The Meaning Of Palm Sunday

Christians all over the world celebrate Palm Sunday. But what exactly is Palm Sunday. This historical event has so much significance for every person living in the time of Jesus and beyond. Reading this will give you more understanding and appreciation for why we celebrate Palm Sunday.

woman hold a palm fond

Today is Palm Sunday. It’s the time when we celebrate the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Many churches hand out palm branches. But what exactly is Palm Sunday? Its meaning is rich and deep and so exquisite! Let’s talk about what Palm Sunday is.

To understand Palm Sunday, we need to set the stage by going back in time and location to Jerusalem in the early part of the first century.

1st Century Jerusalem

Jerusalem was a bustling, center-of-the-world land. Filled with people from the nation of Israel and many other nations, too! Especially from Rome! Why Rome? Rome had conquered much of the world at that time, and Israel was one of its conquests.

Let’s go back to just before the Passover Feasts, a trio of God-ordained Feast days for Jews. On our calendar, they fall somewhere between mid-March and early April.

The Jews considered three feasts, the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of First Fruits, very special, and they celebrated them during this time.

These were mandatory feast days with very few exceptions. So, almost all of the Jews living in Palestine at that time were tightly gathered in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Jewish Temple and to take part in a nationwide convocation. You can read about these feast days in Leviticus 23.

During this time, and particularly this year, the city and surrounding area also teamed with Roman soldiers, keeping the “Pax Romana” or peace Roman style. There had been uprisings by the Jews and unrest. Many Jews wanted liberation from Rome!

Jesus And His Ministry

Now, let’s turn our attention to Jesus. At the time, Jesus was a rabbi (teacher of the law), a miracle worker, a rebel, and a rockstar! One thing Jesus was not was obscure!

His ministry had become renowned in Israel and beyond.

Some loved Him, some hated Him, and more followed Him to see the signs and wonders He performed as He spoke of the kingdom of God with great authority. An authority that was blasphemous to the Jewish leadership.

One thing that was always in Jesus’ wake was controversy.

A Tipping Point

Controversy quickly turned into direct conflict between Jesus and the Jewish leadership. It had been building like steam in a pressure cooker. The Jewish leadership could not keep Jesus in line!

The tipping point of this conflict came when Jesus raised His friend Lazarus from the dead. This happened days before the Passover feasts! You can read about this historical event in John 11.

Jesus was powerful, too powerful for the Jewish leadership, and his massive following was a threat to the stability of Jewish leadership and Roman occupation!

Jesus spoke with an authority that the Jews had never heard before. He called God HIS father.  In essence, Jesus was proclaiming Himself the long-awaited King of the Jews, the Messiah or, in the Greek language, Christ!  So frightened of losing power and control over Israel, the religious Jewish leadership was openly seeking to put Jesus to death.

Although the Jews had been looking for this King sent by God to put things right, they were not looking for a king like Jesus. They did not believe He was the leader the Jews had been anticipating for centuries!

But He was and is! 

Now, let’s look at Palm Sunday…

The Historical Events Of Palm Sunday

Jesus, like all good Jews, had come to Jerusalem for the Passover feasts with his disciples. When the people of Jerusalem heard that Jesus was entering the city, they went out to the Mount of Olives (just outside the city) to meet Him. Remember, by this time, Jesus had rockstar status. Everyone in Jerusalem and all the surrounding areas knew of His miraculous works.

The crowds of people started casting their cloaks down to make a road for Jesus, an ancient expression of honor and submission.

They also cut branches from palm trees and spread them before him. Many of the crowd were carrying and waving palm branches, too, a symbol of victory—national victory over the oppressive Roman Empire. Most in the crowd saw Jesus as the leader who would set up the earthy self-rule of Israel, overthrowing the Roman Empire.

They were greeting Jesus as a triumphant king, coming into the capital city to overtake it. They thought Jesus would be THE ONE to lead a military uprising against the Roman occupiers and usher in a government that would set all things straight. Their cries of Hosannah “save us” or “God saves” were evidence of this.

Who The Crowds Thought Jesus Was

Finally, the long-awaited Messiah was coming home! The hero of all heroes was coming home to Israel. They had waited and suffered for so long! Their Torah, the first 5 books of the Bible, and their prophets had been prophesying about Him for centuries.

He would make all things right again for the Jews who had been captured and overrun and abused by conquering nation after nation for centuries!

The fulfillment of prophecy and Scripture about the Messiah was taking place before their very eyes! Prophesy and Scripture that all Jews knew full well was coming to pass!

A Horse Or A Donkey

Jesus, the Messiah, the King of the Jews, and the Savior of the world, was coming down the Mount of Olives through the throngs of ecstatic Jews riding on donkeys. The foal of a donkey. A foul that had never been ridden before.

The imagery is rich and so important!

In ancient times, if a king came into a land riding on a white horse, he came as a conquering king! He would be ready to set up his style of government and meter out his type of judgment in his own way!

However, if a king rode into a land he conquered riding on a donkey, it was a symbol that he had come as a peaceable king—a king of kindness, grace, and peace.

The Jews were expecting their Messiah to be a riding-on-a-white-horse kind of king, full of power and fury!

The King Of Peace

Palm Sunday was Jesus’ kingly entrance into the capital city of Jerusalem. Jesus was coming in as the King Of Peace! The peace He offered was not between the Jews and the Roman Empire. It was much, much greater! It was the peace between God and man!

If only the nation Israel had understood this as a whole. They had the Torah, the first 5 books of the bible, the Prophets, the Covenant, the Temple, the Promises, and more.

A handful of Jews knew and believed! But the nation as a whole did not! Remember this! We’ll circle back to this in a minute.

A Resurrected King

Jesus died only a few days later. Nailed to the cross in the most degrading and torturous way. Our sinless Savior died a sinner’s death. The sins He died for were not His. They were for the sins of the whole world. Your sins and my sins. He died in our place and paid the debt for the sin we could never pay!

Then He rose from the dead three days later, showing He was and is the victorious King. He was the King over sin and death. His substitutionary death brought peace between God and men! And because of this, here’s what Romans 5:1 says about all those who accept Jesus’ gift of salvation…

Therefore, having been justified (made not guilty of our sins because Jesus died for them in our place) by faith (believing that Jesus is your Savior and submitting your life to Him), we have peace with God!

Jesus’ First And Second Coming

Jesus’ first trip to planet Earth was to set things right between God and man. Not man and man! He came to this world with a gospel of peace and forgiveness and repentance and love straight from His Father! And this gospel is and is for everyone!

Jesus is coming back! HE IS COMING BACK! But the next time Jesus comes back to planet Earth, he will be riding on a white horse!

And I saw heaven opened: and behold, a white horse and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. Revelation 19:11

Are you waiting for him? Do you anticipate the Hero of the world’s second coming? When He comes again, it will be to set up His kingdom on earth. 

They Did Not Believe

Now, let’s touch on what I asked you to remember. The nation of Israel as a whole did not recognize its King on Palm Sunday, even though it could have known the very day the first Palm Sunday happened because the Book of Zachariah prophesied it.

Your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zach 9:9

On that first Palm Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem in a big symbolic way to show the nation of Israel that HE was the king they were waiting for. But they did not recognize Him! They did not want the kind of kingship he offered.

If they would have believed, the Kingdom of God would have been ushered in! It is always disbelief that robs us of God’s forgiveness and blessings!

Is He Your King?

Many of us will receive palm branches today in church. They are a symbol of Jesus’ first coming as the King of Peace and the salvation He offers us. A victory indeed!

Will you receive Him as your King?

Our King is coming! He is coming, and one day soon, on a white horse to set all things in order! Let’s wave our palm branches before the King!

And as the ancient throngs of early believers would say…

MARANATHA, which means “THE LORD IS COMING”. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Scripture to meditate on this week…

“Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” John 12:13

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I love your decorating tips….
    But I treasure what you say each Sunday.
    Thank you for your straight forward Bible based expressions.
    It is deeply appreciated

  2. Thank you so much. This is so beautifully written. I appreciate so much that you share your love, knowledge, and beliefs . Happy Palm Sunday. Blessings, Debbie

  3. Thank you for sharing this. Have a blessed week!

  4. Teresa Emrich says:

    Always enjoy your explanation of Biblical scriptures. How could anyone doubt the Bible’s teachings… the true words of God! Why do people not understand what Salvation can do for them and how easy it is to receive? We are NOT promised tomorrow, and I choose Heaven as my Eternity!!!

    1. Amen! Pray for those who doubt. Believing is the calling of God first. And we need the Holy Spirit in us to understand the Bible.

  5. Nancy Brantley says:

    Help me understand? When Jesus comes the second time will we live here on earth or heaven?? Love your Sunday emails.

    1. What a great question. When Jesus puts His nail pierced feet on planet Earth for the second time (on the Mt. Of Olives in Israel) we will will come back, as we were in heaven with Him during the Tribulation, with Him to rule for 1,000 years. He will set up an earthly kingdom and do what the first Adam could not- rule and reign. After a thousand years, (Rev 20) the non-believers of the earth will be judged for their deeds. The heaven and earth will be destroyed by God and there will be a new heaven and new earth for believers. I believe we will have access to both heaven and earth at that time. The end times events are fascinating! I hope my explanation helps.

      1. Nancy Brantley says:

        Thank you so much explaining this to me!! Love your Sunday blog!