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The Lord’s Entry into Jerusalem

The Kingdom not of This World

The Lord’s entry into Jerusalim

“I will climb the palm tree, I will take hold of its branches…”
(c.f. Song of Solomon 7:8)

“Sing praises, O people of Zion, and offer prayers to Christ in Jerusalem. For He Himself comes in glory and power, in whom the Church is established, crying out: Hosanna, blessed is He who comes.”
(Troparion of the 3rd Ode of the Canon of the Lord’s Entry into Jerusalem)

A mere six days of earthly life remained for the Lord Jesus Christ before He would drink the bitter cup for our salvation. The hour of His sacrificial offering, the path to His glory, drew near. To make the people see their salvation through the suffering He would endure on the cross, the Son of God, the Son of Man, unveiled Himself as the long-awaited Messiah. He was the one prophesied to Israel for millennia: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).

Saint Methodius of Patara writes, “The good and faithful Shepherd comes to lay down His life for His sheep. He comes not as God confronting the devil with overwhelming power, a sight no eye can bear, but in humble flesh, to bind the strongman. He comes as a King conquering the tormentor, not with the might of the Almighty, but with wisdom, with the seeming madness of the cross, to snatch the prey from the cunning serpent.”

The King of Glory enters His city with no fanfare. One morning, the Lord Jesus Christ, accompanied by His disciples as always, sets out for Jerusalem. The day before, He had performed a miraculous feat — raising His friend Lazarus from the dead in Bethany. Yet, no one ponders His enthronement. Suddenly, in a blink, the ancient prophecy comes to pass. At the foot of the Mount of Olives, the Saviour instructs two disciples to fetch an unbroken colt. If questioned by the owner, they are to simply say, “The Lord has need of it” — and the animal will be released without hesitation. Even in this seemingly trivial detail, the Son of God begins to reveal His divine glory.

Lord Jesus Christ’s journey from Bethany to Jerusalem

Lord Jesus Christ’s journey from Bethany to Jerusalem

“With the Teacher mounted, the interrupted procession resumes its course. Now, the great Prophet is no longer hidden among the throngs, more visible to all. Despite its simplicity, the procession already carries a sense of solemnity and sacredness. In ancient times, animals that had not yet borne a yoke were chosen for sacred purposes. Notably, the donkey has long symbolized peace in the East, unused in warfare or battles,” reflects Saint Innocent, Archbishop of Kherson.

News of the Galilean Prophet’s journey to Jerusalem spread quickly. Everyone rushed to greet the miracle worker, the one who raised Lazarus from the dead. A wave of jubilation swept through the crowd. Many carpeted the road with their cloaks, while others eagerly cut branches to strew before the Lord Jesus Christ. The familiar verses of Psalm 118 echoed on countless lips, even those of children: “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord!”

orthodox music

The Lord’s entry into the capital mirrored the processions of earthly kings, a spectacle that resonated with the people and fueled their excitement. “Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9) — their voices thundered as the procession reached the crest of the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem sprawling before them like an open palm.

View of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

View of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

Yet, amid the exultant throng, only the Lord Jesus Christ remained sombre. As He drew near the city and gazed upon it, tears streamed down His face, and He lamented, “If you had only known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:41-44).

He was the prophesied Messiah, the long-awaited Saviour sent by God. But the kingdom He offered was unlike any they had envisioned. It was an eternal kingdom, entered through faith and love, not by force, a kingdom where one dwells not as a slave but as a beloved child. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).

The people of Israel craved an earthly king, a political leader who would topple the Roman yoke and shower them with earthly blessings. They anticipated that through Christ, everything would be transformed — the pagan oppressors vanquished, and Israel exalted for its unwavering devotion to the One True God. However, the Messiah came for all — Jews and Gentiles alike — offering the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life, not a temporal one. His blessings are not of this world but of the heavenly realm. He delivers His people not from external subjugation but from the grip of their sins.

This was the source of the Lord Jesus Christ’s grief as He heard the jubilant cries of “Hosanna!” The people did not grasp the true nature of the peace He offered.

Palm Sunday in Jerusalem

Palm Sunday in Jerusalem

The Lord Jesus Christ had no interest in an earthly throne or pandering to the whims of the crowd. His path was one of miraculous and unfathomable divine love — not the path of an earthly king but of a Heavenly one. It was a path leading to the cross and the glorious Resurrection. By rejecting an earthly kingdom, the Saviour declared that His dominion transcended this world; it was something entirely different. The apostles and disciples would only fully comprehend this truth after Golgotha, after the Lord’s glorious return from the dead. Through His Resurrection, He conquered the ultimate ruler of this world — death, which had held all earthly powers in its thrall. Death has no power within Christ’s Kingdom. All who enter the Kingdom of Heaven gain this most coveted freedom, a freedom unattainable in any earthly realm — freedom from death itself.

The Resurrection of Christ is truly His Enthronement that unveils the true nature of His Kingdom. Here, death is vanquished, replaced by boundless life everlasting. We are all called to become citizens of this blessed Kingdom of God. Our earthly existence is a pilgrimage, a journey with the Heavenly Jerusalem as our final destination. The Lord Jesus Christ, through His sacrifice on the Cross and glorious Resurrection, unlocked the gates of this celestial city for us all.

“Blessed are You, sung on high by the celestial Seraphim, receiving praise from innocent babes. Blessed are You, carried aloft by the Cherubim, and cherished within the hearts of the pure. Blessed are You, whom countless thousands serve in the heavens, and countless myriads stand before You. Blessed are You, whom throngs of children extol on earth, and countless peoples greet with joy. Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

(Kontakion 8 of the Akathist Hymn to the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem)

This article was prepared by the editorial team of obitel-minsk.ru. Photos were sourced from the internet.

Sources:

1. St. Innocent, Archbishop of Chersonese and Taurica. The Last Days of the Earthly Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ. — Moscow: Orthodox Pilgrim, 2009.

2. Feasts of the Orthodox Church / [compiled by E.V. Trostnikova]. — Moscow: Eksmo, 2009.

3. Palm Sunday. History and Traditions of the Festival (ruvera.ru)

4. The Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem / Orthodoxy.Ru (pravoslavie.ru)

5. https://mpda.ru/publications/gimn-osanna-kak-put-k-voskreseniju/

April 28, 2024
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Nina

Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!
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