The Significance of Psalm Sunday

palm-branchby Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday, the event prophesied in Zechariah 9:9 five hundred years before. Throngs of people had come to Jerusalem for the annual Passover festival; the population of the city of Jerusalem had swollen from about 50,000 to perhaps 200,000. It was the Sunday before the arrest and trial and crucifixion of Jesus. As Jesus came from Bethany, riding on a donkey, to an area near Herod’s Temple, he was welcomed by a large crowd who laid down palm branches in his path. “Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.” “The people cried out, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” Some recognized him to be the promised Messiah, but probably the majority saw him as the descendant of David who would become a new King of Israel and deliver them from Roman rule. Few, indeed, saw him as the Lamb of God, who would take away the sins of the world, as proclaimed by John the Baptist.

Some of the Pharisees, leaders of the Jews, were alarmed at this tremendous welcoming of Jesus, because they viewed him as their enemy threatening to overturn the society of which they had invested their lives. While Jesus was daily teaching in the Temple—the leaders of the Sanhedrin were plotting his execution, because they saw in him a serious threat to their position, prestige, and wealth.

The Bible makes it plain that there are two ways: the ways of the world and the ways of God. People in the time of Jesus had to decide whether to believe in him as the Son of God and Savior of the World or to reject him. The same challenge remains with us today. We must choose between faith in God, and his approval, or to seek the approval of the world.  This is a bit difficult to parse, because the believing Christian will engage in many of the same practices and activities that the unbelieving do. But there will be a substantial difference in the way that they regard God, and in the purpose that they see in life.

Jesus said…I am the way , and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) May we celebrate the advent of Jesus Christ as the greatest man who has ever lived, and the one who forgives us and redeems us, and welcomes us into his eternal home.

Foster H. Shannon
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Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note

Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
He is currently Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA. He is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. He is the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, which he established with others in 1981. Green Leaf Press, Inc. publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.