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When I think of a palm tree, I think of tropical, beachy areas such as Miami. And I think of lying under that tree, soaking in the hot sunrays and sipping on a cold glass of Diet Coke.
If I pulled a leaf off that tree, then I would use it to fan myself to cool off.
But there are other “cool” uses of palm leaves or palm fronds, as they’re more fancily called. Palm fronds can be used for mulch for garden beds, for roof thatch, for garden fencing, for woven baskets, for hats, for fuel and for nutritional feed for livestock.
The palm frond stands for noble things such as peace, victory and eternal life. Mesopotamian religions thought the palm frond was a sacred object, and the palm frond even represented immortality to the people of ancient Egypt.
But what did the multitude that came to the Passover feast do with palm fronds when they heard that Jesus was coming into Jerusalem? That’s an easy question, isn’t it?
Yes, they “took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!’” (John 12:12-13).
This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, when we remember those people and their palm fronds, as they went out to welcome Jesus, who they perceived as their conqueror King of the Jews. Palm branches were used to welcome royalty, and they intended to make Jesus their King, who would rescue them from their oppression. In fact, “hosanna” actually means “save us now.”
Of course, Jesus had other plans and the Jews later turned against Him, calling out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!” (John 19:15). They certainly wouldn’t have welcomed Him with palm leaves had they known what Jesus had in mind — a heavenly kingdom, rather than an earthly one.
Perhaps Jesus would have liked being fanned with palm fronds when He suffered on the cross. Let’s think of Him when we see palm leaves this coming Sunday.
Donna Crowe is a minister’s wife.