Palm Sunday (2011)

The Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem

“Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead.  There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.  But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, ‘Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’  This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.’   Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus. The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ The King of Israel!’ Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: ‘Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey’s colt.’ His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him. Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign.”  (John 12:1-18)

St. Andrew Archbishop of Crete (d. early 8th C) wrote:

“So let us spread before His feet, not garments of soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in His grace, or rather, clothed completely in Him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before Him. Now that the crimson stains of our sins have been washed away in the saving waters of Baptism and we have become white as pure wool, let us present the Conqueror of death, not with mere branches of palms but with the real rewards of His victory. Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children’s holy song: ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the King of Israel.’” (St. Andrew Archbishop of Crete, Synaxarion of the Lenten Triodion and Pentecostarion, pg.117)

The Raising of Lazarus, the Man Whom Jesus Loved

“Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’  Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.’  Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘“Unbind him, and let him go.'”   (John 11:38-44)

St. John Chrysostom commenting on the Gospel lesson of the raising of Lazarus, wrote:

“What was Christ’s command?  ‘Lazarus, come forth!’  When Christ prayed, the dead man did not arise.  He arose when Christ said, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’  O the tyranny of death!  O the tyranny of the power which took possession of that soul!  My prayers was uttered, O Hell, and do you still refuse to let his soul go?  ‘I do refuse,’ Hell says.  But why?  ‘Because I was not commanded to do so.  I am a prison guard here and I have in my possession one who is subject to me.  If I am not commanded to do so, I will not set him free.  The prayer was not made on my account but for the unbelievers who are nearby.  If I am not commanded to do so, I will not set free one who is in my keeping.  I am waiting for the word of command to free his soul.’

‘Lazarus, come out here!’  The dead man heard the command of his master and immediately he broke the laws of death.  … Surely, Christ’s word has proved that the prayer was not uttered to raise the dead man but because of the weakness of the unbelievers who were, at the moment, nearby.  ‘Lazarus, come forth!’  Why did he call the dead man by name?  Why?  If he were to have given a general command to all the dead, he would have raised all those in the tomb back to life.  But he did not wish to raise them all…. By raising one dead man to life, I may prove my power over those who are going to die.  For I, who have raised one man, will raise up the whole world.  For I am the resurrection and the life.

‘Lazarus, come forth!’  And the dead man came forth bound with bandages.   What marvelous and unexpected things Christ did!  He loosed the soul from the bonds of death.  He burst open the portals of hell.  He shattered to bits the gates of bronze and bolts of iron.  He set free the soul of Lazarus from the bonds of death.”   (St. John Chrysostom, ON THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE NATURE OF GOD, pp 241-242)