This weekend, Christians across the world will be folding their palms into crosses and praising Jesus for his death and resurrection, otherwise known as the triumphal entry. It is a beautiful Mass to start Holy Week and remember the gift that Jesus gave us through his life on earth.
Many Catholics hold the palms during church and wonder about the significance behind the branches in their hands. Let’s break down the Palm Sunday meaning.
What Does the Bible Say About the Palm Sunday Meaning?
Palm Sunday, meaning Passion Sunday as well, falls on the last Sunday in Lent and begins Holy Week, the week leading up to Jesus’s death on the cross. Catholics will celebrate the triumphal entry with the blessing of the palms by the priest and read the Passion of the Christ during the Gospel.
According to Matthew 21, Jesus tells his disciples, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If any one says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and he will send them immediately.”
Then Matthew recounts Jesus’s arrival into Jerusalem as the following: “Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
“Hosanna” means “please save us.” The followers shout this during the triumphal entry, for they look forward to Jesus’s kingdom and desire to be saved by Him.
In Jerusalem, whenever any important figure would arrive, the laying of palms or coats would serve as a carpet for them to walk on, which is a symbol of reverence and praise.
Similarly, the palms that Jesus’s followers laid at his feet signify victory and are meant to praise Jesus as their king. While the palms symbolize triumph, they also foreshadow Jesus’s victory over death. Although Jesus is mocked and ridiculed upon the cross, He rises from the dead and opens the gates of Heaven so that all God’s children may join Him in Heaven after death.
Why Did Jesus Ride in on a Donkey?
While Jesus was on Earth, He claimed He was the son of King David, the Messiah, the ruler of Heaven and Earth. Normally, when kings arrived in a town or city, they would enter on a chariot or on horseback. But Jesus wasn’t a king on Earth. The donkey symbolizes the peace that Jesus would bring with His Passion and death.
Jesus’s riding on a donkey also fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘See, your King comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
Even though Jesus rode through Jerusalem on a donkey thousands of years ago, His gift still matters to us today. What can you praise Jesus for in your life this Palm Sunday?