Palm Sunday – Entry Into Jerusalem
Glory to God! Today our Lenten journey has brought us to the threshold of Holy Week. Today our Lord Jesus Christ enters into Jerusalem, hailed as the King of Israel. A great multitude of people greet Him with palm branches and cry out: ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
All of Jerusalem turns out to greet their Messiah, an event which had been prophesied and anticipated for many ages. Our Lord had been ministering to the people: teaching, healing, and performing miracles of compassionate love for three years. His fame and the news of His miracles had spread far and wide, and now, with His entry into Jerusalem, the people of Israel were taken up with enthusiasm that their King had arrived and that the time of their triumph would soon be inaugurated.
These people were expecting Christ to reign as an earthly king… that the time was at hand when Israel would overthrow the tyranny of Rome, and Jesus Christ, one of their own, would sit on the throne of Israel as their king. Their reading of the prophecies were earthly and even the disciples of the Lord continued to misunderstand the otherworldly message of Christ.
Imagine how shocked and disillusioned they all must have been when Christ was arrested, mocked and scourged, and paraded through the streets of Jerusalem as a common criminal to then be crucified amid thieves. This was an earth shattering and soul shattering event!
But what was Christ’s message from the very beginning of His earthly ministry? He Who was born in such lowly circumstances in a cave in Bethlehem, Who had not a place to lay His head as He wandered from town to town ministering to the poor and the outcasts. He emphasized over and over again that His Kingdom was not of this world. But the people would not hear it.
And what does this scene say to us… what does it say about us? How often is it the case that we may greet our Lord in great enthusiasm and zeal, welcoming Him to enter into the Jerusalem of our heart? We may experience true joy indeed… emulating the pure-hearted children who lay palm branches down to honor their Messiah.
But what occurs when the will of God conflicts our own will? When our expectations of what we might want to do or what we presume Christ will do for us… what happens when these things do not go our way?
Does our joy turn to anger, to frustration, to disappointment? If God does not meet our expectations, does not fulfill our wishes and our will, do we change our tune and shout ‘crucify Him!’?
May God forbid that we would have such clearly rebellious thoughts… but we should take an honest assessment of our heart and our thoughts and examine what disturbances of soul afflict us when things don’t go our way.
We should not look upon the Gospel narrative of the triumphant entry of Christ and the subsequent betrayals as just an historical account from the life of our Lord. For this sequence of joyful and hopeful encounter with Christ, followed by disappointment, forgetfulness, neglect, and hypocrisy, these are our sins as well.
Let us be faithful to our Lord. Let us be child-like in our trust and faith, turning away from being childish in our selfish pursuits and expectations.
In this coming Great and Holy Week, the Church calls us to follow Christ. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we begin to relive the dramatic events in Jerusalem of this Week. On Thursday morning we come to the celebration of Christ’s final Passover Meal, when He instituted the Mystical Supper of His Body and Blood. On Thursday evening we have the beautiful Service of the Twelve Gospels when the Church tell us all the details of Christ's betrayal, of Judas, of Christ's trial, of Pilate, of Christ's scourging and Crucifixion. On Friday afternoon the burial shroud of Christ is brought out for veneration and on Friday evening we chant the Lamentations around His Tomb and make our solemn burial procession. On Saturday morning, we shall hear the prophecies foretelling the great event of the Resurrection and witness the changing of vestments into white and then on Saturday at midnight Christ will shine forth in His Resurrection.
Let us be with Him this week. Come to as many of the services as you can… but most importantly, wherever you may be, be with Christ in your heart and mind… witnessing this week all the events which lead up to His sufferings, His death and burial. And, having suffered through these things with Him this week, let us come with joy and gratitude and awe to behold His glorious Resurrection!