April 2023 general conference falls on Palm Sunday weekend, April 1-2.
What is Palm Sunday and what is its significance to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Palm Sunday: Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem
The Sunday before Easter is what the Christian world traditionally calls Palm Sunday. This day commemorates Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem the Sunday before His death.
Before entering Jerusalem for the final time, Jesus asked two of His disciples to bring Him a donkey’s foal, also known as a colt (see Matthew 21:1–7). In fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding the colt (see Zechariah 9:9).
Many people came to greet Jesus and covered His path with palm leaves, flowering branches and cloth. Recognizing Him as their King, they shouted praises such as “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19:38) and “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Matthew 21:9).
What Palm Sunday means to Latter-day Saints
Though many of Jesus’s followers thought He would save them from Roman oppression, He came to earth for a more eternal purpose — to save all humankind from sin and death. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all God’s children “may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (Articles of Faith 1:3).
“As Zechariah and the Psalmist prophetically foretold, our Lord entered Jerusalem riding a colt as multitudes knowingly cried, ‘Hosanna in the highest’ (Matthew 21:9). Hosanna means ‘save now,’” Elder Gong said. He noted that from Old Testament times, the waving of palm branches accompanied the chanting of “Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord” (see Bible Dictionary, “Hosanna,” and Psalm 118:25).
One week following Palm Sunday is Easter Sunday. “At Easter, we sing hallelujah. Hallelujah means ‘praise ye the Lord Jehovah,’” Elder Gong said, citing the Bible Dictionary, “Hallelujah.”
Elder Gong further explained: “The sacred events between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday are the story of hosanna and hallelujah. Hosanna is our plea for God to save. Hallelujah expresses our praise to the Lord for the hope of salvation and exaltation. In hosanna and hallelujah we recognize the living Jesus Christ as the heart of Easter and latter-day restoration.”
In a general conference talk on Palm Sunday in 2009, then-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency said: “It is fitting that during the week from Palm Sunday to Easter morning we turn our thoughts to Jesus Christ, the source of light, life and love. The multitudes in Jerusalem may have seen Him as a great king who would give them freedom from political oppression. But in reality He gave much more than that. He gave us His gospel, a pearl beyond price, the grand key of knowledge that, once understood and applied, unlocks a life of happiness, peace and fulfillment. …
“Let us remember on this Palm Sunday, during this Easter season, and always that the restored gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has the power to fill any emptiness, heal any wound, and bridge any vale of sorrow. It is the way of hope, faith, and trust in the Lord.”
President Nelson’s Palm Sunday invitation
On Palm Sunday 2021, President Russell M. Nelson released a video message inviting all to feel “the peace and hope of Easter” by focusing on the Savior. Amid the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Prophet testified that real peace is found in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
“I invite you to make this coming week truly holy by remembering — not just the palms that were waved to honor the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem — but by remembering the palms of His hands,” President Nelson said.
He quoted the Savior’s promise in Isaiah 49:16: “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands” — a promise, President Nelson said, that Jesus Christ “will never forget you.”
“After all that Jesus Christ did for you, I invite you to do something this week to follow His teachings,” he continued. “You might make your prayers more earnest. You could forgive someone or help a friend in need. You can start today on a new spiritual quest.”
President Nelson concluded with his testimony of the living Christ: “As our resurrected and atoning Savior, He stands ready to help us grow from the dramatic, unexpected events in our lives. And this Easter season, let us worship and praise Him for the peace, hope, light and truth He brings to us.”
Learn more about Palm Sunday
Study the New Testament accounts of the Lord’s triumphal entry:
Grow your relationship with Jesus Christ during Holy Week with this resource on ComeUntoChrist.org.