On the day following the resurrection of Lazarus, and six days before the Jewish Passover, the Lord Jesus Christ made a triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, in order to show that He was truly a King, and that He was going to His death voluntarily. There was a great deal of bustle and agitation among the Jews when Christ entered the capital. Millions of people annually came to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and the city already overflowed with people when the ceremonious welcome of the long-awaited Messiah took place. Moreover, news of the extraordinary resurrection of Lazarus spread like wildfire among the populace, and everyone joyously glorified God. The Apostles were waiting for the moment when their Teacher would come to Jerusalem to be glorified as an earthly king. They believed that this moment had finally arrived, and so they cried out exultantly: “Hosannah, blessed is the One Who comes in the name of the Lord!” So great was the enthusiasm of the populace, that people spread their clothes along the Lord’s path, cut off palm branches, and spread them before Him, or held them as a symbol of triumph and celebration. In ancient times, green branches were used to welcome kings who were returning victorious from battle. Thus we now have the custom for the faithful to receive blessed willow branches during the all-night vigil, to hold as a symbol of Christ’s victory over death.
Great was the enthusiasm of the apostles and the populace. But the One Who was the cause of this celebration did not Himself take part in the general rejoicing. The Lord knew how unstable was the populace and how changeable was the crowd. He foresaw that even a week would not pass, and the cries “Hosannah to the Son of David” would be replaced with the shouts “Take Him, take Him, and crucify Him,” and that these terrible words would be shouted by the same crowd which was now greeting Him so exultantly. This filled His saintly soul with great sadness. But one thing was of great comfort and joy to the Lord as He entered the capital – and that was the innocent voices of children, who cried out to Him from their pure souls and hearts: “Hosannah to the Son of David!” The Lord was filled with gladness as He witnessed this pure childish delight, and the children rejoiced and celebrated with all their hearts, expressing their love for Him spontaneously.
Immediately following upon the feast of the entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem (or Palm Sunday), we embark upon Passion Week, which commemorates the passion of our Lord and brings us to the feast of feasts – the glorious Resurrection of Christ.