Palm of Victory

Sunday, March 20, 2016

 Palm of Victory
Lent , Day 40

Throughout the ancient world, the palm branch is a symbol of victory in war.  In Christianity, it became the symbol for victory of the faithful over enemies of the soul.

In ancient Rome, the palm became so closely associated with victory that the Latin word “palma” could be used as a word for victory and it could mean a sign of any victory. For example, a lawyer who won a case could decorate his door with palm leaves.   It was also a symbol of military triumph.  Lord, Nelson, probably one of the greatest British officers ever, had this motto on his coat of arms?  “Let him who deserves the palm of victory bear it.”
With that history, it is no surprise that when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding the donkey, given the power and miracles that they had witnessed him perform, the people greeted Jesus anticipating that he would lead them to victory over the Romans and liberation from their oppression. Jesus did, indeed enter the city as a Victor but he did it by laying down his life and showing us all that it is sacrificial love that wins the victory.  After Jesus’s death, the palm branch came to be associated with joy that comes in victory over sin, death and self.  In the early tombs, if there was an image of a palm, it was assumed that the person had died a martyr’s death.

Today, as you hear the passion read,
And wave your palm,
Rejoice in the victory that has resulted in your personal salvation

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