Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of Jesus life on earth, part of the season of Lent. The Biblical accounts of Palm Sunday are found in Luke 19 and Matthew 21, and it is the day that Jesus rode on a donkey into Jerusalem. Let’s look at this interesting story in Jesus’ life and understand more about the meaning of Palm Sunday.
What Happened on Palm Sunday?
Jesus was in ministry as a rabbi (teacher) for 3 years, and during that time he traveled throughout the countryside preaching and teaching in different towns and villages. He came to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.
Jesus sent two of his disciples ahead of him to find an unbroken colt of a donkey. He told the disciplines what to say to the owners when they question why the disciples were taking it, “The Lord needs it.” (Luke 19)
The disciples brought the donkey to Jesus, threw their coats over it, and put Jesus on it.
A large crowd gathered. Many people had heard Jesus preach and were starting to understand that He was the Messiah, the one who had come to save them. (They did not understand that He was going to save them from destruction because of their sins. They expected an earthly king who would save them from political oppression.)
They cut palm branches, waved them in the air, and laid them on the ground before Jesus as a symbol that He was worthy to be king. They laid their coats on the ground before Him.
The crowds shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is the son of David!” and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
This made some of the Pharisees in the crowd furious, because they considered this blasphemy. They told Jesus to rebuke the crowds, but Jesus would not. The words the people spoke were true. Instead, Jesus said, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40)
What is the Meaning of Palm Sunday?
Because of the reaction of the crowd that day, that is why churches now use the term “Palm Sunday”.
The celebration of Palm Sunday is bittersweet. The crowd worshiped Jesus as He deserved, yet just one week later, the same people would mercilessly crucify Him, which He did not deserve.
In your own remembrance of Palm Sunday this year, consider the times when you do the same thing with your behavior.
Churches that celebrate Palm Sunday often recreate this event by passing out palm branches to all the participants in worship, or having children walk in a palm parade. Worship is joyful as songs honor Jesus as the true king. Yet there is a note of sadness, because the remembrance for Jesus’ death is just a few days away.
Some churches use palms to create crosses, and many churches save extra palm branches, dry them, and and burn them, using the ashes for Ash Wednesday the following year.
How do you celebrate Palm Sunday?
Additional Information and Resources
Palm Sunday — Arch book for children
Palms for Palm Sunday — St Jude
Palms for Palm Sunday — Catholic Supply
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