What Is Palm Sunday?

What Do Christians Celebrate on Palm Sunday?

Palm Sunday
SuperStock / Getty Images

On Palm Sunday Christians celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, the week before his death and resurrection. For many Christian churches, Palm Sunday, often referred to as "Passion Sunday," marks the beginning of Holy Week, which concludes on Easter Sunday.

Palm Sunday in the Bible - The Triumphal Entry

Jesus traveled to Jerusalem knowing that this journey would end in his sacrificial death on the cross for the sins of all mankind.

Before he entered the city, he sent two disciples ahead to the village of Bethphage to look for an unbroken colt:

As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' say, 'The Lord needs it. ' " (Luke 19:29-31, NIV)

The men brought the colt to Jesus and placed their cloaks on its back. As Jesus sat on the young donkey he slowly made his humble entrance into Jerusalem.

The people greeted Jesus enthusiastically, waving palm branches and covering his path with palm branches:

The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest heaven!" (Matthew 21:9, NIV)

The shouts of "Hosanna" meant "save now," and the palm branches symbolized goodness and victory. Interestingly, at the end of the Bible, people will wave palm branches once again to praise and honor Jesus Christ:

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

(Revelation 7:9, NIV)

On Palm Sunday, the celebration quickly spread throughout the whole city. People even threw down their cloaks on the path where Jesus rode as an act of homage and submission. They recognized Jesus as the promised Messiah from Zechariah 9:9:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (NIV)

Immediately following this great time of celebration in the ministry of Jesus, he began his journey to the cross.

Bible References:

The biblical account of Palm Sunday can be found in Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; and John 12:12-19.

When Is Palm Sunday This Year? Visit the Easter Calendar.

More About Celebrating Easter