The Accused

Palm Sunday:

The Accused

By Augusto A. Kho

March 25, 2018 (Sunday)


The Triumphal entry


Often we seek the praise of men. Beware, it can be too dangerous than we can imagine. Beware when someone praises you in the public, he or she could be your fiercest enemy.

While God’s harsh rebuke may be worthy of life, on the other hand, the praise of men can doom you to death. Anne Bradstreet said, “Sweet words are like honey, a little may refresh, but too much gluts the stomach.”

The triumphal entry

Matthew 21:9, “And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”


Hosanna means “Oh save!” or “exclamation of adoration.” This account can be found in the four Gospels (Mark 11:9-10; Luke 13:35, and John 12:13).

In ancient times, palm branches symbolized goodness and victory. They were often depicted on coins and important buildings. Solomon had palm branches carved into the walls and doors of the temple (1 Kings 6:29). Again at the end of the Bible, people from every nation raise palm branches to honour Jesus (Revelation 7:9).

Revelation 7:9, “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of

all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.”



The donkey

According to William David Davies and Dale C. Allison the symbolism of the donkey may refer to the Eastern tradition that it is an animal of peace, versus the horse, which is the animal of war. A king would have ridden a horse when he was bent on war and ridden a donkey to symbolize his arrival in peace. Jesus' entry to Jerusalem would have thus symbolized his entry as the Prince of Peace, not as a war-waging king




Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egyptian religion, the palm was carried in funeral processions and represented eternal life.




Post Jesus era

The palm branch later was used as a symbol of Christian martyrs and their spiritual victory or triumph over death (Source: Fernando Lanzi and Gioia Lanzi, Saints and Their Symbols: Recognizing Saints in Art and in Popular Images (Liturgical Press, 2004), p. 25.)


We saw Philip, the evangelist tomb in Hierapolis of Phrygia of ancient Asia Minor (now called Turkey). It is believed that Apostle Paul also stayed there for several years together with John the Beloved before he was placed into exile in the island of Patmos.



We also went to visit the ancient city of Smyrna where Antipas was called by the Lord Christ as “faithful martyr, who was slain among you,” (Rev. 2:13).


In Smyrna we visited where the first Christian bishop was put into cell whose name is …


Polycarp, was tied down on a wood; skinned; then thrown into a blazing oven for not abandoning his Christian faith. Ignacius, a 2nd century historian wrote his ordeal. Polycarp is a known disciple of John the Beloved. He lived between 69-114 AD. He was a native of Izmir. Majority is pagan then , Polyarp,is Christian bishop in Smyrna.


Imperialism existed that time as well as cult worship (worship to emperor) which was made under the Roman Senate through legislation called “Imperial Cult” i.e. “to worship Emperor” is synymous of worshipping God Himself. When Polycarp gradually had a huge followers the Roman Government did not like it. The governor called Polycarp to give up his faith. For several times Polycarp said “ NO.”



He and other Christians were placed on hillside were they were burned alive but the fire did not harm him. And people said, "kill him, kill him." Then 82 years old, Polycarp said, says," "For all these years, my Lord did not give me any harm, why should I will leave my King?" . The fire kissed her body yet he was not harmed, until he was taken out from the fire and the Roman soldiers thrust his body with sword that killed him instantly.




Triumph in Christ

2 Cor. 2:14: “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. ”


The word “to triumph” in Greek “thriambeuo” (three-am-byoo-o).means “to triumph; to celebrate a triumph.” Strong said “sung in honour of Baccus ( the Roman god of wine) or “ to make an acclamatory procession i.e. to give victory.”




Paul called Christians as spectacle like an enemy of the state when he said in 1 Corinthians 4:9 these very words, “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. “




Christians who refuse to deny the Lord is worthy of being thrown into amphitheatre or coliseum as worthy to be an spectacle by the cheering public until it bleeds you to death.



Ancient Greece and Roman Culture

In the Greco-Roman culture of the Roman Empire, which strongly influenced Christian tradition, the palm branch was a symbol of triumph and victory. It became the most common attribute of the goddess Nike or Victory according to Reidar Hvalvik, "Christ Proclaiming His Law to the Apostles: The Traditio Legis-Motif in Early Christian Art and Literature," in The New Testament and Early Christian Literature in Greco-Roman Context: Studies in Honor of David E. Aune (Brill, 2006), p. 432;


It reminds me of the famous phrase of Italian atheist and philosopher Tertullian who witnessed the horrifying massacre against the faithfuls of Christ who later on got converted as well. His famous quote is, "The blood of the martyrs are the seed of the church."



Falsely accused

In one instance you can become a hero after that you can be the accused. I am saying that without exaggeration because I experienced that myself in several instances.

At times, beware of formal meeting or official invitation.

In two instances, I was invited for pastoral meeting. The first one, I was warned it was a trap to falsely accuse me. The second one, 5 District Pastoral Heads succeeded to let me sit down to an invited formal board meeting only to be falsely accused without due process of the law and my right to be heard has been denied. It is indeed very sad that no pastor defended me on that time.

Jacques Verges said that “ Everybody has a right to be defended, and every lawyer has a duty to defend people accused. And my office is to defend him, to discuss the accusation point by point, as I think this is a normal step in a democracy.”

In one instance, I was formally invited to sit down as an observer in a legislative session of some lawmakers and I was tasked to stand inside the gallery to give a testimony on certain government’s “dubious ordinance.” Two weeks later, I received a subpoena from the Department of Justice (DoJ) for criminal charges.

Ben Chandler said, “ I have the happy circumstance of either being accused of political grandstanding on the one hand or cover-ups on the other.”

If Christ has been persecuted and falsely accused, shall we be spared from persecution? (John 15:20). We are not above than our Master Christ.

Matthew 27:12, “And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.”



The same account was recorded by another disciple (Mark 15:3) and the Luke the physician (Luke 23:10).

While Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem which is called the City of Peace riding on a donkey which is a symbol of peace, the city especially the Sanhedrin didn’t like that all. Conniving with one of Christ’s disciple named Judas they conspired with the Roman Government to falsely accused an innocent man.

In no instance that accusation can be an accident. Satan the great accuser of the brethren is kicking alive to find fault to any Christian (Rev. 12:10). Many great men and women of God fell to this demonic scheme just like the following:

  • Joseph, the dreamer was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and imprisoned. He survived and became 2nd most powerful man in Egypt.

  • Jeremiah was falsely accused and thrown to prison and pits on several times. The kings who accused me all died but he survived.

  • Job was falsely accused no less than Satan. He lost everything in just a day except his wife who kept nagging him. He survived.

  • Daniel was falsely accused, then thrown to the den of lions. Later he was thrown into the furnace of fire. He survived.

  • John the Baptist was falsely accused and later beheaded

  • Stephen was falsely accused and stoned to death.

  • Early apostles like Peter and John were falsely accused and thrown into prison. Peter was allegedly crucified head-down while John was placed into exile in the island of Patmos and died of old age.

  • Paul was falsely accused, then dragged from the temple in Jerusalem (Acts 21) then imprisoned and later executed in Rome during his second imprisonment.

  • Jesus said, “If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you;” (John 15:20b)

  • Paul in his epistle to Timothy writes, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,” (2 Tim. 3:12).

The crucifixion

When Christ entered Jerusalem in peace, the crowd jubilantly shouted “Hosanna… Hosanna..” then waved the palm trees held by their hands but in just few moments, the same crowd who shouted “Hosanna” immediately shifted voices and shouted “Crucify him, “ (Matthew 27:31; Mark 15:13-14, 20, 27; Luke 23:21; John 19:6, 10).

The horrified Pilate stood in between the rioting people instigated by the Sanhedrin. Pontius Pilate, the governor knew Paul’s rights as a Roman citizen and well-versed of due process tried to do the lawyering in behalf of the Lord Christ and he said,

Why, what evil hath he done?

But the crowd insisted as it is written, “They cried out the more saying, Let him be crucified, (Matthew 27:23)

Why the Lord Christ didn’t say a word? Why he did not protest? Because He is accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Yet God raised up Pilate, like a lawyer to plead for his cause. Lamentations 3:58 in New Living Translation (NLT), “Lord, you are my lawyer! Plead my case! For you have redeemed my life.”



As it is written

Whatever God has written is a decree that can never be amended nor superseded. As Paul puts it this way:


As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the daylong; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” – Romans 8:36-39 



Anne Boleyn said, “Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die.”

Unknown Indonesian man said, Whatever we have in the glory of man is "away". Those are just not enough before we go "home" to the glory of God.”

For Paul, he said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” (Phil. 1:21)