Many people spread their cloaks on the road while others spread branches … Mark 11:8
The origin of Palm Sunday in the tradition of the church goes back to 4th century Jerusalem. People would gather at the Mount of Olives in early afternoon on the Sunday before Easter. At about five o’clock the passage of the gospel telling of Jesus’ entry would be read. A processional into the city would begin, and people with palm or olive branches would wave them as they walked.
Jesus approached Jerusalem by way of Bethany and Bethphage (Mark 11:1). Bethany was about two miles from Jerusalem. The exact location of Bethphage is not known but it must have been even closer. He sent two disciples there to get a “colt,” a term used in biblical and other ancient literature to describe the colt of a donkey. Matthew’s account tells us that both the colt and the colt’s mother were brought (Matthew 21:7).
The action of the crowd is described as completely spontaneous. Lippo Memmi (1291-1356), an Italian painter, is one of the artists whose work adorns the Collegiate Church of San Gimignano in Tuscany, Italy. In his artistic tradition (seen above) the figures are somewhat static. In his presentation of these events, everything sort of seems like it has stopped and everyone looks so still -except the one person who steps in front and is placing his robe on the ground. He makes it just in time! His huge cloak falls into place precisely at the moment when donkey’s hoof will touch it. Here, as in 2Kings 9:13, the laying down of cloaks signifies submission to royalty.
Because of what God has done for in Jesus, the Apostle Paul calls upon us to lay down our lives as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). When God sends forth His Spirit into our hearts that is what we should want to do! People all over the world are coming to know His power, and they want to submit to Him. They are laying down their lives in submission to the King of kings. He is coming! Want to join them? The celebration is about to start. Hurry! You’ll make it just in time.