Lent Day Forty


Sunday, April 13, 2014 – Palm Sunday and the fortieth day of Lent. The four Gospels provide the account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. I suppose this is the Full Gospel as several of the churches in East Texas are called. Jesus rode into town on a donkey. The symbolism of the donkey refers to the Eastern tradition that the donkey is an animal of peace. The donkey is in contraction to the horse, which is a symbol for war. By riding on a peaceful animal it was perceived that Jesus was declaring he was King of Israel in order to anger the Sanhedrin, or the Jewish Judicial Body. Another Eastern custom was to cover the path of someone thought worthy of the highest honor. According to the Gospels, Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, and the celebrating people there laid down their cloaks in front of him, and also laid down small branches of trees. The Gospels seem to disagree on what exactly was laid down as Jesus on the donkey proceeded through the city. Some report garments and cut branches. Only John specifies fronds of palm as being laid in the path. The palm branch was a symbol of triumph and victory in the Greco-Roman culture of the Roman Empire, and became the most common attribute of the goddess Nike or Victory. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Palm Sunday was marked by the burning of Jack-‘o’-Lent figures. This was a straw effigy which would be stoned and abused. Its burning on Palm Sunday was often supposed to be a kind of revenge on Judas Iscariot, who had betrayed Christ. In Luke 19:41 as Jesus approaches Jerusalem, he looks at the city and weeps over it (an event known as Flevit super illam in Latin), foretelling the suffering that awaits the city. So Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week for all of us who observe and celebrate Lent. Yes, I had to look all of the facts for this paragraph, but now you have it.

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