The Meaning of Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday is the day the Christian church remembers Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This day that He was hailed as King was most literally predicted by the prophet, Zechariah, when he wrote,
"Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey." Zechariah 9:9
Zechariah wrote these words about 480 years before Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19). The donkey is an animal symbolic of humility, peace and Davidic royalty. The colt of a donkey not only symbolizes humility and meekness, but the colt had not been ridden, so it was not ever put to secular use.
Jesus chose to enter Jerusalem in this way to publicly claim that he was the chosen Son of David to sit on David's throne. King David used this symbolism to proclaim his son, Solomon, to be the rightful heir to the throne.
The people, including children, took palm branches and went out to meet Jesus. Palm branches were used in celebration of victory. (John saw a multitude with palm branches in heaven.) The very large crowd also spread their cloaks on the road, much as we would roll out the red carpet today. This gesture to recognize royalty was also done when Jehu was anointed king of Israel.
People in front of Jesus and also people that followed behind Him, shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!" In Luke's gospel, the Pharisees in the crowd wanted Jesus to rebuke the crowd for calling Jesus by these terms that would have acknowledged Him as their promised Messiah (Hosanna means "God saves"), but Jesus told them that, "If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." (Luke 19:40)
Many Christian churches today use palm branches in their Palm Sunday service (the Sunday preceding Easter Sunday) and burn the palm branches so that the ashes can be used the following year on Ash Wednesday.
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