“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude…with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”” Revelation 7:9-10
The Arecaceae is a family of perennial flowering plants, which can take the form of climbers, shrubs, tree-like or stemless plants. They are all commonly known as palms, and the most familiar is the palm tree. Palms are among the best known and most extensively cultivated plant families. They have been important to humans throughout much of history, and were often used as symbols of peace and victory.
Today marks Palm Sunday on the Christian Calendar, the day in which Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Crowds gathered, threw down their coats in welcome, and waved palm branches to signify the coming of their king! Oh how excited the crowds must have been, as they remembered the command of God in Leviticus 23:40 to wave palm branches in celebration of God’s victory over Egypt, in the annual feast of tabernacles.
But God’s ways are not our ways. The excitement wore off quickly, for Jesus did not overthrow the Romans, as was expected. Just a few days later, the crowds would call out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” What kind of salvation are you looking for today? Freedom from pain and sickness? Freedom from stress and anxiety? Freedom from marital struggles? Freedom from financial stress? Deep within our depraved hearts is the desire for freedom to sin.
But Jesus came to free us from that great bondage – the slavery of sin and death! And Palm Sunday marked the beginning of the final week of intense suffering for Jesus, culminating in the God-forsakenness of the cross of Calvary! Palm fronds are a reminder of victory and peace – but they are also a reminder that the way to the crown is so often through the cross! It is only through the cross that we have access to the tree of life! And in that city, where we’ll never grow old, we will once again wave palm branches to celebrate eternal victory and peace by the blood of the Lamb! And we will sing with the saints of all the ages: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”