In the gospel of John in the New Testament of the Bible, we find the story of Palm Sunday. But before diving into Palm Sunday, let’s take a look at what Jesus was doing the few days beforehand. When we look in the verses around John, chapter 12, we see that, six days before Passover, Jesus is with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. A few days before this, we see that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. Just take a second to visualize the timeline of what’s going on. Jesus had traveled to raise Lazarus from the dead; is now present with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha; will ride into Passover on a baby donkey; predict His own death; have people not believe Him, despite all the miracles He has shown them; and then wash His disciples’ feet—all on the way to giving His life for us all. What a humble, selfless, and unconditionally loving king!
Palm Sunday was the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem before He was arrested, crucified, and rose again. We remember Palm Sunday as part of the last week of Lent, and the beginning of Holy Week. It is the Sunday before Easter. We find an account in John 12:
12 “The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors 13 took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, ‘Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hail to the King of Israel!’ 14 Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: 15 “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.”
Let’s talk about the donkey. We see Jesus become the “least of these” from the very beginning of Palm Sunday, as He makes His royal entrance into Jerusalem. This was a completion of a prophecy, showing that God is specific in, and faithful to, His promises.
A typical king would not be seen on a donkey, let alone a baby donkey. They would enter on horseback in an extravagant way. We see our humble, selfless, and unconditionally loving king enter on the back of a baby donkey, showing us how different He is from worldly kings. Most kings would move in plain power, Jesus moved in pure peace.
Let’s take the palm branches. The reason for the name Palm Sunday is because this was the day people placed palm branches in the path of Jesus. They waved them in the air as He entered Jerusalem. These branches were seen as symbols of victory in the culture and time period. The people uttered praises to Jesus and laid down symbolic palm branches showing that they trusted He was victorious.
Here is a suggested reading plan for you to follow by reading a chapter of John each day up to Palm Sunday:
April 1 – John 3 April 2 – John 4 April 3 – John 5 April 4 – John 6
April 5 – John 7 April 6 – John 8 April 7- John 9 April 8 – John 10
April 9 – John 11 April 10 (Palm Sunday) – John 12
As we anticipate Palm Sunday, don’t let this season pass without taking time to reflect and respond. As we look at how Jesus lived His life in the weeks and days before He sacrificed His for ours, may we seek for ways amid the mundane moments of busy life to imitate His humility, selflessness, and unconditional love in our own lives. As we read about the crowd of people who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem by laying down palm branches, representing victory, at his feet, think about what you can lay at Jesus’ feet this Palm Sunday, as you trust in His victory over death. God kept His promises and fulfilled prophecies back then, and He is still the same God now. He is faithful and specific. Take time this Palm Sunday season to follow through the Scriptures the journey of Jesus on His way to the cross!