Waved Palms to Pierced Palms–Bending Low in Humility as a Leader

By Danya M. Jordan 

In these weeks of the Lenten Season, as we prepare our hearts and minds for Easter, I have been focused on the Bible passages from Palm Sunday to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus modeled so many courageous leadership lessons for all of us. One is the example Jesus demonstrates of His humility as He bends lower and lower.

It’s easy to focus on Palm Sunday. The crowd celebrated Jesus as Messiah, waving palm branches and singing “Hosanna.” (Matthew 21:1-11). Jesus rode in on a donkey, the symbol of humility prophesied in Zechariah 9:9. You would think the Messiah would have ridden in on a stallion. Not our wonderful Messiah, not Jesus.

Right after Palm Sunday’s sweet welcome, though, Jesus demonstrated righteous anger at the Temple in Jerusalem. He was upset that the money changers were charging people money for animals for sacrifices. Jesus showed righteous anger and overturned the tables of the money changes. “‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.'” (Matthew 21:12-13).  He cleansed the Temple and wants us to keep ourselves pure as well. 

Fast forward to Thursday night. Jesus wanted to celebrate Passover with His disciples. During His ministry, including the last days before His horrible death and glorious Resurrection,  Jesus optimized every moment trying to teach, train and empower his dense, yet teachable disciples. What a Leader, the best Leader of all time. Jesus wanted to ensure He conveyed all He could. In His mind and heart, He knew it was the Last Supper.

In our minds and hearts, it was the First Communion, the first Lord’s Supper. He taught His disciples that the bread is

“My body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19b) That the wine is His “blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28).

How do you feel when you take communion?   If you’re like me, I admit I sometimes take it for granted.  As we quarantine in our homes this Easter, let’s take communion. May we prayerfully savor the bread and cup with deep gratitude each time we are blessed to take communion.

That same Thursday night, in a poignant scene in John 13 of unconditional love and humility, Jesus stooped down low to wash His disciples’ feet. They didn’t want Him to, mind you. Feet are gross. He was teaching them, sweetly, softly, tenderly, what it means to be a servant leader. To bend low to raise others high.  The upside-down leadership pyramid.

“Truly, truly I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:16 ESV)


–How would you imagine Jesus riding into Jerusalem as our Messiah?

–Have you considered symbolically washing others’ feet? Are you a servant leader?


–“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” –John 3:!6 KJV


–What leadership lessons may we learn from Jesus?

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