Why We Celebrate Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday, the day where people wave palm branches in churches all over the world, even in places where Palm trees don’t exist.

A person looking in from the outside may find this tradition strange.

“Why are they waiving palm branches?”  “Where did they get them?  It’s Canada!”

To answer the question of getting the palm branches…you can get them at any floral store.

To answer the bigger question as to why we use them in church on the Sunday before Easter, that goes back to New Testament Times.  If you flip to the book of John, Chapter 12 Verse 12,  we’ll pick up the action there.

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King

12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,


“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[e]

“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:

15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey’s colt.”[f]

16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.

17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

The crowd used palm branches (because they were easily accessible in Israel) as an act of worship toward Jesus.  They did this because they knew he was the Messiah that prophets all through the Old Testament had talked about.  He had finally come into Jerusalem!  He had been healing the sick, casting out demons, feeding the hungry all over the countryside and now Jesus was in the nation’s capital.  He was the King of Kings and he would defeat their Roman oppressors.  (Rome would indeed fall…but not in the way they expected or wanted).  Jesus came to conquer bigger things,  our sin, and death.  (and that right there is a big reason to celebrate!)

He came into the city on a donkey which means he had come in peace.  A waring king would have come in on a horse.   I’m not sure how some didn’t get that.  Maybe that part wasn’t passed down in oral tradition as much.

So the next time you see a bunch of crazy people waving palm branches, this is most likely the reason why.

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