And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem.…
I. THAT WHICH MAKES MEN ILLUSTRIOUS, AND WORTHY OF DISTINCTION — lofty genius, heroism, expansive benevolence, mighty achievements — all that intensified and sublimely illustrated to a degree infinitely beyond what is possible to attainment by ordinary mortals, DISTINGUISHES THE LORD JESUS, AND ENTITLES HIM TO OUR HOMAGE AND PRAISE, Take —
1. Genius. What is genius? Genius originates, invents, creates. Talent reproduces that which has been, and still is. The spindles in our mills, the locomotives in our shops represent genius. The swift play of the one, and the majestic tread of the other across the continents on paths of steel, is genius in motion. Now turn the light of these definitions upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and see if He has not genius worthy of our best praise. It were folly to deny creative genius to Him, by whose word the worlds sprang into being, and by whose power they continue to exist. It were folly to deny originality to the Alpha and Omega of all mind and matter, life and spirit. Folly again to deny superior intellectual acumen to Him, who is the light of all intellect, the inspirer of all right thought, the incentive to all noble action. The blind saw, and the deaf heard, and the dumb spake, and the dead awoke. As to the modifying influence which Coleridge says is implied in the highest type of genius, it has been truly affirmed: The genius of Christ, exerted through His gospel in which His Spirit presides, has made itself felt in all the different relations and modifications of life. Take the next element of distinction that men applaud.
2. Heroism. Spontaneous is the homage paid to heroes. In some lands they are deified and worshipped. Heroism! Produce another example, such as Jesus of Nazareth, from the long list of the world's illustrious! Take the next quality in lofty manhood that men extol —
3. Benevolence. Of this Jesus was the perfect personification.
4. Wonderful achievement receives applause from men. The multitude praised God "for all the mighty works that they had seen." Our works may be good, Christ's are mighty as well as good. We visit the sick, Christ cures them.
II. HIS PRAISES HAVE BEEN SUNG IN ALL AGES, ON ACCOUNT OF HIS WORTHINESS OF ALL HOMAGE IN HEAVEN AND IN EARTH. Abraham, the representative of the patriarchal age, looked forward to His day with glad anticipations, and praised the promised seed. Jacob, in his dying predictions, sang of the Shiloh, and waited for His salvation. Moses chose for the subject of his eulogy the Prophet like unto himself, unto whom the people should hearken. David in exalted strains sang of His character and works, His trials and triumphs, His kingdom and glory, and died exulting, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting and to everlasting. Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen." The prophets all rejoiced in Zion's delivery and Judah's King. At His birth, angels and shepherds and sages sang His praises. As in some of the old monasteries one choir of monks relieved another choir in order that the service of praise might not cease, so as one generation of the children of God has retired to its rest, another has caught up the glad strains of hosannas to Christ, and in this way they have been perpetuated down the centuries.
III. THERE ARE THOSE, HOWEVER, WHO WOULD INTERRUPT THE PRAISES OF GOD'S PEOPLE: YEA, WORSE, SUPPRESS THEM ALTOGETHER. We learn from our text that this was the desire of the Pharisees on this occasion. Thus, the wicked and unbelieving now would stop all ascriptions of praise to Christ. They would quench the flames of devotion that the Holy Ghost kindles in the hearts of believers. "Praise Nature! Sing odes to the landscape! Worship the beautiful in what your eyes see, the tangible, that of which you have positive knowledge through the certification of your senses! Don't be wasting your devotion on the unseen, the unknowable, the mythical, the intangible!" — so says the Agnostic. "Do homage to Reason! Let Reason be the object of your worship; its cultivation the effort of your life! What wonders it has accomplished in science and philosophy!" — so says the Rationalist. "Sing of wine, feasting, sensuality! Bacchus is our god. Praise him! Worship him!" says the Profligate. "Sing of wars, and of victories, and of conquests! Apollo is the god whom we worship, and whose praises we resound. Therefore, spread your palms with paeans of triumph at the feet of victors!" — so say Conquerors. Standing erect, with his thumbs thrust in the arm-holes of his vest, his chest thrown forward and his head backward, like an oily, overfed, bigoted Pharisee, "Sing of me," says the Self-Righteous. "Praise the Saviour!" says the believer, and the call receives a response.
(N. H. Van Arsdale.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem.