Holy Week Commentary Series (Part 1) – Phoenix Sunday


An old friend challenged me to post a scripture/related thought each day for 7 days. I decided that since this week is Semana Santa, there should be plenty of timely things to talk about.

For my first musing, I wanted to remark about Palm Sunday as portrayed in John 12:12-15, also in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9:

12 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.
14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,
15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.

First of all, we should call it Phoenix Sunday, since back then palm trees were called Phoenix trees in ancient Greek. Not only is that a cooler name for them, the Phoenix is a symbol of resurrection. The light of the world entered Jerusalem peacefully and ready to lie down like a phoenix, only to triumphantly rise again in glory.

Why would he ride on a donkey and not a horse? Riding a horse into a city was a symbol of war and conquest. Donkeys are not used in conflict, but are rather a symbol of peace and good works. It is also a reminder of his pregnant mother riding a donkey to the place of his birth, which brought a peaceful good message (we call it the “gospel”) and good works to the whole world. Notably, this was in contrast to the common understanding of the mission of the messiah, which was then expected to be a political one.

The ancient Greek word used in the original New Testament texts for resurrection is anastasis, which means ana– (up, upward) stasis (standing). Next time you hear the name Anastasia, it should remind you of how upstanding the risen Lord truly is.


For part 2 in this series, click here.