The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 14

Welcome to the “Front Porch” Bible Study Series. This week we’ll prepare for Palm Sunday by studying the significance of waving palm branches to the Lord. Now I’ll always have a richer understanding of this Palm Sunday celebration of thanksgiving. Come along as I share this nugget from God’s treasure chest with you.

Click HERE to read today’s Scripture. For comparative Scriptures, click HERE to read Mark 11:1-10.

“The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: ‘Hosanna!
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
The King of Israel!’” (John 12:12-13 NKJV)

As Jesus and His disciples approached Jerusalem, He sent two of them ahead to find and untie a colt on which no one had sat. The Lord instructed them to answer anyone who questioned their actions by saying that the Lord had need of it, so they would allow it. As the disciples obeyed, it happened exactly as Jesus had said. They spread their cloaks over the animal’s back where Jesus then sat and led him down the hill into Jerusalem.

When the multitudes who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was arriving, they ran to meet Him. They laid their cloaks on the ground and cut down leafy branches as a “red carpet” for Jesus’s entrance into the city. The excited crowds consisted of those from Bethany who had witnessed Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead and those in Jerusalem who had heard about this great sign. They congregated joyfully around Him, waving palm branches and chanting Scripture taken from Psalm 118:25-26: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” (John 12:13 NKJV).

The Jews intended to cast off Caesar and his Roman rule and crown Jesus as their king. This uproar, however, distressed the Pharisees because they were losing the fight to suppress His popularity. Caiaphas expressed fear over what would happen to them politically, realizing they had to side with Rome against Jesus in order to save themselves.

What is the significance of people waving palm branches? We can trace this practice in both the Old and New Testaments.

In Leviticus 23:39-44 (Click HERE), the Israelites waved beautiful palm branches for seven days during the Feast of Tabernacles (also called the Feast of Booths or Sukkot). This feast memorializes how God brought them out of slavery from the land of Egypt. (For more study about the Feast of Tabernacles, click HERE.)

During Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the people rejoiced by waving palm branches in His honor. They welcomed the deliverance they believed He was bringing to them—freedom from Roman tyranny and the political occupation of Israel. They honored Him as a king riding victoriously into His kingdom. A worldly king would come riding on a horse—a symbol of war—but He came riding on a donkey’s colt—a symbol of peace. Later the disciples would understand how this act fulfilled Zechariah 9:9:

“‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey’” (NKJV).

Lastly, we find a future waving of palm branches during a thrilling time in heaven. Revelation 7:9 describes those who will be saved out of the Great Tribulation wearing white robes and holding palm branches. They will cry out, “‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (v.10). (Click HERE to read more about it.)

Do you understand why waving palm branches is significant to God? It represents people showing thanks for God’s deliverance.

  • In Leviticus, God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and entrance back into their Promised Land.
  • The Gospels describe how the Jews expected deliverance from Rome’s political tyranny and the beginning of Messiah’s reign.
  • Revelation reveals the Lamb of God who will deliver a multitude from the evil rule of the Anti-Christ. They will stand before God’s throne and will serve Him day and night in His temple.

The triumphant entry into Jerusalem will happen one day in the future.
At the Second Coming of Christ, Jesus will be riding on a white horse, not a donkey’s colt. He will come to make war on the Anti-Christ and destroy his reign. This is the age when the Messiah’s eternal reign will begin. (Click HERE to read Revelation 19:11-16.)

As we joyfully wave our palm branches on Palm Sunday, let’s remember to be deeply thankful to God for His gift of deliverance. Jesus loosed us from the bondage of sin and death and gave us the right to become God’s sons and daughters through Jesus’s shed blood. We will be joint-heirs with Christ in His kingdom forever.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name”(John 1:12 NKJV).

Dear Lord, thank you for becoming our King of kings and Lord of lords. We wave our palm branches to you with hearts full of thanksgiving and praise for Your gift of deliverance. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Easter: Seeking Messiah (Part 2)

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The sun blazed orange as it set behind the hills. Simon arrived at his destination and commanded his camel to kneel so he could slide off. Hastening toward the door of his brother’s home, he knocked. It opened at once.

“Enter and join us.” A voice boomed, one which he recognized as Saul’s. Before he could take a step, the strong embrace of his brother drew him inside and led him to a table where several others reclined for the evening meal.

He sat, and as the women served, he met and conversed with guests who had also traveled to Jerusalem from other villages for Passover. The topic? Jesus. For three years, they talked of no one else.

“Did anyone witness the Teacher arrive? I’ve traveled a long way in hopes of finding Him tonight.”

Saul leaned forward to take unleavened bread, broke it, and distributed pieces to those around him. “I heard that He arrived in the city yesterday, but no one knows where He’s staying. If they did, the entire city would be at that house, asking Him for healing or more stories.”

All the men chuckled in agreement. The masses swarmed Him like bees around a hive.

One of them, Matthias of Bethlehem, raised up his head. “I was there.” He swallowed a bite of fish. “It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever witnessed, brothers.” His wide, brown eyes stared. “Pontius Pilate even summoned extra guards, in case of a riot.”

Their faces wore frowns of worry as they stopped eating and turned to listen.

He took a deep breath. “A huge crowd of people had come to herald him as our King and lead Him triumphantly into the city. They were a noisy bunch, crying ‘Hosanna in the highest!’ and ‘Jesus is our King!’” His expression softened and his eyes lost focus, as though reliving it in his memory.

Simon folded his arms and leaned forward. “Yes, yes … do continue. Was He mounted on a horse?”

Matthias cocked his head to one side. “I’ve never heard of Jesus riding an animal. He always walked. But someone let His disciples borrow a donkey and a colt from a nearby village.” He glanced around the table. “Can you imagine that? A king sitting on a donkey’s colt?” He snorted.

The others mumbled concern, their eyes wide and foreheads wrinkled in disbelief.

Simon stood and raised his arms. “Everyone knows a king rides a horse.

The men nodded and mumbled assent.

Matthias rose and placed a gentle hand on Simon’s shoulder. “Brother.”  He spread his hands wide and shrugged his shoulders. “The donkey and her colt were requested by Jesus Himself.” He again reclined on the pillows.

Simon paced. “How could he lower Himself to do such a thing? How will Rome view this act?”

Saul fisted his hands and thrust them above his head. “We want Him to depose Rome and become our ruler—the King of the Jews! Even if He chooses to arrive on a donkey.” The gravel in his deep voice was full of hope.

Matthias lifted his index finger and pointed to the ceiling. “Remember the prophecy in Isaiah?” He closed his eyes and lifted his face to heaven. “Say to the daughter of Zion, behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”

Saul raised an eyebrow. “Don’t forget that animal represents peace. Messiah comes in peace to make peace—not war, as kings do by riding atop war horses.”

Saul’s wife set a platter of lamb in front of the men and leaned over to whisper in her husband’s ear.

He nodded as she whisked away. “My wife also heard from another witness that His disciples laid their coats so He could sit. And the crowd not only spread their coats on the road, but also branches from the palm trees.”

Matthias leaped up. “I watched them lead Jesus into the city without the animal’s feet touching the ground. Some of the crowd went ahead, while others followed behind, but they all shouted in unison: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!'”

Simon absorbed the story. He could visualize the Lord descending the hill into the city and imagine the cries of the multitudes. He turned to Matthias. “And after Jesus arrived in Jerusalem?”

He smiled. “When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, asking who He was. And the crowds claimed that He was the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Simon pondered these words, accepting some lamb as it circled to him. He hadn’t expected a political uprising now, but wondered if Jesus had. So much was happening in Jerusalem … so much that was in the way of his finding Messiah and asking for a word of healing for his baby son.

Tomorrow was Thursday. Hopefully he could find Him by then.

All I need is one word from You, Lord, and my son will be healed.

Perhaps his son had already died—he couldn’t know. Somehow, he discerned the child was still alive. He clung to that hope.