Palm Sunday 2024

Palm Sunday begs to be called out, to be distinguished from just any other first day of the week. It launches the period known by Christians the world over as Holy Week. Palm Sunday sets an expectant, celebratory tone, one that contrasts, shockingly and painfully, with the shattering disappointment of the terrible day we call Good Friday. In between falls the oddness of Maundy Thursday. So much is packed into the events of these seven days, which lead up to the triumphant culmination of Easter. Indeed, without Easter, the story of new life, hope and possibility would have been one of failure, death and despair. I’ve written about the days of Holy Week several times before. Below is my Palm Sunday post from April 1, 2012. 


On the day that we’ve come to think of as Palm Sunday, Jesus was hailed as a celebrity, a military and political hero-to-be.  As he and his disciples entered  the city of Jerusalem, cheering crowds greeted him with cries of “Hosanna,” which means “Save us.” The news was out: at long last, the King of Israel was here.  He was the chosen one sent by God to restore power to the Jewish nation.  He rode on a donkey to fulfill the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9:  See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey.


It was a time of great rejoicing for the people of Israel.  A new day of freedom and empowerment was dawning, thanks to the advent of the conquering Messiah.  The palm branches they waved were emblems of Israeli nationalism.

In just a few days, though, the tide would turn. The admiring throngs would scatter when it became clear that Jesus was not the kind of king they had desired and expected.  Even his dearest friends would desert him.  He would be betrayed by one of his own, turned over to the Roman authorities and crucified. On Good Friday, it would appear that this man was no winner.


Good Friday, however, is not the end of the story.