Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter that begins the Holy Week. It is the day that we remember and celebrate the day Jesus entered into Jerusalem as Savior and King. As Jesus rode a donkey into the town of Jerusalem a large crowd gathered and laid palm branches and their cloaks across the road, giving Jesus royal treatment. The hundreds of people shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
WHEN IS PALM SUNDAY?
Many churches celebrate Palm Sunday, which is always the Sunday before Easter (see our When Is Easter? article). Maybe your church has children waving palm branches to help them connect to the story. But while this is a triumphal entry, it is Jesus’ first step toward His death.
Matthew 21:4 tells us:
‘This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’ *The prophecy is cited from Zechariah 9:9 and Isaiah 62:11.
Jesus had become somewhat of a celebrity among people who had heard of the miraculous raising of Lazarus from the dead, and they wanted to see Him and treat Him like a king. But Jesus wasn’t arriving to be their king on account of Lazarus; the story of Lazarus would have had the religious leaders in even more of an uproar and determined to put an end to His life, which He knew . . . Jesus’ glory would be greater than that of a local king.”
Things about Palm Sunday that Remind Us Christ is King
1. God’s Word tells us the people cut palm branches and waved them in the air, laid them out on the ground before Jesus as He rode into the city. The palm branch represented goodness and victory and was symbolic of the final victory He would soon fulfill over death.
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 1 Cor. 15:55
2. Jesus chose to ride in on a donkey, which directly fulfilled Old Testament prophecy of Zech. 9:9. In Biblical times, it was common for kings or important people to arrive by a procession riding on a donkey. The donkey symbolized peace, so those who chose to ride them showed that they came with peaceful intentions. Jesus even then reminded us that He is the Prince of Peace.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zech. 9:9
3. When the people shouted “Hosanna!” they were hailing Christ as King. That word actually means “save now,” and though in their own minds they waited for an earthly king, God had a different way in mind of bringing true salvation to all who would trust in Him.
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!” Ps. 118:26
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Rom. 10:9
4. The Bible says that Jesus wept for Jerusalem. In the midst of the praise of the moment, He knew in His heart that it wouldn’t be long that these same people would turn their backs on Him, betray Him, and crucify Him. His heart broke with the reality of how much they needed a Savior.
“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it, and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41-42
5. Palm Sunday reminds us that the reign of Christ is far greater than any the mind of man could ever conceive or plan. Man looked for someone to fight their battles in the present day world. Yet God had the ultimate plan of sending His Son to fight the final battle over death. This is the greatness of why we celebrate this week. Because of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, we can be set free of death.
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,'”John 11:25