We have arrived at Palm Sunday – the celebration of the glorious entry of Our Lord into the city of Jerusalem. This Feast as well as the Feast of Lazarus Saturday are extremely pertinent to our understanding of the coming Feast of Feasts, Pascha, for these feasts serve as a prelude to the solemn days of Holy Week.
We hear in the many hymns of Lazarus Saturday Christ’s resurrection power and anticipate His Triumph over death through His own resurrection.
We know from the Gospel John 11:1-45 that Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary were his friends and therefore, we should not be surprised that Our Lord was moved to tears upon hearing of Lazarus’ death. The name Lazarus actually means “God is my help”, so it is not surprising that Jesus raised him from the dead, as a pre-figuration or “glimpse” of His own glorious Resurrection.
Our Church believes that the raising of Lazarus from the dead was a sign of our own spiritual resurrection during the present life and just as Lazarus came out of the tomb of darkness and was freed from his grave, so too, each of us, through our repentance and baptism comes out of the darkness of a spiritual death and is freed from the bonds of sin, receiving new life in Christ. We indeed can be “unwrapped” from the bands of sin which do fetter us, just as Lazarus was freed from his grave clothes, thereby experiencing newness in Christ.
This theme is again proclaimed in Christ’s Triumphal entry into Jerusalem where unlike Kings of old, He comes simply riding upon the colt of an ass, followed by a motley group of Galilean fisherman. However, Jesus came into the city as the Prince of Peace and thus the crowds and children, especially the children, welcomed Him as a joyful expression of His spiritual Kingship. “Rejoice, rejoice, people of Zion! Shout for joy, you people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you!” (Zachariah 9:9)
This Feast beckons us to now center our attention on the events of the coming Holy Week, when the crowds will no longer proclaim, “Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, Blessed is the King of Israel”, but rather “Crucify Him, Crucify Him”.
This week we will accompany Our Lord on the way to the Cross, as the Bridegroom of the Church, through our anointing in the commemoration of His passion, as participants in His Supper, His betrayal, arrest, trial, scourging, carrying the Cross to Golgotha, His crucifixion and death on its length.
We must as Orthodox Christians make every effort to attend the services of this special week, and through the words and hymns of the Church, become participants in the sacred drama of Our Saviour’s death and resurrection, so that we too can be lifted up to a new life filled with the Holy Spirit!
Please join us as brothers and sisters!