Holy Week History: What is Palm Sunday

By Jessica Wolstenholm


What is Holy Week?

Holy Week is the final week in the season of Lent, and the week leading up to Easter Sunday. During this week, Christians remember the important events of Christ’s final days, his death and resurrection. Revisiting these events is more than a history lesson. It gives us a greater understanding about what Jesus did for us on the cross.

What is Palm Sunday?

The first Sunday of Holy Week is Palm Sunday, which remembers Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. Jesus fulfills the prophecy from Zechariah when he says in Matthew 21:5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'”

As Jesus enters Jerusalem, the crowds of people lay down their coats and palm branches on the ground as he passes. They waved the palm branches in the air saying, “Hosana! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:13) Palm branches were used in the ancient world as symbol of victory and peace. The act of laying down palm branches recognizes that Jesus is king, a king who will bring them peace.

Christians use palm branches on Palm Sunday to remember this event and its importance in Christ’s life, but also to acknowledge that Christ’s kingship was fulfilled by his death and resurrection. We celebrate this day with heavy hearts, knowing that Jesus is ultimately going to meet his death on our behalf. Although, he is welcomed as king he will later be crucified as a criminal. Jesus had to go to his death on the cross so that we could call him “King” for eternity. We also celebrate with hope, knowing that Jesus was victorious over sin and death when he rose from the dead on Easter.


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Read about all the days of Holy Week in this series:

What is Holy Week? 

Holy Week History: What is Palm Sunday?

Holy Week History: What is Maundy Thursday?

Holy Week History: What is Good Friday?

Holy Week History: What is Easter Sunday?