The Coming of the Lord to Jerusalem (Palm Sunday)


The following notes are brief and don’t necessarily reflect exactly what’s conveyed in the the audio version of this sermon, but may provide a launching pad for further insights for those who wish to use them for that purpose.


 John 12:1-16

1 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. 2 There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. 3 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. 4 But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, 5 “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 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. 7 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. 8 “For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.” 9 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. 10 But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus. 12 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 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!” 14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey’s colt.”  16 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.


6 days = preparation through states 0f temptation

Passover = deliverance from the hells (proprium/evils & false appearances of truth in which our sense of self is grounded)

Jesus = the Lord’s desire for the salvation of the human race (Divine Truth or Word) Internal sense of the Word

Bethany = house of dates – good of the natural

Lazarus = resurrection of a new church (gentile states) – desire for truths from an affection for truth – regenerated natural

Supper = conjunction instruction

Martha = the exterior affection for truth (Love to the neighbour)

Lazarus sat a table with Him = natural mind as to genuine understanding of truth having been instructed in doctrine (table)

Mary = the interior affection for truth (Love to the Lord)

Spikenard = represents love to the Lord

Wipe feet with hair = communication between natural understanding (hair) and literal sense of the Word (feet)

Fragrant filling the house = Perception of goodness from love to the Lord filling the will

Judas Iscariot = love of self and the world (proprium) or sensual man –

a thief – that which claims what is of the Lord as its own –

robs or despises takes away internal things

the Lord as the Word affirms the value of internal things

over external things represented by the poor

Those who are curious having heard of the raising of Lazarus (acknowledgement /witness of the power of the Word to raise what is dead)

Chief priests = proprium’s power base – seek to put Lazarus to death – to undermine and destroy through reasoning all evidence of the Word’s power to regenerate the human mind

Acknowledgement on the external plane of the Word’s power to save or regenerate human minds

Palm branches = salvation the acknowledgement is that all truth is from Lord and is therefore the Lord

Symbolised through the Lord riding upon the colt of an ass – this symbolises a state where Divine Truth rules over natural reasoning when the Word is acknowledged from life to be the Lord Himself

when we see these things come to pass in our own experience – when the Word is acknowledge as divine then the things done are seen and the Lord is glorified.

Internal Meaning of Events/Activities

1. Jesus comes to Bethany = influx of the Lord’s life into the good of the natural

2. Supper prepared = reception of that influx leading to conjunction

3. Mary anoints feet = good from the interior affection for truth acknowledges the letter of the Word as holy

4. Mary wipes feet with hair = communication between interior affection for truth (Mary) and the letter of the word (feet) by means of factual knowledges/scientifics (hair).

5. Fragrance fills the house = perception, sphere of pleasantness and delight from an awareness of the Lord’s presence as the Word, this infill’s the mind that acknowledges the holiness of the Word down to the letter

6. Judas Iscariot = proprial self interest/reasoning grounded in the sensual or externals that are opposed to internals now comes into awareness

7. Jesus’ rebuke = truths from the Word counter proprial reasoning and affirm the activities belonging to the internal affection for truth – that these have to do with the burial i.e. resurrection of the Word in those being regenerated

Note interior affection for truth = inner application of truths to the life of the mind.

8. Throng of Jews attracted not only to Jesus but also because of Lazarus whom He rose from the dead = the Word is acknowledged due to its power to raise what is dead – the internal sense of the Word (Jesus) raises the natural understanding (Lazarus) out of proprium into its goods and truths or life in which a new proprium or sense of self is provided.

9. Chief priests plot to kill Lazarus as well = opposition rep by Judas lifts in intensity in what is rep. by the C-Priests. Proprial hatred of  truth looks to destroy the authority of the Word over death and the living evidence of its power to regenerate the human mind.

10. More people come to the feast on hearing that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem = those things in the mind that are open to spiritual truth are drawn into a closer connection with the Word

11. Branches of palm trees crying Hosanna = acknowledging the Lord/Word as Divine that all good and truth is from the Lord and that the Lord/Word alone is Saviour

12. Jesus sitting upon an ass = the acknowledgment above sees spiritual truths of the Word (Jesus) given authority over natural truths/appearances and the reasoning or the rational (ass)

13. The disciples didn’t understand any of this until Jesus (the Word) was glorified (seen to be divine) = to see and understand is from having first hand experience of the operation of truth or its acknowledgment as a matter of life (i.e. spiritual life)



Matt 10:32-39 Division and not peace

John 14:25-29 Preparation and peace

Matt 25:31-34 & 41 Separation of sheep and goats

Palm Sunday – coming of the Lord and the acknowledgment that He is the Messiah – influx of good into the doctrine present in our life whereby the Word can be acknowledged as saviour and what is opposed to heavenly loves can be exposed and separated.

The presence of divine truth is a two edged sword – it affirms that which affirm it – while that which is opposed to it is condemned

Centers on the person of Lazarus = who is both a catalyst for belief as well as a catalyst excites the hatred of those opposed

Series of scenes

1. love from an interior affection for truth; Mary and the anointing of the Lord’s feet (love to the Lord)

2. criticism of Judas = exposing the hypocrisy of the proprium

3. impact on ordinary Jews the sign of Lazarus

4. response of the C-Priests = further vastation of evil (removal of any semblance of good)

5. aknowledgment of the Lord as Saviour – King and Lord

6. symbol of the Lord riding upon an ass

7. disciples don’t understand the significance until the Lord is glorified

AR 367  Clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands. This symbolizes a communication and conjunction with the higher heavens, and a confession springing from Divine truths.

To be clothed with white robes means, symbolically, to have a communication and conjunction with the heavens (see no. 328 above). Holding palm branches in the hands symbolizes confessions springing from Divine truths because palm branches symbolize Divine truths. For every tree symbolizes some element of the church, and palm branches symbolize Divine truth in outmost expressions, which is the Divine truth in the literal sense of the Word.

Engraved, therefore, on all the walls of the Temple in Jerusalem, inside and out, and also on its doors, were cherubim and palm trees (1 Kings 6:29, 32). Likewise in the New Temple described in Ezekiel 41:18-20. Cherubim symbolize the Word (no. 239), and palm trees the Divine truths in it.

That palm trees symbolize Divine truths in the Word, and palm branches in the hands confessions springing from them, can be seen from the fact that the Israelites were commanded to take, at the feast of Tabernacles, “the fruits of honorable trees and branches of palms, and rejoice before Jehovah.” (Leviticus 23:39, 40)

It can be seen also from the fact that when Jesus came to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, the people “took palm branches and went to meet Him, crying, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'” (John 12:12, 13)

These symbolize a confession of the Lord springing from Divine truths.

A palm tree symbolizes Divine truth also in the book of Psalms:
The righteous man shall flourish like a palm tree; he shall grow…planted in the house of Jehovah; he shall sprout in the courts of our God. (Psalm 92:12, 13)

AE 137 …by “Lazarus,” who lay at the rich man’s gate and longed to be fed with the crumbs that fell from his table, are meant all whom the Lord loves because they long for truths from spiritual affection (see above, n. 118). That the Lord loved a certain one named Lazarus, whom also He raised from the dead, is manifest in John (chap. 11:3, 5, 36) and that he reclined with the Lord at table, (chap. 12), on which account he was called “Lazarus,” by the Lord, who longed to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table, whereby is signified a longing for truths from spiritual affection (as shown above, n. 118).

AC 2781[8] ‘Riding on an ass’ served to indicate that the natural was subordinate, and ‘riding on a colt, the foal of a she-ass’ that the rational was so; for ‘the foal of a she-ass’ is similar in meaning to ‘a mule’, as has been shown above, where Gen. 49:11 is referred to.*** From this – the spiritual meaning of these animals – and because it was the right of the supreme judge and of the king to ride on them, and at the same time so that He might fulfil the representatives of the Church, the Lord was pleased to ride in this way. His doing so is described in John as follows,
The next day a great crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel! Jesus found a young ass and sat on it, as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, sitting on a she-ass’s colt! These things however His disciples had not understood at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of Him, and that they had done these things for Him. John 12:12-16; Mark 11:1-12; Luke 19:28-41.

[9] From an this it may now be clear that every single thing in the Church of that period was representative of the Lord, and consequently of the celestial and spiritual things that are in His kingdom; even the she-ass and the colt of the she-ass were so, which represented the natural man as regards good and truth. The reason for the representation was that the natural man ought to serve the rational, and the rational to serve the spiritual; but the spiritual ought to serve the celestial, and the celestial to serve the Lord. This is the order in which one is subordinated to another.

About David Millar

My passion revolves around supporting people to engage with the Lord's Word, or Divine truths in the form of sacred texts, to cultivate an intentional spiritual practice. Through the works penned by Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) we find that the Biblical texts contain a deeper meaning that, once understood, enables them to be applied in ways that open the human mind to the realisation of its spiritual potential. The goal of the Divine Life is to free each and every human being from the pain of self centred living and bring them into the experience of all that is heavenly through the promotion of what is genuinely good and true. The material shared here is offered in the pursuit of that aim.
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