Palm Sunday, as celebrated today by many traditional parts of the Christian faith, marks the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem one week before His Crucifixion and Resurrection (Matthew 21:1-11). Some 450-500 years earlier, the Prophet Zechariah had prophesied, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). Matthew 21:7-9 records the fulfillment of that prophecy: “They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest! Their shout “Hosanna” meant “save now.”
This event took place on the Sunday before Jesus’ crucifixion and Resurrection, which was the start of what some call Holy Week. In the days in between, he preached, taught, presided over the Passover supper, stood trial, and was condemned to death.
The Bible tells us people cut branches from palm trees, laid them across Jesus’ path and waved them in the air. They greeted Jesus not as the spiritual Messiah who would take away the sins of the world, but as a potential political leader who would overthrow the Romans. Palm branches often symbolized goodness and victory. They were often seen on coins and important buildings. Solomon’s Temple had palm branches carved into the walls and doors of the temple (1 Kings 6:29). In the Book of Revelation, after the Church is Raptured to Heaven, people from the middle of the seven year Tribulation period are seen raising palm branches to honor Jesus (Revelation 7:9).
The long-awaited Messiah had come, the king of Israel, and not just of Israel but of all the earth. Jerusalem would be his capital city and from here he would rule the world in peace and righteousness. Or so they thought. They saw Jesus as their King moving in to take control to overthrow the Roman rule. One week later the crowds that cheered Him with “Hosanna’s” would turn on Him and shout “Crucify Him.” Even His disciples did not fully realize the victory that would be won one week later on His Cross where He would defeat sin, sickness, satan, death, and the curse.
If Jesus would have taken His throne on that day of celebrating His entry to Jerusalem with palms none of us would be celebrating our salvation today. Don’t neglect this great salvation. Give Him some praise today!