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April 5, 2015

"Behold Your King Is Coming To You"

By Lambros K. Skontzos

After the wondrous resurrection of Lazarus, his pious sisters laid out for the Lord and His disciples a great and brilliant dinner to thank their Great Benefactor.

Martha made sure nothing was missing from the rich table. With them sat Lazarus. Mary, during the dinner, took a precious container full of expensive myrrh and began to wash the feet of Christ.

She also untied her rich hair and with it wiped the feet of the Redeemer. The fragrant scent of myrrh filled the house.

This event created feelings of surprise to bystanders. Judas Iscariot, the future traitor of the Lord, said: "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages."

And the sacred evangelist adds a note at this point: "He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it" (Jn. 12:6).

The man of lawlessness, completely enslaved to his humble passions, remained completely untouched by the three-year presence of his divine Teacher.

His utilitarian materialistic giddiness, held him as a prisoner of the passion of avarice. This passion will then lead him in a few days to betray his Teacher and to his personal tragic demise. His name will forever be synonymous with betrayal.

The Lord with apparent fineness disregarded the challenge of Judas, and said: "Leave her alone. It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me" (Jn. 12:7-8).

Of course, these words were incomprehensible to His disciples, because, still clinging to their nationalist Jewish perception of the Messiah, they believed in a glorious march into Jerusalem in order to take power and liberate the nation from the foreign oppressor.

That hour there arrived at the house during the dinner a great multitude of Jews, who wanted to see the wondrous rabbi who resurrected Lazarus. They also wanted to see with their own eyes the one who had risen.

At the same time the chief priests and rulers of the Jewish people had taken counsel and discussed the possibility of killing Lazarus, because they were concerned that many people believed in the divine power of Jesus, due to the exquisite miracle.

They had already decided to kill the Lord (Jn. 11:47-57), and the traitor disciple was in communication with the Jewish priesthood (Jn. 12:3-8, Matt. 26:14-16) for the delivery of his Teacher.

The next day Christ entered Jerusalem with His disciples. The big news of the resurrection of Lazarus had reached from Bethany to the Holy City and created feelings of excitement and euphoria in the people.

Because of the upcoming feast of Passover many foreign pilgrims had flocked there. When they were informed by the crowd of the arrival of the man who resurrected Lazarus, they took palm branches into their hands and went out into the street to greet Him singing the victory paean: "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!" (Jn. 12:13).

Some laid out their clothes on the road for the great victor to pass over. This scene was common in those times. Victorious kings entered triumphantly into cities, and were deified by the crowds.

The Lord is seated on the foal of a donkey quietly, calmly and without regard for the celebrations in the Holy City, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah: "“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you, just and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey" (Zech. 9:9).

The crowd, says the sacred evangelist, confessed that "He called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him" (Jn. 12:17-18). Unlike the enthusiastic crowd, the Pharisees with obvious concern and hatred said among themselves: "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!" (Jn. 12:19).

The entry of the Lord into Jerusalem is the last scene of the dramatic work of His earthly life.

He entered humbly on a colt, although the crowd cheered and behaved as if they had in front of them a worldly king who enters triumphantly into the capital of his kingdom.

He knows very well that the cheers and celebrations of the crowd is a temporary and false event.

All these enthusiastic people who are deifying Him, are indicating at that moment their micro-nationalist perception of Him.

Their motives are selfish and cheap. The absence of spirituality was diffused in them.

The Lord also knew that all these people, who are glorifying his entrance into Jerusalem, will be the same who five days later will shout out, beneath the Praetorium, and will require of the representative of the Roman oppressor to "crucify Him, crucify Him!" (Lk. 23:22).

For us the faithful the entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem is the beginning of His voluntary journey towards the divine Passion.

We are celebrating this day with mixed feelings of joy and sadness. We are celebrating with feelings of joy because our Redeemer Christ is heading towards His salvific sufferings for our salvation.

We are celebrating with feelings of sadness, because our Lord will suffer for our sake, on behalf of our evils, the painful passion and He will suffer and hurt as a man.

He will ascend Golgotha, He will die as a villain, and He will be buried as a commoner. In remembrance of the great and triumphant entry of our Lord into the Holy City, we also hold on this holy day laurel branches, greeting the Lord as the victor and triumphant king, certainly not of the world, as the Jews were expecting, but as the eternal and supreme spiritual anax.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.