We get the palm branches to remind us of our own part in the Passion of Christ. We read in Mt 21:8 that the crowds cut palm branches and spread them on the road before Jesus as he entered Jerusalem while they cried out with joy to God that their savior had come.
The palm branches remind us of our participation in that crowd. We, like the people of Jerusalem, can be so happy to greet our savior sometimes. We can be bold, loving, and excited to meet our king. Jesus isn’t just the king of the Jews thousands of years ago; he is our king today, too!
Yet, we all know what comes next, don’t we?
The palms remind us that we are also part of the same crowd that screamed for Jesus’ death only a few days later. Jesus wasn’t only killed by the Jews thousands of years ago, he was killed by us through sin. Jesus had to die for each of us; we are just as responsible as those who drove the very nails into Jesus’ body.
That’s why the palms we get this Sunday will be burned and the ashes from them will be used next Ash Wednesday to remind us that while we praise our king today; too soon sin will creep back into our lives to bring death if we don’t turn back through repentance.
So the palm branch you will receive this Sunday means many things. It symbolizes our praise of Jesus, our turning on him through sin, and our repentance and reconciliation through the cross.