Here is my Power Point Presentation for the sermon I delivered in our church this morning. I post this because the sermon was entitled “Palm Sunday Symbols” and I wanted the slides to be symbolic rather than mere background. The text was Matthew 21:1-17. Note that the events of the day included more than the triumphal entry into Jerusalem [v.1-11] ; they also included the entry into the temple area where Jesus performed more symbolic actions [v.12-17] that were right in line with the symbols of the first part of the text.
Here is my conclusion:
The symbols of Palm Sunday are trying to tell us something. They are trying to tell us that the reign of God–dramatized by Jesus’ public symbolic actions on Palm Sunday–is characterized by humility, peace, justice, and hospitality.
We first see this in Jesus’ humble birth in Bethlehem. We see it when Jesus heals the sick, releases those in bondage, eats with outcasts, forgives sins, and preaches good news to the poor. We hear it in the teaching of Jesus about freedom from greed, investment in relationships, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. We see it when Jesus welcomes children, prostitutes, lepers, and tax collectors and snubs both religious and civic leaders.
The symbols of Palm Sunday are nothing new. Jesus just performs some dramatic symbolic acts on this day for those who have not caught on yet. Are you catching on?
You see, Palm Sunday really has very little to do with waving palm branches. It has very little to do with whether you sing, shout, clap your hands, or just sit there silently. It has very little to do with doing business deals in the foyer. It doesn’t really matter if you are sick or well, old or young, loud or quiet, Jew or Gentile, black or white, gay or straight, single or married, whether you’ve known Jesus all your life or heard about him for the first time today. These are not the things that are the most important to Jesus.
The symbols of Palm Sunday again remind us of what is most important. Jesus arranged events and carried out his actions very carefully to teach his followers something about what does matter, about what is most important. The ride into the capital city on a donkey, the clearing of the temple, the healing of the sick and welcoming of the marginalized—they all mean something. The way of Jesus is about humility, peace, justice, and hospitality to all.
Now, go and live it… with joy!