April 8, 2017
By Kassa Nigus
Hosa’ena: is one of the moveable feasts of our Lord that falls on Sunday prior to Easter. The feast commemorates the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-9), when palm branches were placed in His path, before His arrest on Thursday and His crucifixion on Good Friday. It thus marks the beginning of Passion Week, the final week of Lent. According to (Mathew 21:1-16), the story of Hosa’ena (Palm Sunday) was narrated as follows:
The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem
Jesus had spent many times traveling through the towns and villages around Jerusalem. He preached about the kingdom of God and healed the sick wherever He went. As they came near Jerusalem, Jesus told two of His disciples to go into a nearby village and bring a donkey that would be waiting there. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey. Crowds of people spread their coats on the ground in front of Him. The holy city of Jerusalem was crowded with pilgrims who had come for the annual Passover celebration.
Some waved branches of palm trees, a sign of victory. The people shouted, Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord – the King of Israel! (Psalm 118: 26)
The Ethiopian churches decorated with palms and the Arch deacon distribute palm branches to the fellowship in memory of the greetings Jesus received from the pilgrims as He rode into Jerusalem. It is customary in Ethiopian churches for the worshippers to receive fresh palm leaves on Palm Sunday. The walls of the temple ornamented with emblems of the palm. Believers often prepare palm fronds by knotting them into crosses used as rings and tied on their heads in preparation for the procession on Sunday.
Why Jesus carried on the donkey?
To fulfill the prophesy of Zachariah, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He [is] just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon a donkey, and upon a colt the foal of a donkey.”(Zachariah 9:9 KJV)
The symbolism of the donkey may refer to the ancient tradition that it is an animal of peace, versus the horse, which is the animal of war. A king come riding upon a horse when he was bent on war and rode upon a donkey when he wanted to point out he was coming in peace. Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem would thus symbolize His entry as the Prince of Peace, not as a war-waging king.
In many cultures, donkeys are among the lowliest and have almost no value in our eyes. He comes in peace and humility and rides in on a donkey. According to church’s tradition, in ancient times, palm branches symbolized goodness and victory, for example, Abraham praised His Lord holding palm branches when he gave birth his first Child Isaac, and his descendants, Isaac and Jacob had done the same. During their departure, Israelites also praised their Lord using palm branches.
Source: Holy Bible King James Version, 1769.
The Ethiopian Gospel Commentary 1983E.C (pp.233-236)