To celebrate the Passover, Jewish pilgrims flooded the streets of Jerusalem every year. The particular year near the end of Jesus’s life, on Palm Sunday, those who had heard of Jesus, His miracles, and His divinity welcomed Jesus as the Messiah for whom they had watched and waited. As was customary at the time, people cast palm fronds to cover Jesus’s path, showing they felt he was someone worthy of highest honor. Jesus entered the city riding a donkey, an animal symbolizing peace and Jewish royalty, and thereby fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy: “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9). As He passed, the multitude shouted, “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13). This Hosanna shout literally meant “Save us now” or “Save, we pray.”
This sign of devotion and belief that Jesus was the promised Messiah of the scriptures enraged Jewish leaders. “Behold, the world is gone after him” (John 12:19), they complained of the adoring crowd. Offended by Jesus’s claim to be the Son of God and resentful of His influence over Jewish followers, the Pharisees plotted to end His life.