As we travel onward, the Feast Day of the Entrance of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, into Jerusalem is upon us. The Western Churches are currently into Holy Week, making their way to Easter or Pascha. Meanwhile, in the Eastern Churches, we await the entrance of our Lord, this upcoming Sunday, as the day when our Lord enters Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, and the townspeople all greet Him, with palms, singing, “Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest”.
Palm Sunday depicts not only our Lord’s Great Entrance into Jerusalem, but also in His glory of raising Lazarus from the dead. The people in the town of Jerusalem all anticipated the coming of Jesus, and heard of the great miracle, that all came to greet the Lord, welcoming Him, with shouts of elation and praise. On this day, Christians likewise, accept and venerate Jesus, adorning Him as our Lord and King.
The story of Palm Sunday can be found in all of the four Gospels (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-38; and John 12:12-18). It was five days prior to the Passover when Jesus traveled from Bethany to Jerusalem. Jesus asked His disciples to bring him a young donkey, in which our Lord Jesus sat upon, as He entered into the city of Jerusalem.
Great throngs were gathered, in Jerusalem for the Passover, but also to seek the Lord Jesus. The people had all heard of His great deeds, teachings, and the raising of Lazarus. Upon the entrance of our Lord Jesus into the city, there people greeted Him with palm branches, laying their clothing down before Him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he that comes in the Name of the Lord, the King of Israel!”
The Feast Day of Palm Sunday allows us to behold our Lord and King: the conqueror of death and the giver of life. It is a day to commemorate our Lord as the ultimate King, Word of God, who was made flesh. Jesus comes not only on the back of the donkey, but as the One Who rids us of our bondages of sin and frees of our infirmities. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the Kings of Kings, and Lord of all of humanity. He comes to forgive us, dwell within our very hearts, and claim us as His own.
Theophan the Recluse wrote the following words about the inward rule of Christ the King: “The Kingdom of God is within us when God reigns in us, when the soul in its depths confesses God as its Master, and is obedient to Him in all its powers. Then God acts within it as master ‘both to will and to do of his good pleasure’ (Philippians 2:13). This reign begins as soon as we resolve to serve God in our Lord Jesus Christ, by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Then the Christian hands over to God his consciousness and freedom, which comprises the essential substance of our human life, and God accepts the sacrifice; and in this way the alliance of man with God and God with man is achieved, and the covenant with God, which was severed by the Fall and continues to be severed by our willful sins, is re-established.”
“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world knew Him not. He came to His own home, and His own people received Him not” (John 1:10-11). We must remember how our Lord first comes into Jerusalem, where the people all were joyful, welcoming Him and praising Him. Then, remember how the story progresses, as we journey through Holy Week, thereafter. The very people, who joyfully greeted our Lord, and praised Him, also condemned Him, hated Him, and had Him scourged, and put to death.
Palm Sunday allows us to acknowledge our King – the Suffering Lamb and Final Sacrifice. “The Son and Word of the Father, like Him without beginning and eternal, has come today to the city of Jerusalem, seated on a dumb beast, on a foal. From fear the cherubim dare not gaze upon Him; yet the children honor Him with palms and branches, and mystically they sing a hymn of praise: ‘Hosanna in the highest, Hosanna to the Son of David, who has come to save from error all mankind.’” (A hymn of the Light.)
“With our souls cleansed and in spirit carrying branches, with faith let us sing Christ’s praises like the children, crying with a loud voice to the Master: Blessed art Thou, O Savior, who hast come into the world to save Adam from the ancient curse; and in Thy love for mankind Thou hast been pleased to become spiritually the new Adam. O Word, who hast ordered all things for our good, glory to Thee.” (A Sessional hymn of the Orthros)