Palm Sunday is the observance of the day Jesus entered into Jerusalem prior to his arrest, trial, and subsequent execution. It is commemorated on week prior to the Resurrection Celebration of Jesus’ rising from the dead. Many Christians refer to this week as Passion Week and it is the end of the period of Lent. This entry into Jerusalem is a demonstration of the King entering Jerusalem and Jesus’ submission to his role in the redemption of Israel, and all of mankind. This is a deliberate move by Jesus in fulfilling prophecy.
In the book of the prophet Daniel we see in chapter 9 that there will be 483 years from the command to rebuild Jerusalem to the coming of the Messiah. Nehemiah chapter 2 records for us, “And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king,” (Nehemiah 2:1), Historical documents from the Babylonian era puts this date at March 14, 445 B.C. This brings us 483 years later, (using Jewish calendars) to April A.D. 32. 
The timing of the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem was of not just to take in the sites and see family and friends. The arrival of Christ at this time had significant theological, political, and prophetical implications. Jesus came to Jerusalem during the time of Passover. This was a special celebration of the Israelites delivery from death. Passover was a time of special pilgrimage. Jerusalem’s population of 40,000 would swell to over 240,000 in anticipation of this great festival of thanksgiving. The term Passover comes from the Jewish word Pesach, which means “to pass over”. In Exodus we are relayed the story of how God delivered the Israelis from slavery in Egypt through 10 plagues, the last of which was death itself. They were sparred the death of the first born by sacrificing a lamb and spreading it’s blood on the door posts, top, and both sides. When death came and saw the blood of the lamb, death passed over that house. Any home that was not covered with the blood of the lamb was entered by death and the life of the eldest son was taken. So when we consider the offering of Jesus as a lamb for the slaughter, and in whose blood we are covered, we know that death passes over us also. Death is the penalty for sin. In Egypt, death was the penalty for disobedience to God. Sin is disobedience to God. Let us take a look at the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on start of Passion Week and the Passover. What Jesus was about to do in the manor he chose to enter Jerusalem would not only have an effect not only on Jesus and his followers, not the Jewish and Roman leaders, but mankind and all of creation.
In entering Jerusalem on a little donkey, Jesus declared himself the long awaited Messiah, and the deliverer of Israel and the nations of the earth as promised to Abraham thousands of years in advance. If you are not familiar with the telling of the events witnessed in scripture you can find them at:
- Luke 19:29-44
- John 12:12-19
- Mark 11:1-10
- Matthew 21:1-11
I know that some reading this do not have a bible to reference these events so here is Matthew’s account.
And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. – Matthew 21:1-11
Both John and Matthew make reference to something. Nestled in their accounts is a reminder of the faithfulness of God and the importance of the study of his Word. In here is another prophecy from the Old Testament. The prophet Zechariah proclaimed, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” (Zechariah 9:9). Just as a side note, for those of you who have read the Revelation 19 and Zechariah 14:4, John tells us that when Jesus comes at his second coming, that he will place his foot on Mount Olivet. I think it is no accident that Jesus entered Jerusalem from the direction of the Mount of Olives.
Now the meaning this manor that Jesus entered Jerusalem was not lost on the Jews nor the Pharisees. The entering of a man into the city on an ass was probably not such a big deal. This had everything to do with who the man was and what he represented. Jerusalem was ripe with rumors of a messiah. They were looking for the return on the throne of David. They anticipated to have a great man of God to deliver a message from Jehovah. They desired to have an Israelite above all other Israelis to liberate them from the oppression of Rome and bring God’s judgement to the world. The fame of Jesus as a man of God was all out the region. There were witnesses the asserted he could heal the sick, even those afflicted by the incurable diseases like leprosy. Others told how he had restored sight, a sign that God was with him. Then there were the ones who told how Jesus had cast out demons, and how he stood up to the religious hierarchy, and that even the authority of the Pharisees could not supersede his. This man possessed authority both in heaven and in earth. Then, came the stories of his raising at least two people from the grave. This man, Jesus of Nazareth, had authority even over death. Surely this is the Son of David, the Son of God who has come to deliver his chosen people. Wow what an exciting day!
As Jesus entered into the city in such a symbolic way, the message was receive loud and clear. The common people of Jerusalem and all of Israel that were gathered began to tear the branches from the trees and lay the branched and their cloaks in to the path of their king. Like a red carpet event in Hollywood, California, people were in a fanfare of the undeniable message being given to them by Jesus. They worshiped him and called out loudly, “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” (Luke 19:38). The Gospel of St. Matthew gave another point of view of these events when the author wrote, “The crowds that went ahead of Him and those that followed were shouting: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest!’”(Matthew 21:9) The term “Hosanna” is from the Hebrew hishi’a na and had the intent of “save”, but; the meaning is that of a complete thought. The expression means, “Salvation, Thank You” and is intended as a show of recognition and gratitude to Jehovah for his “saving us”. It was clearly a great time of jubilationfor Jesus and the crowd. But not everyone was happy with the proceedings. The religious leadership in Jerusalem were greatly trouble by this display of public affection for Jesus. They feared a riot and the inevitable consequences that would be inflicted upon them from Rome, and the challenge to their authority presented in this bold challenge. Surely they must have also feared the wrath of God from the apparent blasphemy of this Jesus of Nazareth.
The Pharisees quickly challenged Jesus’ motivations for
entering Jerusalem in such a public manor; and told him to tell the crowds to
be quiet. They wanted him to deny that
he was the messiah and that he was the Son of God. Instead, Jesus insisted that he is who he is,
and that if the crowds were silent then the stones would cry out to give him
the honor he deserves. Wow, can you see
this. Jesus was saying that he is the
creator of the world. Creation itself
recognized its creator, but not man.
Jesus in essence told them I cannot deny who I am and even if the crowd
did not, then the rest of creation would testify that I am the Son of God, the
Word who was in the beginning, the creator of everything that is seen and
unseen in heaven and in earth. This
laying of the palm leaves at the triumphant entry of the promised Messiah into
the city of Jerusalem, and the confrontation at the gate, marks the beginning
of the Passion Week and the advent of Palm Sunday.