Many in the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut from the fields.
I. THE WELCOME GIVEN TO JESUS.
1. His welcome would have been more speedy and general had he come differently. All through his ministry we find evidence of that. There was eagerness for a Messiah of a certain type. A promise to restore the theocracy, and overthrow the Roman tyranny, would have been hailed with a unanimous shout of delight. But our Lord would not be content, and never is, with a worldly homage, such as a Christian nation, for example, offers when it calls itself by his Name, and violates his principles. Unless he rules human hearts, he has no joy and the ruled no bliss. Even an earthly king desires real loyalty; but he cannot read men's thoughts nor see how in heart his flatterers despise him. If he could, how thankfully would he turn from the adulation of courtiers to the unsophisticated love of his children! So our Lord turned from priests and Pharisees to the humble peasants of Galilee and the loving children in Jerusalem. In order to avoid false homage, Christ came, and still comes, quietly. He comes not with peals of thunder and visions of angels, nor even as a national leader appealing to popular passion and armed force; but, in quiet thoughts and in happy Christian homes, he reveals' himself to those seeking the truth, or burdened with sin.
2. Even such a welcome as this given on Palm Sunday was unusual. His motto seemed to be, "He shall not strive, nor cry, nor cause his voice to be heard in the streets." Popular applause was suppressed, and even natural enthusiasm was cooled. If people would take him by force to make him a king, he departed and did hide himself from them. If the disciples saw a glimpse of his glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, he said, "See that ye tell no man." His miracles were quietly wrought, generally with but few witnesses, and those blessed were often told not to publish it. But on this first day of the last week he wished to have an unwonted procession. In the crowds who had come together for the Passover all the elements of it were ready, if he only gave a sign of his willingness to receive it. And this he did. He arranged for it. He sent to the village for the young colt, and when it was brought he sat upon it, and allowed a simple procession to be formed, which increased in numbers and enthusiasm as they drew nearer to Jerusalem.
3. This exceptional scene was wisely ordered.
(1) The memory of it would help the disciples in the dark days which ended that eventful week; for they would reflect that it was not want of power, but want of will, which did not allow him to rouse the people in his defense. "The Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep."
(2) Besides, it would give an opportunity to the people to see him as the King he claimed to be, and it was possible that some who had resisted other influences might yield to this, and pay him homage now, lie had come as a babe to Jerusalem, and few had loved him; he had come as a child, only to be wondered at when he sat among the doctors; he had come to the feasts, and scarcely any had recognized him. He had come" unto his own, and his own received him not." Once more, in a new way, he would draw near. He would try one more avenue to the closed heart before uttering the pathetic lament, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children... and ye would not!"
(3) Further, there was something prophetic and typical in this procession. The triumphal entry was a symbol of the resurrection on that day week, and of his later ascension to heaven amidst the hosannas of the angels. It was a prophecy also of his kingly progress through history, and of his second coming in glory, when all in heaven and all on earth will cry, "Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord!"
II. THE CROWN SURROUNDING JESUS. In some of those there we may see, perhaps, representatives of ourselves.
1. Enthusiasts were there. They had seen his miracles, and with loud hosannas spread their garments in his way. He foresaw with sadness the change that would come over them. They applauded on Olivet, but they were absent from Calvary. Beware of spasmodic enthusiasm, and ask for grace to stand by Christ's cause in times of trouble as well as in times of triumph.
2. Foes were there. They kept quiet while the crowd of his followers surrounded them; but soon they would raise the cry, "Crucify him! crucify him!" It is possible to "crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."
3. Disciples were there. The blind who had been restored, demoniacs who had been delivered, learners who had sat reverently at his feet. In the procession which still is following the Lord, may we find our place! - A.R.
And they spread their garments in the way.
1. We should make them subservient to the promotion of the rectitude of our nature and of our life. With the kindling of our religious emotions there comes strength for action, and our care should be to use that strength for right action.
2. It is not always safe to act under the impulse of strong feelings; therefore we need, at such seasons, to be more than ordinarily prayerful; and at such times conscience ought to be more than ever consulted.
3. If a man, under the influence of religious excitement, does not do what conscience and God's law clearly require of him, there is little reason to expect that he will do so when the excitement shall have passed away. There are certain lessons taught us by this subject.(1) That religious excitement has its sphere of usefulness in the development of religious life;(2) but it is a grievous mistake to regard emotional excitement as the very essence and substance of religion.
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