“On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:12,13).
The Sunday before Easter has long been known as Palm Sunday, in commemoration of the palm branches that were spread on the road as Jesus made His “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem. This was the ancient custom in greeting conquering kings, and the people believed that Jesus, their Messiah, had come to save them from the Romans.
The palm tree of the Bible was the date palm, tall and stately, long-lived and of use in a great variety of ways. There are over 30 references to the palm in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word being tamar, a popular name for girls. Tamar, the wife of Judah, is even named in the genealogy of the foster father of Jesus (note Matthew 1:3).
On the other hand, palms are only mentioned twice in the New Testament. The Greek word is phoinix, from which the nation of Phoenicia, and several ancient cities known as Phenice (Acts 27:12) or Phoenix got their names, as being regions of palm trees.
The first New Testament reference is in our text above, recording how the people prematurely acknowledged Jesus as victorious over their political enemies. The second and final reference, however, is a beautifully appropriate recognition of His ultimate victory over man’s greatest enemies sin and death. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, . . . stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; . . . For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes”