On Palm Sunday, Jesus and His disciples traveled to Jerusalem to observe the Passover celebration. Jesus’s actions on that day fulfilled centuries-old prophecies. “Go into the village over against you,” He told two of His disciples, “and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me” (Matthew 21:2). They did as He said, and Jesus entered the city in the very manner Old Testament prophets had foretold (see Zechariah 9:9).
What is Palm Sunday?
Palm Sunday commemorates the day of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which set in motion the events leading to His Atonement, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.
It is called Palm Sunday because of the palm leaves and branches that were strewn on the road before Jesus as he entered the city—a custom symbolizing victory. The original Palm Sunday began the final week of Jesus’s mortal life and ministry. Today, Palm Sunday is observed in conjunction with Good Friday and Easter to celebrate the Resurrection and eternal life Jesus Christ offers to all.
What happened on Palm Sunday?
Beloved by His followers
By this point in Jesus’s ministry, many people had either heard of or witnessed His miracles and teachings. When they saw Him approaching the city, “a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way” (Matthew 21:8). “Hosanna,” they proclaimed. “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest” (Mark 11:9–10).
Begrudged by leaders
But not everyone welcomed Jesus with shouts of praise. The Pharisees, a group of powerful Jewish religious leaders, resented His popularity and felt the authority they enjoyed was threatened by Him. Indeed, it seemed to them “the world is gone after him” (John 12:19).
Why was Palm Sunday significant?
A claim to royalty
Traditionally, the donkey represented Jewish royalty and signified peace, while the horse symbolized combat. Arriving in a city on a steed may have been perceived by the governing Romans as a threat to their jurisdiction. But by entering with signs of peace and royalty, Jesus openly declared Himself the King of kings and Prince of Peace to the Jewish people—without showing hostility to Roman rule. His claim of royalty was a bold declaration—and the final straw for the jealous Jewish leadership. They met that day, scheming to silence Jesus and invalidate His claim to be the Son of God.
Public honor and acceptance
By carpeting Jesus’s path with clothing and palm fronds, the multitude honored Jesus and showed their acceptance of Him as their king. Their shouts of “Hosanna,” which means “Save us now” or “Save, we pray,” clearly indicated that the people acknowledged Jesus as the Savior (the one who would save them) and long-awaited Messiah.
Fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy
Besides His foretold arrival on a donkey, the words of praise uttered by the multitude also echoed ancient scripture. Through their shouts, the people recognized Jesus as the Lord who had delivered Israel anciently. “Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him” (Isaiah 62:11).
The Apostle John recognized this fulfillment of prophecy. He later recorded, “These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him” (John 12:16).
What can Palm Sunday mean for you?
The people in Jerusalem that eventful Sunday knew something about Jesus. Some had witnessed His miracles; others had heard His teachings. Some knew Him only by reputation. But at His bold declaration of divine nobility, each person had the opportunity to accept or reject Jesus as their king.
In the week that followed His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus manifested His role as Savior through His suffering in Gethsemane and then His Crucifixion on Good Friday followed by His miraculous Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Through these events He made it possible for all people—including you—to be forgiven of sins, to be resurrected, and to find lasting peace and joy.
Today, you have the same opportunity as the people who observed that first Palm Sunday: to welcome Jesus Christ and to accept Him as King of kings and Savior of the world.