I live in Southern California. I was born and raised here. Ironically, the palm tree has become one of the symbols of L.A. You see it prominently visible in TV commercials, various advertisements and logos (like the picture to the right). Ironic in the fact that out of the over 2,500 species of palms, only one is actually indigenous to California. That would be the California Fan Palm, which is natural to the deserts of southeastern California – not the beaches along our coast.
Tomorrow is Palm Sunday and I’ve been thinking about the palm’s activity in the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem as recorded in John’s gospel (12:12-13). Just like what we distinctively recognize as the symbol of my city, there is something special about those palm trees. The question is, however, just what is it about the palms?
I find it rather interesting that the 92nd Psalm -- which is all about worship on the Sabbath day -- would include the following quote; "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree.” The quote is from verse 12. The very next verse famously states; “those who are planted in the house of the Lord, shall flourish in the courts of our God.” So the writer is using the metaphor of the palm tree to describe the true worshiper.
The palm tree has several characteristics about it that actually mirror the life of the worshiper (ie: Christian). Let me share a few of them with you…
1. Palm Trees Bend, but don’t Break.
They are one of the few trees in the world that can survive even the fiercest storms that buffet them.
2. Palm Trees Cannot Remain Banded.
Most trees, when shackled by a band put around them, simply grow around the band. The palm tree though will not allow itself to be constrained by a band – it breaks the bands as it grows.
3. Palm Trees Flourish in the Desert Places.
The dry and arid climate that destroys most trees, are no problem for the palm. The palm thrives even in difficult surroundings and circumstances.
4. Palm Trees grouped together, become an Oasis.
The oasis provides shade and refreshing for hot and tired travelers.
In John 12, we see both the palms and the people. Two instruments of worship merging into one river of praise on Main Street in Jerusalem. It's triumphant and glorious. It's loud and animated. It's visual and vocal. And God loves it.
So on this Palm Sunday -- and every Sunday -- I will take my place as the metaphorical palm tree. Inviting and extolling Jesus with branches raised toward the sun and waving in thankful worship. Planted in God's house to be a source of blessing and praise for His glory. A tree of righteousness, the prophet stated -- the planting of the Lord.
Every Sunday should be Palm Sunday for the true worshiper.