Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,


Lazarus Saturday is a paschal celebration. It is the only time in the entire Church year that the resurrection service of Sunday is celebrated on another day. At the Divine Liturgy of Lazarus Saturday, the church glorifies Christ as "the Resurrection and the Life" Who, by raising Lazarus, has confirmed the universal resurrection of mankind even before His Own suffering and death.

"By raising Lazarus from the dead before Thy Passion, Thou did confirm the universal resurrection, O Christ God! Like the children with the branches of victory of Death: Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He that that comes in the name of the Lord! (Troparion)


Christ--the Joy, the Truth and the Light of all, the Life of the world and its Resurrection--has appeared in His goodness to those on earth. He has become the Image of our Resurrection, granting divine forgiveness to all. (Kontakion Hymn)


At the Divine Liturgy of Lazarus Saturday the baptismal verse from Galatians: "As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal. 3:27) replaces the Thrice-Holy Hymn thus indicating the resurrectional character of the celebration, and the fact that Lazarus Saturday was once among the few great baptismal days in the Orthodox Church Year. Because of the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead, Christ was hailed by the masses as the long-expected Messiah-King of Israel. Thus, in the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament, He entered Jerusalem, the City of the King, riding on the colt of an ass (Zechariah 9:9; John 12:12). The crowds greeted Him with branches in their hands and called out to Him with shouts of praise: "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The Son of David! The King of Israel! Because of this glorification by the people, the priests and scribes were finally driven "to destroy Him, to put Him to death" (Luke 19:47; John 11:53, 12:10).

The feast of the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, Palm Sunday, is one of the Twelve Major Feasts of the Church. The services of this Sunday follow directly from those of Lazarus Saturday. The church building continues to be vested in resurrectional splendor, filled with hymns which continually repeat the Hosanna offered to Christ as the Messiah-King Who comes in the name of God the Father for the salvation of the world.

The main troparion of Palm Sunday is the same one sung on Lazarus Saturday. It is sung at all of the services, and is used at the Divine Liturgy as the third antiphon which follows the other special psalm verses which are sung as the liturgical antiphons in the place of normally used. The second troparion of the feast, as well as the kontakion and the other verses and hymns, all continue to glorify Christ's Triumphal manifestation "six days before the Passover" when He will give Himself at the Supper and on the Cross for the life of the world.

"Today the grace of the Holy Spirit has gathered us together. Let us all take up Thy Cross and say: Blessed Is He Who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!" (First Verse of Vespers).


"When we are buried with Thee in baptism, O Christ God, we were made worthy of eternal life by Thy Resurrection. Now we praise Thee and sing: Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!" (second Troparion).


"Sitting on Thy Throne in heaven, and carried on a foal on earth, O Christ God, accept the praise of Angels and the songs of children who sing: Blessed is He Who comes to recall Adam!" (Kontakion)

(Source: Orthodox Church in America)


Saint Nikolai Velimirovich


"On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet Him, and cried: 'Hosanna; blessed is the King of Israel that cometh n the name of the Lord."

The day following the supper at Bethany, the Lord set out for Jerusalem, for the city that "slew the prophets." But Jerusalem was not only the home of narrow-minded Pharisees, arrogant Scribes and God-hating chief priests, but was also an ant-hill of humanity, a vast camp of pilgrims and devout men and women. During the Passover, Jerusalem had almost as many inhabitants as Rome, the capital of the world at that time. This vast mass of humanity-a huge crowd capable of insight and independent thought-was gathered in Jerusalem in order to draw closer to God. In this case, on this day, they did indeed have a premonition of the mysterious closeness of God. Therefore, when the Lord was coming down from the Mount of Olives, these people went up to meet Him. Some spread their garments in the road before Him, others cut branches of palms, and with them decorated the road, and they all joyfully cried out in greeting: "Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna in the highest!" Blessed be the King of Israel, Who comes in the name of the Lord! In contrast to Rome's iron fist, in contrast to the corruption and partisan pettiness of their elders, the souls of the people believed in the possibility of a miracle from God that would change the whole, unendurable situation. And the souls of the people sensed that the source of this miracle was Jesus the Lord, and therefore gave Him such a joyful welcome. How He was to bring about this fundamental change in the course of events, the people did not know; they had been taught to expect only one way of bringing it about, and that was with the help of a king from the House of David, who would reign in Jerusalem on David's throne. The people, for this reason, saw Jesus as a king, and greeted Him with joy and the hope that he would now reign in Jerusalem, in opposition to both Rome and the Jerusalem of their day. But this faith on the people's part called out fear on the part of the Pharisees; and this joy called forth their wrath. Some Pharisees therefore told Christ to stop them crying out in this way. But the meek Lord, aware of the irresistibility of His power, replied to them: "I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out" (St. Luke 19:40). This is the reply of the King of kings, dressed as a poor man and riding on an ass, for the Evangelists describe how the Lord, at this Triumphal Entry, rode on an ass:

"And Jesus, when He had found a young ass, sat thereon, as it is written: 'Fear not, daughter of Sion; Behold, thy King cometh, sitting upon an ass's colt'."

The disciples set out at His command and found it all as He had said. With the colt was its mother. Why did the Lord not ride on the she-ass, but upon her colt, upon which no-one had yet ridden? Because the she-ass, would not let herself be either ridden or led. The she-ass represents the Jewish people, and the colt the pagan people. This is the interpretation given by the Holy Fathers, and their interpretation is undoubtedly correct. Israel will reject Christ, and the pagans will accept Him. The pagans will, for the most part, be the bearers of Christ through history, and will enter with Him into the Jerusalem that is above, into the heavenly Kingdom...

Oh, when shall we all turn our spirits away from the proud but powerless machinations of this world, and turn them to the heavenly Mount, towards Christ the King? Oh, when shall we place all our hope in Him? Our soul seeks the Conqueror of sin and death, which the whole universe cannot overcome by its own efforts. Christ is this Conqueror. Our souls hunger and thirst for the humble but mighty King: humble in His might, and mighty in His humility, for the King Who is the friend of each one of us, for the King Whose Kingdom has no bounds and Whose love for mankind cannot be measured. Such a one is the King, Christ the Lord. To Him we all therefore cry: "Hosanna! Hosanna!" To Him be Glory and praise, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit-the Trinity consubstantial and undivided, now and forever, through all time and all eternity. Amen.



The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.





With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George