophecy Jesus announces that his Kingship is one of peace. The meaning of the palm leaves comes from Leviticus when the Jewish people were told to celebrate their Exodus from Egypt by making booths from palm leaves.
We do not know what the crowds around Jesus on that day thought. The Gospels tell us that for much of his ministry Jesus kept his identity as the Son of God hidden and that even his close companions the disciples did not understand who he was until after his death and resurrection.
We know that we now can stand at the gates of Jerusalem holding our palm crosses ready to lay them in Jesus’ path as he rides before us. We can acknowledge him as the Prince of Peace, leading a new Exodus and bringing about our salvation as the people of God.