What does Palm Sunday mean to American Christians?

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Many Christians in America mark the beginning of Holy Week with the triumphal visit to Jerusalem by Jesus Christ. That event is called Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday is all about the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. 

Christianity tells of Palm Sunday through assembled worshipers carrying palms that represented what the crowd had scattered in front of Jesus as he approached Jerusalem. The drawback of using palms in today’s ceremonies was that it was next to impossible to obtain during times of unfavorable weather climates. This led to many substitutions including the box, yew, willow, and olive. Thus, Palm Sunday was also referred to the names of the trees used such as Yew Sunday and Branch Sunday.

Palm Sunday, in other Episcopal, Anglican, and Lutheran churches is known as “The Sunday of Passion: Palm Sunday.”In a lot of Protestant churches, the kids are given palms and are told to walk in procession around the inside of the church while the adults remain seated.

Biblical basis and significance:

According to the Gospels, Jesus’s return to Jerusalem occurred approximately one week before his Resurrection.

In Zechariah 9:9 of the King James Version of the Holy Bible, we read: “Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion; shout O daughter of Jerusalem: behold thy King cometh unto thee: his is just and having salvation; lowly and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass.” Jesus declared himself King over all of Israel and this made Sanhedrin extremely angry.

In the accounts of the Gospels, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on an ass, and the people celebrated at the sight of Him by laying down their cloaks and small branches of trees in front of Him. The people sang out in honor of this by singing a part of Psalm 118:25-26 “Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.”

The significance of the donkey was that it was an animal of peace. In contrast to a horse which is an animal of war. Kings wanting war would ride in on a horse, but kings wanting peace would come in on a donkey. When Jesus made it into Jerusalem, he symbolized himself as the Prince of Peace, not a God of War.

In Luke 19:41 of the King James Version of the Holy Bible, we read that when Jesus approached Jerusalem, he looked at the city and cried over it. This later symbolized the upcoming suffering and hardships that would plague the city.

The significance of the palm branch was that it symbolized victory or triumph. The Epistle of Paul refers to Jesus return to Jerusalem as triumphant. This branch later became the symbol of the Christian martyrs and their spiritual victory over death.

“In the simplest of terms, Palm Sunday is an occasion for reflecting on the final week of Jesus’ life. It is a time for Christians to prepare their hearts for the agony of His Passion and the joy of His Resurrection.”

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