There is a great deal of symbolism connected with Palm Sunday. For instance, do you know why Jesus chose a donkey to ride into Jerusalem? I decided to research this, and discovered first of all that it fulfills the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9, "See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey", thus declaring He was the King of Israel to the anger of the Sanhedrin. And the fact that He rode on a donkey may be associated with the Eastern tradition that it is an animal of peace, versus the horse, which is the animal of war. A king would have ridden a horse when he was bent on war and ridden a donkey to symbolize his arrival in peace. Jesus' entry to Jerusalem would have thus symbolized his entry as the Prince of Peace, not as a war-waging king.
What about the palm branches? They are a symbol of rejoicing in Leviticus 23:40, but did you know they are also mentioned in Revelation 7:9-10 which reads, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." And so the worship of Christ as He entered Jerusalem on that day, mirrors the worship of Christ in heaven after His ascension where He is now seated on His heavenly throne.
And almost all Christians are familiar with the word, “Hosanna”, but how many know what it really means? I looked online on a site called ‘gotquestions.org’ and found this exact question had been asked there, and this was the answer:
“Hosanna is a word used in some songs of praise, particularly on Palm Sunday. It is of Hebrew origin and was part of the shout of the multitudes as Jesus entered Jerusalem: “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).
Hosanna is often thought of as a declaration of praise, similar to hallelujah, but it is actually a plea for salvation. The Hebrew root words are found in Psalm 118:25, which says, “Save us, we pray, O LORD!” (ESV). The Hebrew words yasha (“deliver, save”) and anna (“beg, beseech”) combine to form the word that, in English, is “hosanna.” Literally, hosanna means “I beg you to save!” or “please deliver us!”
So, as Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem, the crowds were perfectly right to shout “Hosanna!” They were acknowledging Jesus as their Messiah, as shown in their address “Son of David.” Theirs was a cry for salvation and a recognition that Jesus is able to save.
Later that day, Jesus was in the temple, and the children present were again shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:15). The chief priests and the teachers of the Law were displeased: “‘Do you hear what these children are saying?’ they asked him. ‘Yes,’ replied Jesus, ‘have you never read, “From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise”’?” (Matthew 21:16). In saying, “Hosanna!” the people were crying out for salvation, and that’s exactly why Jesus had come. Within a week Jesus would be hanging on a cross.”
But this wasn’t the kind of salvation that the Jews were looking for. They wanted to be out from under Roman tyranny, not out from under the weight of their sins. They were looking for an earthly salvation when Jesus had come to provide eternal salvation.
But what is more important? Jesus could have easily destroyed every last Roman soldier. With just a word, He could wipe every enemy of the Jews, and Christians, off the face of the earth, in times past, present, and future. But what would that accomplish? In times of peace and prosperity, most of God’s people quickly forget Him. They start putting their faith in their wealth, or their country, or whatever it is that makes them feel secure. While it might make their days on earth a bit more enjoyable, it would make their eternal future a whole lot bleaker! So instead, Jesus came to save us, not with a word, but as the Living Word (John 1:14), to ransom us in the only way that would secure heaven for us - and that is with his own excruciating pain, suffering, and death.
Yet this was not what His people were looking for. And so how quickly they turned on their Savior! How quickly they were willing to offer Him up to Pontius Pilate, and have him release a robber named Barabbas instead (John 18:40)! We might be just as quick to accuse and wonder how they could have done this, but how often have we turned on someone when we didn’t get exactly want we wanted from them? And how quickly do we get mad at God when He doesn’t answer our prayers in the way we want them answered? If we are truthful, every one of us has been guilty of this.
So as we enter Holy Week, let us all repent and come to Jesus with humble hearts, rejoicing that He came, not yet to set up His earthly Kingdom, but to save us from our sins so we might spend eternity with Him. Let us remember how Jesus’ triumphant entry on Palm Sunday was only 5 days before His crucifixion on Good Friday, followed by His glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday. Let us remember how He did all of this for those who would put their faith in Him for their salvation. And let us also remember, that the day is coming when He will return, to do what the Jews wanted Him to do the first time. All good things come to those who believe, but in God’s timing, not ours. And when that day does come, I pray you will be part of the chorus that sings eternal praises to Christ our King! Amen.