Musings on Palm Sunday
This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, generally celebrated by the Christian world as the day Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem as described in Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, and John 12. This was also just a few days before He was crucified.
When Jesus entered the city, many came and shouted, “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord!” They took branches of palm trees (hence the name Palm Sunday) and laid them before Him to create a “red carpet” of sorts for the King. It’s amazing how just a few days later many of the Jews, not all and probably not many (if any) of those celebrating here, were found chanting, “Crucify him!” to the Jewish leadership and Pilate.
Let’s go back to the celebrating of His entry. It’s ironic how the people acted considering what day it was near. Just a few decades earlier, no one was celebrating. As a matter of fact, it was a very, very humble beginning for a king. Palm Sunday was within a few days of Jesus’ birthday, possibly even the same day.
“Wait a minute,” you might be saying. “How is Jesus’ birthday in March, or even April, depending on the year? I thought it was in December.” Well, the statement that His birthday was a week before Easter can be found by using the Word, a little history, and a little astronomy. According to scriptures and history, Israel fashioned the months according to the phases of the moon in a lunar calendar. Unlike our present-day calendar, which uses the number of days the Earth takes to circumnavigate the sun, the lunar calendar considers a year as 12 lunar cycles. This is the reason why Passover is at different times every year.
According to the New Testament, Jesus and the apostles were celebrating Passover when the Last Supper took place. Therefore, Christ’s death and resurrection were a few days later — His resurrection on Sunday since that was the first day of the week on the Jewish calendar, preceded by his death three days earlier.
So how can we figure He entered Jerusalem on or within a few days of His birthday? The answer lies in the Book of Mormon. In 3 Nephi, the people started counting their years from the sign of Christ’s birth, with that day being their New Year’s. According to 3 Nephi 8:5, the sign of His death was given. The verse states in part, “And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month…” So, using both books, we can draw the conclusion that Christ entered Jerusalem almost 33 years to the day (give or take a few) after He was born. Pretty neat, no?
This is meant as a fun conversation topic. Regardless of the when and how, the bottom line is this: Christ came, showed us how to live, took upon Himself our sins, took them to the grave, and rose again so that we might live eternally with Him if we choose to serve Him.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.