“O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!
Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalms 118:1-2)
Today we look at the scripture passages, the Psalms passage and the New Testament passage, that are the Liturgy of the Palms. The palms are the branches that were used to cover the street when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. And this psalms passage has become associated with that event.
“Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.” (Verses 19-20)
As I consider this passage, I am reminded that of the focus and theme of this year, confession, penance, and forgiveness. And that three step process is the way to righteousness.
“I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.” (Verse 21)
It is during the season of Lent that this progression of confession/penance/forgiveness has significance, although I suspect that I will find ways and means to bring it to our attention later in the year. And that it is through Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf that brings the righteous we want and need. Of course, there are those of authentic belief who may see other aspects of Jesus that have more significance for them. That is the beauty of Jesus’ ministry, that it contains something for everyone, if they would but look for it.
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” (Verse 22-23)
Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem was a time of celebration; the spirit of the moment caught hold, and Jesus was sought after and revered.
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Verse 24)
But Jesus and his ministry was more than celebration and accolades. And in the days that followed, a more somber note was injected into Jesus Christ’s ministry.
“Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!” (Verses 25)
That is, however, pondering for another day – not today.
“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God, and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.” (Verses 26-27)
Today we welcome Jesus Christ to his rightful place in our world, and in our lives.
“You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you.
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (Verses 28-29)
“After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.”
“The Lord needs it.” Ever since I first read this passage, and was old enough to understand it, I marveled that those simple words were enough for Jesus being given leave to take this colt. As I considered these words again, it occurred to me that in the same simple but compelling way we need the Lord.
“Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” ( Verses 36-40)
Let us, beloved reader, not be silent either. Let us shout out our praises to the Lord, and confess our need of our Lord. Let us this day celebrate the coming of our Lord to us. Selah!