What is Palm Sunday About?

What is Palm Sunday About?

Palm Sunday, which is the Sunday before Resurrection, is one of the few incidents in the life of Jesus that is present in all of the Gospels (Mark 11:1-11; Matthew 21:1-17; Luke 19:29-40 and John 12:12-19). But what is Palm Sunday all about? Why is it significant?

Palm Sunday commemorates the event known as the “Triumphal Entry.” This was about Jesus entering into Jerusalem riding on a colt. Since this event was mentioned by all Gospel authors, we can conclude that it was significant not only to the people of Jesus’ day but to all Christians throughout history.

Fulfillment of Prophecies & Demonstration of Jesus’ Authority

Before entering Jerusalem, Jesus sends two of His disciples ahead of Him to Bethphage to get the donkey and its colt that He needed for the event (Matthew 21:1-6; Mark 1:1-6; Luke 19:29-34). They were told that if anyone asked what they were doing, they were to say that the Lord needs them and then they would be sent right away.

Note: While most people today think of a donkey as nothing but a humble beast of burden, in that day, it was looked on as an animal fit for a king to use (1 Kings 1:33).

This preparation before the triumphal entry was designed by Jesus to demonstrate His authority. He knew that the animals would be there and He also knew that they would be given to His disciples if they said the Lord needed them.

Zechariah 9:9

At that time, the disciples did not understand the significance of what was happening but after the resurrection, they could look back and realize how Jesus had demonstrated in this and the other events His authority, that He was in control of all events and not losing control to evil times or wicked men (John 12:16) .

Riding on the back of a borrowed donkey’s colt that no one has ever ridden, a crowd comes to greet Jesus, laying before Him their cloaks and waving leafy branches on the road they cut from the trees. Jesus was in the center of the procession and the people all around Him were shouting expressions of praise and celebration, hailing Him as the “King of Israel.”

Little did the people know that they were fulfilling an ancient prophecy:

“Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.” – Psalm 118:25-26

What is the Significance of Palm Sunday?

Jesus’ riding into Jerusalem accomplished two purposes: 1) In the first part, He is revealed as the sovereign King, the one with authority but who comes in peace; and 2) as He entered Jerusalem Jesus was recognized as the coming Messiah who brings salvation.

The Gospels tell us that multitudes of people came with Jesus in the procession. The news of His arrival in Bethany had spread so there was time for the crowds to gather, especially those from Galilee and all those who were looking for the Messiah.

Needless to say, Messianic expectations were very high at this time so the people naturally thronged to see Him when the word of His arrival in the area spread. After all, His teachings and miracles had drawn crowds everywhere He went.

What is Palm Sunday all About?
Photo Credits: Free Bible Images (Pinterest)

As Jesus rides into Jerusalem as a conquering King He is hailed by the people as such, in the manner of the day. He ascends into the royal city, His palace, like a king and receives the praise and worship of the people that only He so deserves.

Interestingly, no longer does Jesus tell His disciples to be quiet about Him but to shout His praises. That day, Jesus openly declared to the people that He was their King and the Messiah they had been waiting for.

Unfortunately, the people did not welcome Jesus and lavished Him with their praises because they recognized Him as their Savior from sin. They received Him out of their desire for a messianic deliverer who would lead them to revolt against Rome.

Roman Triumphal Entry vs. Christ’s Triumphal Entry

At Passover season, the city of Jerusalem was the delight of the Jews and the despair of the Romans. Thousands of devout Jews from all around the world would arrive in the Holy City with their hearts full of excitement and nationalistic fervor.

During the festival, the population of Jerusalem more than tripled making it necessary for the Roman military units to be on special alert. They lived with the possibility that some enthusiastic Jewish Zealot might try to incite a riot or kill a Roman official. There was also the potential for disputes among various Jewish religious groups.

What is Palm Sunday all about?

Jesus’ triumphal entry was nothing like that of a Roman triumphal entry but it was a triumph just the same because as God’s anointed King and Savior, His conquest would not be military but spiritual.

In order to merit a triumph, a Roman general would have to kill at least five thousand enemy soldiers. But the Gospel would “conquer” some five thousand Jews and transform their lives in a few weeks (Acts 4:4). Christ’s “triumph” would be the victory of love over hatred, truth over error, and life over death.

Crucify Him! Crucify Him!

When the people saw Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey, they hoped that perhaps He would be to them a great temporal deliverer. They hailed Him as King with their praises, recognizing Him as the Son of David who came in the name of the Lord.

Jesus had been widely recognized by his followers as “the Coming One.” So when the people repeated their “Hosanna” to God in the highest, they were praising God for sending them the Messiah, the Savior of Israel.

Note: The word “hosanna” is the Greek writing of the Hebrew verb “save;” it is a request for salvation or deliverance, as in Psalm 118:25. It was part of the Hallel, consisting of Psalm 113 – 118, which was sung at the Passover season.

What is the significance of Palm Sunday

They recognized that Jesus was a prophet and so it was fairly easy for them to get caught up in the Messianic fervor in light of His miracles and teachings. They hailed Him as their King without grasping the truth about His inevitable suffering as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

In fact, even the people closest to Jesus did not understand that His triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the promised Messiah was not to take up His throne but to die on the cross.

And when Jesus failed the expectations of the crowd and refused to lead them in a massive revolt against the Romans, they quickly turned on Him and within just a few days, their shouts of “Hosanna” would change to cries of “Crucify Him!” (Luke 23:21).

Note: The Jewish leaders had decided not to arrest Jesus during the feast, but God had determined otherwise. The Lamb of God must die at Passover.

Significance of Palm Sunday to Believers Today

Palm Sunday is something that Christians continue to celebrate and commemorate today. It was an important event that served as a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies (Zechariah 9:9; Psalm 118:25-26), Jesus’ recognition as sovereign King and Messiah and it prepared the way for the events that led to His death and resurrection.

The Jews desired deliverance from the Roman occupiers, but Jesus came to deliver us on a much deeper level – from the power of sin and death.

As our Savior, deliverer and King Jesus truly deserve all our praises and adoration. Hallelujah! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

Conclusion

Palm Sunday is the story of Jesus the King who came not in His majestic glory and splendor; He did not come as a conquering king with His kingdom of armies. Instead, Jesus came on a lowly donkey, on the clothes of the poor and humble, in lowliness and servanthood.

When Jesus came for the first time, He came in love, grace, and mercy and sacrificed His own life for the redemption of mankind. But when Jesus comes again, He will come in power and glory to conquer, rule and reign.

Are you awaiting His return?

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