In Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19 we read of a Biblical account popularly known as the triumphant entry. Here the story is told of Jesus riding on a donkey decorated with garments of the disciples and streets carpeted with the garments and palm branches of great multitude.
At that point in history Jesus was approaching His death in Jerusalem. From Bethphage He sent His disciples to go find an ass (donkey) in a specified location and bring it to Him. Jesus sat on a donkey and rode to Jerusalem with multitudes coming from all corners of the city with palm branches and singing Psalm 118:25-26 Hosanna to the son of David. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
The Chief Priest and the Scribes demanded of Jesus to quieting His followers. Instead Jesus quoted a scripture in the Old Testament supporting the cultural celebration taken place. He affirmed that as long as the earth abides God had ordained, instituted the cultural celebration of Praise Matt 21:12-16; Psa 8:2.
Under the subheading Symbolism the Wikipeda, the on-line encyclopedia commenting on palm branches put it this way ‘it is a common custom in many lands in the ancient Near East to cover, in some way, the path of someone thought worthy of the highest honor. The Hebrew Bible (2 kings 9:13) reports that Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat, was treated this way. All the Gospels report that people gave Jesus this form of honor.
The palm branch was s symbol of triumph and of victory, in Jewish tradition and is treated in other parts of the Bible as such e.g. Leviticus 23:40.
Matthew quotes this passage from Zechariah 9:9. when narrating the story of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem. (Matthew 21:4-5). Meaning the event of the triumphant entry
was a fulfillment to prophecy. God took the form of a man, came on earth and actually led His tribesmen in the celebration of culture. What a historic moment.
Remember the materials they used (Palm branches) for the celebration had a significant symbolic meaning to them: Victory and Triumph. (nothing immoral or profane, satanic or evil. Those are not acceptable because evil communication corrupt good manners 1 Cor 15:33).
In the same way different peoples have various state, city, village or national historic and cultural symbols with deep, emotional, dignity, pride and significant meanings to them. E.g. is the statue of liberty ………………in the American history and Gye Nyame (Except God) symbol of the people of Ghana……….. The Ghanaian royal cloth ‘Kentey’ given as a gift to dignitaries, presidents communicates our appreciation, confidence, and praise for the recipient. If humans can bestow honors upon other human. What’s wrong in doing that to the maker of all things and creator of man? He deserve more than that.
Celebration culture is being appreciative of God for the earth, the ecosystem, micro and macrocosm and the world He has put you in. Remember the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Psalm’ 24:1.
I seem to worry about Christians who have allowed this argument to encroach into their thinking so much that denominations have been form who try to shy away from expressions in worship and praise but its impossible because cultural and human expressions comes in a package into the human intuitiveness. Once you sing from a hymnbook, respond with Amen or applause you have subscribed to all the other forms of expressions in worship and praise. If you do not believe in expressions then you must as well not talk, eat, shed tears or even wake up when you sleep. You can see it’s not possible because these are parts of our Anthropological make up. I will deal with this in another topic: The Tabernacle of David- human expression in Praise and Worship. But for more detail exposition get my book Experience God’s Glory – the ultimate blessing for the true worshipper.