Today is Palm Sunday, and thus begins “Holy Week”. Now, I know that I have used terms like Lent, Maundy Thursday, and Holy Week this Easter season that are not traditionally used in the Baptist Church. But I believe they are significant terms and practices that point to and prepare us for the remembrance of Jesus’ death and celebration of his resurrection.
Palm Sunday is traditionally the day where we commemorate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as King. This event is one of a few occurrences that is recorded in all four Gospels in the life of Jesus. While all four accounts are similar in subject there are some differences in the way the accounts are re-told. The purpose of this account is Jesus in all four gospels is to show Jesus preparing for his royal entry and worship as king.
Instead of recounting the events of this day I would like to look more closely at the worship aspect of this day. Most of you are most-likely aware that Palm Sunday is the first time where he publicly accepts worship, and He identifies himself as the Messiah. This account is bathed in praise and worship, so I thought it would be appropriate to spend our time together and look at and define what praise and worship looks like.
The word praise is derived from the Hebrew word Teh-hil-law which is from the root word haw-lal where we get the word Hallelujah. Teh-hil-law is defined as a song or hymn of praise and adoration, thanksgiving, renown, fame, or glory. Often when Praise is spoken in the Bible it is usually done through song but not necessarily exclusively. Praise can also be descriptive of poetry, creativity and in gatherings of believers.
The Psalms are great examples of praise. Last week we looked at two Psalms and I would encourage you to read through and meditate on them often as they are great ways to express praise to God and the words penned by the psalmists are eloquently and descriptively describe a heart that leans toward and praise God.
How, Why & When
In our time together we are going to look at several scripture passages that show us specifically who we are to praise God, why we are to praise God, and when we are to praise God. I will forewarn that this is not an exhaustive list of Psalms (that would probably take us all day), but I have chosen a few to answer the how, why, and when.
When most people talk about worship, they tend to link it with praise. Worship is often referred to Praise and Worship and we are once again people think that this is the music portion of a church service. However, there is a distinction between the words praise and worship. They are complimentary to one another, yet they are uniquely different.
The Hebrew word for Worship is Shaw Kaw which means to bow down, prostrate oneself, to honor, revere as divine or Supreme Being. The Greek word is Pros-Koo-Neh-Sis which paints a more vivid picture of worship. It means to kiss the hand towards in token of reverence or kissing like a dog affectionately licking his master’s hand.
What we need to know about worship…
In Jesus’ day the Jewish people had reduced worship to outward actions, traditions, and ceremonies. They thought that by religiously adhering to the letter of the law, and going through certain rituals, they were worshiping the Father. But this was not worship in the spirit. It was outward, not inward. Their bodies might be bowed down on the ground, but their hearts were not right before God. Jesus informed them that now that He had come, it was possible for men to draw near to God through Him in true and sincere worship.
What can we take with us this Palm Sunday? As Jesus entered the city on a donkey the people shouted “Hosanna! Hosanna is the Highest!” They were praising Jesus and worshiping him as they threw palm branches on the ground. They were not doing this out of vain tradition and rituals. They were not praising and worshiping him in a building. They didn’t decide beforehand what style or medium of worship they would use. No! They gathered to worship because first and foremost Jesus was the King and secondly, this was the fulfillment of prophecy. The religious leaders tried to stop this praise fest, but Jesus told them that if the people wouldn’t praise him, the rocks would. Palm Sunday was not just a part of the church service, but it was the culmination of what their lives were in Christ. Here are some concluding thoughts…
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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