Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus entering Jerusalem on the week He would be tried, crucified, and raised from the Dead. It is the Sunday before Easter. The event is found in all four gospels (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; and John 12:12-19).
Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey (or “ass” if you are reading the King James Version and/or looking for an excuse to say “ass” in church), as Zechariah 9:9 prophesied that the Messiah would. The people greeted him by waving palm branches and laying palm branches on the ground for the donkey to walk on, hence the term “Palm Sunday.”
In the Greco-roman world, the palm branch was a symbol of victory. So a scene of a man riding in as people waved palm branches and quoted verses about Zion’s King coming would have invoked some parallels to a Roman triumph, when a conquering military hero received a victory parade.
That is the most striking part of Palm Sunday to me, and why it is an important part of the Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter) to remember. Jesus was not a victim of circumstance or an unwitting participant in the events that would happen later in the week. He knew what He was doing. He went into Jerusalem on a mission, in a way that was openly declaring who He was- a king here to claim His kingdom.
As He would later tell the Roman governor, His kingdom wasn’t territory. It wasn’t even visible. His kingdom is us- our hearts and souls. He would do whatever it took to claim it.
When Thursday and Friday roll around, and Jesus is being falsely convicted by a sham court and brutally executed, it is important to remember the scene of Palm Sunday. He was not dragged to the Cross unwillingly. It was a victory parade.
-Matt from The Birdge