Michæl McFarland Campbell

Always telling the story

Which victory are we celebrating?

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Thoughts on Palm Sunday 2024

Today, many Christians hold palm branches in their hands. In the ancient world, palm branches were the symbol of victory. For the Israelites in the Old Testament, this tree’s elegance, strength, and simplicity became a symbol of the just man or woman, the one in whom God’s law triumphed. It also symbolised victory for the Romans. Palm trees were not native to Italy. When the Romans started conquering other nations in the Mediterranean, the generals brought palm trees back to Rome as souvenirs of their victories.

The crowds waving palm branches as Jesus entered Jerusalem were declaring his victory.

Today, we echo them, we join them, and we declare and celebrate Christ’s victory. But what victory is it? How did Christ win it?

It is the victory over original sin. Original sin was mankind’s disobedience to God and obedience to the devil. It shattered God’s plan, it let loose the scourge of evil, and it gave the devil a certain power over earthly society.

Jesus, through his passion, death, and resurrection, reversed the disobedience of original sin by obeying his Father’s will in spite of all the devil’s attempts to thwart him.

Judas’s betrayal, the apostles’ abandonment, the false accusations, the condemnation, the humiliation, the scourging, the crowning with thorns, and the torture of the crucifixion, all of these were the devil’s attempts to get Jesus to say “no” to his Father just as Adam and Eve had said “no” back in the Garden of Eden.

But Jesus defeated the devil. He continued to love, to forgive, and to obey through it all. And so he, unlike Adam, unlike every other person in history, can say, “I have not rebelled.”

His obedience establishes a beachhead in this world that is under the devil’s sway: Jesus’s Passion is D-Day for the devil, and liberation for us. This is the victory we celebrate.

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

March 24th, 2024 at 8:30 am

Posted in Sunday Relections

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