Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem, 2012
Today we celebrate the event recorded in the Gospels as the Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem. Our Lord Jesus Christ's mission was coming to an end, and the Lord rode into Jerusalem on a donkey in order to complete His last act: the redemption of the human race through His suffering on the cross.
This event is closely connect to the raising of Lazarus. The Lord worked many miracles: he raised the son of the widow of Nain and the daughter of Jairus; but the resurrection of Lazarus was a special miracle, for Lazarus had been dead for four days and had started to decompose. Therefore his resurrection attests to Christ's divinity and to the coming universal resurrection, as is indicated in the troparion of today's feast. This miracle made a powerful impression on people and many believed that He was truly the Messiah.
Therefore many—both those following Him on the donkey and those welcoming Him—greeted Him with green branches in hand. Green branches are a symbol of life. The met Him as a Conqueror. Of what? They did not know.
The people's hope was an earthly kingdom: deliverance from the Romans. Christ's disciples were of this opinion, and therefore often argued about whom among them had seniority.
The Scribes and the Pharisees also had thought about the Kingdom: ideal and just and ruled by the Messiah, with their help, of course.
But the Lord came to found a spiritual, Heavenly Kingdom; one not of this world—the path to which lay through His Passions on the Cross. In His parables the Lord showed who could enter the Heavenly Kingdom. For example, in the parable of the two sons, one of the sons promised his father to come work in his vineyard but didn't. The other denied his father his help but later, having repented, came back and did his father's bidding. And the parables of the wedding feast, the ten virgins, the talents...
As He approached the city, seeing it he wept for it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation (Luke 19: 41-11).
The people were waiting for something special, but nothing happened to prove that their hopes would be fulfilled. There was a sense of disappointment in the masses, and the enthusiastic cries of “Hosanna!” would in four days' time would give way to shouts of “crucify Him!”
The Lord went to voluntary suffering in order to vanquish the devil, sin, and death. And we, “like the children bearing the symbols of victory,”1 having taken up our cross, and ministering unto the Lord, and thereby gaining inner triumph over sin, even now experience the Resurrection in our souls, as an assurance of the future victory. Amen.
1 Troparion, Tone One, Lazarus Saturday/Palm Sunday