Sunday, 9 April 2017

The palms in our hands today is an open acknowledgement of Jesus as our messiah -Rev Barr Festus Opara Ph.D


The Vica, Rev. Barr Festus Opara Ph.D, who is in-charge of St. Peter's  Anglican church, Ikenegbu Layout in the Diocese of Owerri, exhaustively bring to the understanding of his congratulation about the significance of the triumphant entry of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In a sermonette which he wrote on the church Whatsapp group it reads after the cut........

Today in the church calendar is the palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is the six Sunday in length and usually a week to Easter Sunday. It is a Sunday set apart in Christendom to commemorate the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. This event is recorded in several gospel narratives; Matthew Chapter 21:1-8;Mark 11:1-11 and Luke19:28-44. Even John in his gospel likened to that of the 'eagle' recorded it in John 12:1-12.

The events of the palm Sunday according to the scriptures have it that Jesus instructed them to go to the neighboring village (near Bethany and Bethphage at the mount of olives)to bring and untie a donkey or a colt.Matthew wrote that Jesus asked his disciples to bring two animals(Matt 21:2).Other gospel accounts acknowledged Jesus asking them to bring an ass(MK11:2//Lk 19:30).As Jesus approached Jerusalem,the crowd strewed their garments and cut down leafy branches from trees (Matt 21:8).Mark recorded same(cf,Mark11:8).

Luke in his narrative only made reference to Jesus 'disciples spreading their cloths (Lk 19:36).The palm branches were explicitly mentioned in John 12:13 which says that the people 'took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.'This triumphant entry was seen as the fulfilment of the Old Testament scriptures in Zechariah 9:9 in quote; 'Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.'

Having traced extensively the origin of palm branches being used on palm Sundays,there is the need to look at the symbolism of Palm trees/branches in the scriptures. Palms in biblical times are of immense spiritual and social importance. The commonest palm is the date palm(lulav)which was renown in the ancient Mediterranean world. The palm symbolized blessedness and fertility (Ex 15:27//Deut 34:3), a sign of fulfilment of God's promises.Palm branches are popular symbols of sacredness and purity,often associated with the temple worship and sanctuary ( Ikg 6:29-35,Ezek 41:18).It is used in times of felicity and festivities(Lev 23:40).Palms depict fertility and flourishing of the righteous (Psalm 92:12).They signify victory and immortality (Rev 7:9).Above all ,palms in the bible also signify goodness, well being and was used for heroic reception and acknowledgment of a conquering potentate (John12:13).

On palm Sunday like today,Christians world over mark the service with a procession round the town,waving of blessed palms branches and seldom ridding on a donkey depicting the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.The palms in our hands today is an open acknowledgement of Jesus as our messiah who through his sacrificial death upon the cross had defeated sin , sickness and death. May today's service bring blessings to us,our families and nation. Amen.

On the other-hand, during the church service proper, Evangelist Chidera Ohia, preached about the significance of the Donkey Jesus used in entering Jerusalem 2000 years ago. He picked his sermon from the Book of Mark. 11 1-4 which talks about the triumphant entering. 

According to the topic on which he titled "Jesus is looking for the Donkey he will use in our time". In his words, the Donkey may represent human-beings which needed to be untie from bondage and be set free for God's use on various family, communities, and in Nigeria.

He continued by asking members of the church to be prepared for God's use as the Palm Sunday is not only to celebrate with palms in the church but to let God into their lives.

In conclusion, He said God only uses vessels of honour.

Enjoy more photos of the celebration!

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