ANOTHER PALM SUNDAY COMING?

Because of the situation in which we find ourselves, Palm Sunday this past weekend was not the usual day of celebration, praise, and worship that it traditionally is. Yet with our technology for broadcasting worship into our homes, many of us still marked the day that launches what is called Holy Week.

Palm Sunday marks the final entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. It is called Palm Sunday because the common people waved palm branches as Jesus entered on a colt in the same way a king would be welcomed. Because of that greeting given to Jesus, it is also called his Triumphal Entry.

The triumphal aspect of Jesus’ entry melted the following days as both the religious leaders (Jews) and the Roman governor (Pontius Pilate) moved to get rid of Jesus. Following a few days of conflict with the Jewish religious leaders, Jesus was arrested and tried by them Thursday night, and ultimately tried by Pilate and sentenced to death by crucifixion on Friday.

Most Christians will focus the rest of this week on the events following Palm Sunday, but I want to share something new to me related to Palm Sunday I learned yesterday when I watched a Palm Sunday sermon online.

Dr. Sam Chand, a pastor from India, was the guest preacher for Palm Sunday at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, GA. His talk was informative, encouraging, and inspirational. He not only dealt with the accounts of Jesus’ entry, he also referred to a passage in the Old Testament about waving palm branches (Leviticus 23:40) and one in the New Testament book of Revelation (7:9 and 10).

It was the reference in Revelation that grabbed my attention:

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

It sounds like there is going to be something of a repeat or another Palm Sunday like event in the future in heaven. Christians will be standing before Jesus dressed in white holding palm branches. Like the first Palm Sunday they will be shouting praise to King Jesus; and I can’t help but think they will also be waving those palm branches they are holding.

That is something all of us who have decided to follow Jesus can look forward to!

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THE PILGRIM’S PROGRESS: A BOOK REPORT

I’m not exactly sure what grade I was in when I wrote my first book report, but I know it was in grade school. After that we wrote book reports in junior high as well as in high school. Although we did a lot of reading in college and graduate school, and sometimes we wrote about what we read, they were not called book reports.

Until a couple of weeks ago I had never read John Bunyan’s classic The Pilgrim’s Progress. Leading up to Easter this past year I received emails almost daily about Revelation Media’s movie of the story. I wanted to see it, but it was only shown on two days – Thursday and Saturday before Easter and I couldn’t go either day.

Interested because of all the promotions about the movie, I thought about getting the book and reading it. My interest was confirmed when I visited a bookstore in town that was going out of business and I found The Pilgrim’s Progress marked down 60%. I couldn’t pass up such a deal so I bought it (at such a discount I knew it had to be God’s will!); and I’m glad I did.

Here’s a short book review of The Pilgrim’s Progress.

The flap on the cover on my copy reports that “John Bunyan was a seventeenth-century Baptist preacher and writer. He became imprisoned for his Christian beliefs, and it was at that time he began work on The Pilgrim’s Progress.” He wrote the book in 1688 and it “is an allegory on the Christian life.”

The framework of the book is the account of a storyteller’s dream he had of a Christian’s journey to the Celestial City. Reflecting the time in which it was written, there are sentences that seem awkward that I needed to read a couple of times to get the meaning.

The storyteller’s report of his dream is filled with designations and titles that enhance the “allegory on the Christian life.” In addition to Christian, other characters include Evangelist, Obstinate, Pliable, Mr. Worldly Wiseman, Patience, Apollyon, Faithful, Talkative, Hopeful, Ignorance, and Little-faith. In addition to the Celestial City, other places are the Slough of Dispond [sic], Vanity Fair, Graceless, Honesty, Giant Despair, and Doubting Castle.

Readers familiar with the Bible will note lots of references and allusions to verses and passages in the Bible. But readers do not have to know the Bible to engage the story. The flap on my copy notes the book “is regarded by many as one of the most significant religious works ever written.”

If this report sparks your interest I hope you will get and read the book. I think you will not only enjoy it, but also be challenged and encouraged. I think Revelation Media’s film will be available in the future. Having read the book, I look forward to seeing the movie.

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