Why Do Christians Celebrate Palm Sunday as a Holy Day?

If you have ever visited a church on Palm Sunday and received a palm branch or a piece of a palm branch, then you may already know the answer.

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Jesus Entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday

First off, this Christian holy day is called “palm” Sunday for a reason. If you have ever visited a church on Palm Sunday and received a palm branch or a piece of a palm branch, then you may already know the answer.

If you aren’t too sure, then read on.

The Bible explains in the New Testament gospel accounts that when Jesus was riding a donkey into Jerusalem, the people watching celebrated his “triumphal entry” into the city by waving palm branches. Some even threw their cloaks onto the path for Jesus to cross on.

Palm branch photo
Photo by SamuelJohn.de

Jesus’ reputation as a miracle worker had grown and many people were curious about him.

Some were even expecting that he would be the great king to finally free them from Roman occupation. Yes, Jesus was the messiah, some had realized, but others had great expectations for their Jewish liberator–none of which likely included his death.

In one Bible account, people who had witnessed or heard about how Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead were among the crowd that came to greet him with palm branches on the road into Jerusalem. Matthew 21:8 indicates that this was a huge crowd that had come to meet Jesus.

Needless to say, Jesus was greeted like a rock star on his way into Jerusalem.

John 12:13 reveals that the gathered people shouted “Hosanna!” as Jesus made his way past them. “Hosanna” was an expression of the people’s expectation that Jesus had come to finally save them. They added, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!”

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Little did anyone know, however, that Jesus did not come into the city seeking rock star status; he entered Jerusalem to start his final week of life on Earth and prepare himself for the ultimate sacrifice. His goal was to save the people, but not in the way they expected.

Other Bible passages that help paint a picture of why Christians call the Sunday before Easter “Palm Sunday” include:  Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-40.

Scholars also say that the Old Testament passage of Zechariah 9:9-13 prophesies about Jesus’ pivotal entry into Jerusalem:

Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion!
Shout, daughter of Jerusalem!
Look! Your king is coming to you:
he is legitimate and victorious,
humble and riding on a donkey –
on a young donkey, the foal of a female donkey.

How do you celebrate Palm Sunday?

Photo by spbda

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