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Palm Sunday Symbolism


Churches often celebrate the Sunday before Easter as Palm Sunday, marking the triumphant entry into Jerusalem by the Lord Jesus Christ. It should be noted that most of those who stood along the path adoring him were pilgrims, not regular residents of Jerusalem. That's one of the factors underlying the radical change in attitude from Palm Sunday to Jesus' betrayal, sham trial egged on by angry mobs, and the Crucifixion.


Palm Sunday is full of symbolism that families can use as teaching tools:


n       Palm branches are considered a symbol of victory. That's what people waved at Jesus as he entered Jerusalm (John 12:13). They're pictured in a vision of heaven in John's Revelation at the end of the Bible, with countless saints clothed in white, standing before the Throne of God with palms in their hands, praising Him.


n       The donkey on which Jesus rode into Jerusalem (John 12:14) was prophesied hundreds of years earlier by Zechariah 9:9 as being the conveyance of the Messiah. Usually, you think of a king as riding a horse into battle, but in the Bible, a king bringing peace was depicted as riding a lowly donkey. The donkey was an important animal in Bible times, and symbolized obedience and service.


n       The word "Hosanna," which the people shouted as Jesus came by, is a Greek transliteration, or translation, of the Hebrew meaning, "Save; I beseech thee!" That correlates with the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, too, as in Psalm 118:25.


A fun thing to do on Palm Sunday, if your church distributes individual palm leaves, is to let them dry, and keep them all the way 'til Ash Wednesday next year. Then you can crumble the dried leaves, carefully set fire to them (always with an adult!), let the ashes cool, and mark your own foreheads with these ashes as a symbol of the victory that is to come out of the ashes, like Jesus' resurrection from the dead.



By Susan Darst Williams Heart Lessons 018 2006


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