“Palms for the Lord,” Liahona, Apr. 1999, 10
The Sunday before Easter, often called Palm Sunday, is a reminder of Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. As He rode a donkey into the city, crowds scattered palm branches along Jesus’ path. (See Matt. 21:6–11.)
Many people think that palm branches were used because there were so many palm trees in that part of the world, but there were other reasons for choosing them. The palm branch was the emblem of Judea and appeared on the coins of the land, symbolizing one of the country’s riches. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the trees were in bloom, so in covering the way with palm branches, the people were offering a symbol of great value and luxury.
But palms were a symbol of necessity, too. To the Jews, palm branches represented a gift from God because of their many uses in the people’s lives. The palm was so important that when countries in the area went to war, they cut away the enemy’s palm branches, causing their enemy to suffer from the loss of food and other necessities.
This important tree had many different varieties, ranging in height from less than 3 meters to more than 30 meters. The date palm supplied dates, of course. The coconut palm supplied both coconut and coconut milk. The sap of the sugar palm was dried, beaten, and ground into very fine sugar. Its leaves could also be boiled and used as a vegetable. The trunk of the sago palm was ground into flour and made into unleavened bread.
Palm trees had almost no waste parts. Their coarse fiber was used to make brooms, mats, and baskets; their fine fiber was used to make sewing thread; and their heaviest fiber was used to make strong ropes. Palm oils have been made into both butter and soap.
Fine bowls, cooking utensils, even tools were made from coconut shells. Some palm wood does not easily rot and was especially good for making boats.
The seeds of palms were boiled into a medicinal drink or were dried and eaten like nuts. If they were allowed to dry a long time, they became hard and transparent and made durable beads and trinkets.
The palm’s yellowish-white flowers were made into perfume. Women wore the lovely, waxy flowers as decorative headdresses.
Strewing palm branches at Jesus’ feet, then, was a symbol of the giving up of worldly goods, both necessities and luxuries. The people loved and honored Jesus, and they showed their love and honor by lining His path with something very important to them.