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39. The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.

Soon after the raising of Lazarus, six days before the Jewish Passover, Jesus Christ made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem to show that He was the true Christ the King and was going to death voluntarily.

When they drew near to Jerusalem, coming to the village of Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus Christ sent two of His disciples saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you; and immediately, you will find a donkey tied and a colt with her on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it to me. If any one says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs it’."

The disciples went away and found it as He had told them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put their garments on the colt, and Jesus sat on it.

In the meantime in Jerusalem, they learned that Jesus, the One Who raised Lazarus from the dead after four days, was coming to Jerusalem. Crowds of people, gathered from everywhere for the feast of the Passover, went to meet Him. Many took off their outer garments and spread them on the road before Him. Others cut palm branches, carried them in their hands and spread them on the road. And all the people, who went before and who followed, cried out with joy, "Hosanna (Salvation) to the Son of David! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord;" — that is, worthy of praise is the One Who comes in the name of the Lord, sent from God. "King of Israel! Hosanna in the highest!"

When He drew near to Jerusalem, the Saviour looked upon it with sorrow. He knew that the people would reject Him, their Saviour, and that Jerusalem would be destroyed. Jesus Christ wept over it and said, "If you have known, even you, at least in this day, the things which belong unto your peace! but now they are hid from your eyes;" — that is, you stubbornly close your eyes to all of God’s favour bestowed on you. "For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will cast up a bank about you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and dash you to the ground, you and your children with you, and they will not leave one stone upon another because you did not know (did not want to acknowledge) the time of your visitation (the time when the Lord visited you)."

When Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem, the entire city was stirred, saying, "Who is this?"

The crowds answered, "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee," and told them about how He had called Lazarus forth from the tomb and raised him from the dead.

Jesus entered the Temple and again, as in the first year of His teaching, drove out all who sold and bought in the Temple, saying to them "It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers."

The blinds and the lames came to Him in the Temple, and He healed them. The people, seeing the wonderful things Jesus Christ did, began to praise Him even more. Even little children being in the Temple cried out, "Hosanna to the Son of David."

The chief priests and the scribes were indignant and they said to Him, "Do you hear what they are saying?"

Jesus Christ said to them, "Yes, have you never read: ‘Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast Thou perfected praise’?" (Ps. 8:3). Jesus Christ taught daily in the Temple; and when evening came, He went out of the city. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people sought an opportunity to destroy Him, but they could not, for all the people were very anxious to hear Him.

Note: See the Gospels of Matthew 21:1-17; Mark 11:1-19, Luke 19:29-48; John 12:12-19.

The triumphant Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem is celebrated by the Holy Orthodox Church on the last Sunday before the bright feast of Pascha. This is one of the great feasts, and it is also called Palm Sunday because on this feast during the All-night Vigil service, or at Matins, blessed branches of palms, pussy willows, or other early spring growth are distributed to the faithful. In ancient times, the king was met with green branches when he was returning in triumph after victory over his enemies. And we holding in our hands the branches of the first blossoms of spring glorify the Saviour as the Victor over death because He raised the dead and on this very day entered Jerusalem to die for our sins and to rise again thereby saving us from eternal death and eternal torment. The branches serve for us then as a symbol of the victory of Christ over death and should remind us of the future resurrection of all of us from death.

Troparion of the Feast.

In confirming the common Resurrection, O Christ God, Thou didst raise up Lazarus from the dead before Thy passion. Wherefore, we also, like the children bearing the symbols of victory, cry to Thee, the vanquisher of death: Hosanna in the highest; blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.

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