It was a monumental event for Jerusalem, covered in all four Gospels, as Jesus rode into the city on the day that we now celebrate as Palm Sunday. He came riding in on a young donkey, fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies that the people present shouted as they waved tree branches and laid them down like a path in front of him. Matthew 21 notes that a "very great multitude" participated in the event and "all the city was moved" by it.
In John 12, the author noted that the tree branches were palm fronds. What is the significant of using palm branches?
AmazingBibleTimeline.com notes that it's not certain, but there are a few possible explanations:
1. Creating a path of branches to welcome home a returning king or war hero was common practice.
2. In Roman customs, it was common to honor military and athletic champions with palm branches.
3. It may have been a reference to the Festival of the Booths in Leviticus 23:40-43 where the children of Israel were commanded to rejoice before the Lord with the branches of palms and other leafy trees.
Whatever the true explanation, the multitudes rejoiced Jesus for the King He truly was. Yet they didn't truly understand His mission at that time. In Luke 19:41-44 we see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem and the difficult things that were to come.