What is Palm Sunday? Bible Story and Meaning Today

Updated Mar 22, 2024
What is Palm Sunday? Bible Story and Meaning Today

Palm Sunday: Jesus' Triumphal Entry to Jerusalem

Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian churches all celebrate Palm Sunday, which is the beginning of Holy Week, the most hallowed time of year for Christians. (The Orthodox Christian Church follows the Julian calendar and typically celebrates later than Catholic and Protestant communities.) 

Palm Sunday commemorates when Jesus entered Jerusalem and was greeted by people waving palm branches. This event serves as a reminder for Christians to welcome Jesus into their hearts and be ready to follow Him. The Palm Sunday service also includes a reading of the Passion, which narrates the story of Jesus' suffering and crucifixion.

Palm Sunday is a Christian holiday that occurs on the Sunday before Easter. This celebration celebrates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, mentioned in each of the four Gospels. Jesus entered the city knowing He would be tried and crucified and welcomed His fate to rise from the grave and save us from sin! Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, the remembrance of Jesus' last days.

In many churches, Palm Sunday is observed with the blessing and sharing of palm branches, symbolizing the branches placed in front of Christ as he entered Jerusalem.

Let us praise God for sending His Son to earth, Jesus' sacrifice for our sins, and our eternal life in Christ through faith.

Read the Bible passage of Jesus' entry to Jerusalem and learn Palm Sunday's history, tradition, and modern customs.

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palm sunday, palm sunday in the bible

Palm Sunday in the Bible

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King - The Triumphal Entry 

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will send them at once." This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, "Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'" 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks 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 were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, "Who is this?" And the crowds said, "This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee." - Matthew 21:1-11

The Old Testament prophecied Palm Sunday in Zechariah 9:9 - "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."

Read more Palm Sunday Scriptures, including the retold accounts in the gospels of Mark, Luke, and John.

Palm Sunday in 2024

This year, Palm Sunday will be on March 24th, 2024. This begins Holy Week, leading to Easter on March 31st, 2024.

See the timeline and meaning of Holy Week: When Is Holy Week in 2024? Holiday Dates for Easter and More

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palm sunday church service observances

Palm Sunday Celebration and Traditions

Palm Sunday began in the Jerusalem Church approximately the late third century. Observances consisted of hymns, prayers, and Bible readings as people traveled through the many holy places within the city. At the final place, the site of Jesus’ ascent into heaven, the ministry would recite the biblical passage of Jesus’ victorious entrance into Jerusalem. Then as dusk neared, the people would return to the city declaring: “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9). 

This tradition continued until the sixth and seventh centuries when the ceremonial blessing of the palms was included. By the eighth century, a morning procession substituted the evening one and the Western Church was celebrating what we now know as “Palm Sunday.”

Meaning of Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter that begins the Holy Week. It is the day that we remember and celebrate the day Jesus entered Jerusalem as Savior and King. As Jesus rode a donkey into the town of Jerusalem a large crowd gathered and laid palm branches and their cloaks across the road, giving Jesus royal treatment. The hundreds of people shouted "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!" 

Debbie McDaniel wrote about the significance of Palm Sunday,

"On the heels of Palm Sunday, as we begin this Holy Week, may we constantly be reminded of its significance and value for our lives today. That very important day in history, when Jesus began His journey towards the cross.

Yet maybe in the midst of busy lives, on the heels of Spring Break, or in all of the upcoming thoughts about Easter, the real meaning of it may, even unintentionally, get missed.

His Word reveals such great truths in every part of this story. Truths that draw us closer towards Christ, reminding us that He alone is King."

Read more: 5 Things about Palm Sunday That Remind Us Christ Is King

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hosanna in the highest palm sunday bible verses

Bible Verses About Palm Sunday

"The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the king of Israel!" Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: "Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt." 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. 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.  Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!" - John 12:12-19

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey". - Zechariah 9:9

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. - Mark 16:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." - John 3:16-17

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." - John 3:3 

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish." - Psalm 1:1-6

Get your FREE 8-Day Prayer and Scripture Guide - Praying Through the Holy Week HERE. Print your own copy for a beautiful daily devotional leading up to Easter.

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Quotes About Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is like a glimpse of Easter. It’s a little bit joyful after being somber during Lent.” - Laura Gale

“Palm Sunday's thought; Life is full of ups and downs. Glorify God during the ups and fully trust in Him during the downs.” - Anonymous

“Lord, we lift up your name. With hearts full of praise; Be exalted, O Lord my God! Hosanna in the highest!” - Carl Tuttle

“Have a blessed Palm Sunday. Remember a week before he was crucified like a criminal, he rode into the city a king.” - Anonymous

"Alleluia, how the people cheer And palm leaves rustle as the king draws near." - John Beavis

RELATED PODCAST: Join Pastor John Stange as he explains what can bring you peace with his Palm Sunday sermon! 

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