Palm Sunday: Betrayal and Beliefs
By Luke Luedy
In the coming weeks until Easter, it’s easy to generate an idea of what it’s about. An idea bolstered by retail stores and advertisements.
The most obvious message is of Jesus Christ’s resurrection after his crucifixion. Or it could be something non-religious, like bunnies or eggs.
But there is a tenet of Easter that society as a whole glosses over: Palm Sunday.
Palm Sunday, like Easter, is a holiday with roots in the Christian faith, though its religious aspects are more pronounced than Easter. It occurs one week before Easter Sunday. This year, it occurred on April 2nd. As explained shortly, it plays a crucial part in leading to the religious stories commonly associated with Easter.
But if Palm Sunday is such a relevant aspect of Easter, why isn’t it more prominent? And if general society seems to prioritize Easter over it, does that mean it’s even that important?
To answer both of those questions, here are some explanations on the event’s representation in the Bible, its symbolism, and importance.
Palm Sunday in the Bible
The exact depiction of Palm Sunday can be found in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Though the descriptions of the event are slightly different within each gospel, they generally follow the same pattern.
Jesus arrived riding on a donkey in Jerusalem to much acclaim of the city. John 12:13 states that a crowd “Took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna!”” Matthew 21:1-11 showcases a similar occurrence, though instead of waving palms to Christ, they placed them on the ground for him to tread over.
Symbolism of Palms
Though they may seem like a mere plant, palms actually hold much symbolism, both in religious and early A.D cultures.
For starters, palms were often used in victorious celebrations. Specifically, the leaves were often used in Ancient Greek sporting competitions. Petal Republic, a website pertaining to information about flowers and plants, states that athletes were given palm branches as a sign of their athletic achievements.
Additionally, palm trees were also associated with peace. In Ancient Rome, victorious generals often dressed in togas strewn with palm leaves. As that general would officially end the war or skirmish their army was involved in, palms became linked to peace.
That last symbol is especially relevant to Christ. He arrived in Jerusalem not as a harbinger of war or conqueror of enemies, but as a symbol of hope and triumph. The title “Prince of Peace” seems apt to Christ considering the peaceful symbolism behind palm trees.
However, this triumphant and welcoming reception would not last long for Christ. For in the Gospel of Mark, just after the aforementioned Gospel of Matthew, Christ was crucified.
The crowd that had welcomed him with open arms, palm leaves waving in hand, had betrayed him.
Perhaps that is why, generally speaking, Palm Sunday is less recognized in general society than the holiday a week from it. It showcases the all too human side of us, to give in to our base desires and follow the crowd.
Regardless, though Palm Sunday may undertake a more somber tone due to Christ’s subsequent crucifixion, its message still holds importance, for those religious or non-religious.
Staying true to one’s ideals and beliefs is crucial, especially in a society becoming increasingly turbulent and fractured.
The crowd of people that soon devolved into an angry mob demanding Christ’s death shows this. They willingly threw away all their previous notions of peace and tranquility in favor of violence. And some of those individuals most likely went along with the group in order to fit in.
Likewise, we ourselves must never lose sight of our true selves, of what we believe in. It’s easy to do things or say things in order to fit in with others, whether done consciously or not.
All of us must remain firm in our beliefs. Whether that be our love for our family and friends, or importance in community, they must not be broken.
Hopelessness is undoubtedly on the rise in today’s age, but that does not mean we should give up on ourselves or others. We, as a collective society, can conquer this dread through staying true to ourselves. We must hold firm in spite of opposition others might bring towards us. It might sound trite, but we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel if our eyes are closed in fear.
To sum everything up, it may be simple to give in to what the world wants you to be. But if we want to get through whatever life throws our way, we should do it as ourselves, not as a hollow crowd follower.