Palms, Cloaks and Artichokes
Sunday Sermon, Palm Sunday, 3.27.21
Nearly 2,000 years ago, as hundreds of thousands of travelers gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast, Jesus Christ entered the city, riding on a donkey, as the victorious King of the Jews. The crowds shouted, “Hail to the King”, “Hosanna”, and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” as they waved palm branches they had cut down and carpeted the road with their cloaks.
This is recorded in all four of the Gospels in the New Testament. Without exception the crowds are characterized by waving palm branches and spreading their garments on the donkey and on the road along the procession. With passionate shouts they hailed Jesus the victorious one who they hoped would save them from Roman oppression.
In their celebration some preceded the Christ with palms and cloaks and shouts of praise while others followed in the same manner, with palms and cloaks and shouts of praise.
Here were men and women, removing not only branches from the palm trees but also their garments. Yes, their outer garments, but they willingly removed their cloak, or robe – perhaps the only clothing they owned, to pay honor and respect to Jesus Christ.
These crowds, as participants in the processional, recognized who Jesus was. They acknowledged who he was with their ruckus praise and extravagant expressions. They realized this coming king was coming to bring God’s kingdom influence. They waved their palm branches in approval, symbolizing His goodness, victory, joy and triumph.
The removal of their cloak too, was an expression of highest regard for Jesus Christ. This left them exposed and uncovered their lowly state. This removed their layered defenses and protections and left them with little to hide behind.
They had shed what people see in order to honor Jesus Christ and they chose to wave a palm branch as a sign of surrender to the victorious One.
This Holy Week, as we again reflect on Palm Sunday, (Good Friday and Easter,) what can be gleaned from this? We should ask ourselves these things, we should recount the events, and reconsider a fresh impact on our life. These stories are for us, for today. They have value for our everyday living, and are not just ancient history and outdated, irrelevant events.
So I offer you this, an artichoke.
Consider this thistle that we cultivate for a yummy food; it’s edible portion is the fleshy section at the base of the leaves and heart or choke at the center. Dip the leaves in butter, place in your mouth, scrape down with your teeth to remove the flesh, discard the empty leaf and start again.
Over and over and over again leaves are removed, layers peeled away, flesh is torn, and sustenance gained until the heart is revealed.
That artichoke is like those people on Palm Sunday. Like us today.
By removing their cloaks, they were peeling away at those layers that people see, their outer leaves if you will, and revealing their heart. What covers us, our cloaks must be removed, our fleshly ways must be shed to expose our heart.
Those things that we cover ourselves with and hide behind must be shed before we can join Jesus’ victorious parade. As we shed those “leaves”, a layer at a time, our heart too is laid bare and exposed, and there He finds joy in the true expressions of our heart and brings victory, joy, goodness and triumph to us.
We are living in a season of exposing the heart. He is wanting to reveal the heart of the issue, the heart of the problem, the heart of man. He is peeling away layer after layer, leaf after leaf, removing flesh and exposing the heart. Revealing what is hidden behind layers of defenses, cover ups and artificial protections.
He is revealing the heart of praise, the heart of abandonment to Him, the heart of devoted passion and extravagant worship. The heart that doesn’t care what man sees, because that heart is all about reverence to the victorious king.
The heart that openly and publicly honors Him above all, lavishing praise, glory and respect to the King.
So you see, that first Palm Sunday crowd, you and artichokes share a thing or two.
I’ve heard said that God peels away at us a layer at a time, like an onion.
I submit a better analogy may be He peels away a layer at a time like an artichoke, because He wants to reveal our heart.
So, Happy Palm Sunday, and don’t forget the palms, cloaks and artichokes…
Go with God.