“Thy King Cometh”
“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 an ass, and upon a colt the foal
of an ass.” Zech. 9:9.
Five hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Zechariah
thus foretold the coming of the King to Israel. This prophecy is now
to be fulfilled. He who has so long refused royal honors now comes to
Jerusalem as the promised heir to David’s throne.
It was on the first day of the week that Christ made His triumphal
entry into Jerusalem. Multitudes who had flocked to see Him at Bethany
now accompanied Him, eager to witness His reception. Many people
were on their way to the city to keep the Passover, and these joined the
multitude attending Jesus. All nature seemed to rejoice. The trees were
clothed with verdure, and their blossoms shed a delicate fragrance on
the air. A new life and joy animated the people. The hope of the new
kingdom was again springing up.
Purposing to ride into Jerusalem, Jesus had sent two of His disciples
to bring to Him an ass and its colt. At His birth the Saviour was dependent
upon the hospitality of strangers. The manger in which He
lay was a borrowed resting place. Now, although the cattle on a thousand
hills are His, He is dependent on a stranger’s kindness for an animal on
which to enter Jerusalem as its King. But again His divinity is revealed,
even in the minute directions given His disciples for this errand. As He
foretold, the plea, “The Lord hath need of them,” was readily granted.
Jesus chose for His use the colt on which never man had sat. The disciples,
with glad enthusiasm, spread their garments on the beast, and
seated their Master upon it. Heretofore Jesus had always traveled on
foot, and the disciples had at first wondered that He should now choose
to ride. But hope brightened in their hearts with the joyous thought that
He was about to enter the capital, proclaim Himself King, and assert
His royal power. While on their errand they communicated their glowing
expectations to the friends of Jesus, and the excitement spread far
and near, raising the expectations of the people to the highest pitch.
Christ was following the Jewish custom for a royal entry. The animal
on which He rode was that ridden by the kings of Israel, and prophecy
had foretold that thus the Messiah should come to His kingdom. No
sooner was He seated upon the colt than a loud shout of triumph rent
the air. The multitude hailed Him as Messiah, their King. Jesus now
accepted the homage which He had never before permitted, and the
disciples received this as proof that their glad hopes were to be realized
by seeing Him established on the throne. The multitude were convinced
that the hour of their emancipation was at hand. In imagination they
saw the Roman armies driven from Jerusalem, and Israel once more an
independent nation. All were happy and excited; the people vied with
one another in paying Him homage. They could not display outward
pomp and splendor, but they gave Him the worship of happy hearts.
They were unable to present Him with costly gifts, but they spread their
outer garments as a carpet in His path, and they also strewed the leafy
branches of the olive and the palm in the way. They could lead the
triumphal procession with no royal standards, but they cut down the
spreading palm boughs, Nature’s emblem of victory, and waved them
aloft with loud acclamations and hosannas.
As they proceeded, the multitude was continually increased by those
who had heard of the coming of Jesus and hastened to join the procession.
Spectators were constantly mingling with the throng, and asking, Who
is this? What does all this commotion signify? They had all heard of
Jesus, and expected Him to go to Jerusalem; but they knew that He
had heretofore discouraged all effort to place Him on the throne, and
they were greatly astonished to learn that this was He. They wondered
what could have wrought this change in Him who had declared that His
kingdom was not of this world.
Their questionings are silenced by a shout of triumph. Again and
again it is repeated by the eager throng; it is taken up by the people afar
off, and echoed from the surrounding hills and valleys. And now the
procession is joined by crowds from Jerusalem. From the multitudes
gathered to attend the Passover, thousands go forth to welcome Jesus.
They greet Him with the waving of palm branches and a burst of sacred
song. The priests at the temple sound the trumpet for evening service,
but there are few to respond, and the rulers say to one another in alarm.
“The world is gone after Him.”
Never before in His earthly life had Jesus permitted such a
demonstration. He clearly foresaw the result. It would bring Him to the cross.
But it was His purpose thus publicly to present Himself as the Redeemer.
He desired to call attention to the sacrifice that was to crown His mission
to a fallen world. While the people were assembling at Jerusalem to
celebrate the Passover, He, the antitypical Lamb, by a voluntary act set
Himself apart as an oblation. It would be needful for His church in all
succeeding ages to make His death for the sins of the world a subject of
deep thought and study. Every fact connected with it should be verified
beyond a doubt. It was necessary, then, that the eyes of all people should
now be directed to Him; the events which preceded His great sacrifice
must be such as to call attention to the sacrifice itself. After such a
demonstration as that attending His entry into Jerusalem, all eyes would
follow His rapid progress to the final scene.
The events connected with this triumphal ride would be the talk of
every tongue, and would bring Jesus before every mind. After His
crucifixion, many would recall these events in their connection with
His trial and death. They would be led to search the prophecies, and
would be convinced that Jesus was the Messiah; and in all lands converts
to the faith would be multiplied.
In this one triumphant scene of His earthly life, the Saviour might
have appeared escorted by heavenly angels, and heralded by the trump
of God; but such a demonstration would have been contrary to the
purpose of His mission, contrary to the law which had governed His life.
He remained true to the humble lot He had accepted. The burden of
humanity He must bear until His life was given for the life of the world.
This day, which seemed to the disciples the crowning day of their
lives, would have been shadowed with gloomy clouds had they known
that this scene of rejoicing was but a prelude to the suffering and death
of their Master. Although He had repeatedly told them of His certain
sacrifice, yet in the glad triumph of the present they forgot His sorrowful
words, and looked forward to His prosperous reign on David’s throne.
New accessions were made continually to the procession, and, with
few exceptions, all who joined it caught the inspiration of the hour, and
helped to swell the hosannas that echoed and re-echoed from hill to hill
and from valley to valley. The shouts went up continually, “Hosanna
to the Son of David: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest.”
Never before had the world seen such a triumphal procession. It was not
like that of the earth’s famous conquerors. No train of mourning
captives, as trophies of kingly valor, made a feature of that scene. But
about the Saviour were the glorious trophies of His labors of love for
sinful man. There were the captives whom He had rescued from Satan’s
power, praising God for their deliverance. The blind whom He had
restored to sight were leading the way. The dumb whose tongues He
had loosed shouted the loudest hosannas. The cripples whom He had
healed bounded with joy, and were the most active in breaking the palm
branches and waving them before the Saviour. Widows and orphans
were exalting the name of Jesus for His works of mercy to them. The
lepers whom He had cleansed spread their untainted garments in His
path, and hailed Him as the King of glory. Those whom His voice had
awakened from the sleep of death were in that throng. Lazarus, whose
body had seen corruption in the grave, but who now rejoiced in the
strength of glorious manhood, led the beast on which the Saviour rode.
Many Pharisees witnessed the scene, and, burning with envy
and malice, sought to turn the current of popular feeling. With all their
authority they tried to silence the people; but their appeals and threats
only increased the enthusiasm. They feared that this multitude, in the
strength of their numbers, would make Jesus king. As a last resort they
pressed through the crowd to where the Saviour was, and accosted Him
with reproving and threatening words: “Master, rebuke Thy disciples.”
They declared that such noisy demonstrations were unlawful, and would
not be permitted by the authorities. But they were silenced by the reply
of Jesus, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones
would immediately cry out.” That scene of triumph was of God’s own
appointing. It had been foretold by the prophet, and man was powerless
to turn aside God’s purpose. Had men failed to carry out His plan, He
would have given a voice to the inanimate stones, and they would have
hailed His Son with acclamations of praise. As the silenced Pharisees
drew back, the words of Zechariah were taken up by hundreds of voices:
“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 an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”
When the procession reached the brow of the hill, and was about
to descend into the city, Jesus halted, and all the multitude with Him.
Before them lay Jerusalem in its glory, now bathed in the light of the
declining sun. The temple attracted all eyes. In stately grandeur it
towered above all else, seeming to point toward heaven as if directing the
people to the only true and living God. The temple had long been
the pride and glory of the Jewish nation. The Romans also prided
themselves in its magnificence. A king appointed by the Romans had
united with the Jews to rebuild and embellish it, and the emperor of
Rome had enriched it with his gifts. Its strength, richness, and magnificence
had made it one of the wonders of the world.
While the westering sun was tinting and gilding the heavens, its
resplendent glory lighted up the pure white marble of the temple walls,
and sparkled on its gold-capped pillars. From the crest of the hill where
Jesus and His followers stood, it had the appearance of a massive structure
of snow, set with golden pinnacles. At the entrance to the temple was
a vine of gold and silver, with green leaves and massive clusters of grapes
executed by the most skillful artists. This design represented Israel as a
prosperous vine. The gold, silver, and living green were combined with
rare taste and exquisite workmanship; as it twined gracefully about the
white and glistening pillars, clinging with shining tendrils to their golden
ornaments, it caught the splendor of the setting sun, shining as if with
a glory borrowed from heaven.
Jesus gazes upon the scene, and the vast multitude hush their shouts,
spellbound by the sudden vision of beauty. All eyes turn upon the
Saviour, expecting to see in His countenance the admiration they themselves
feel. But instead of this they behold a cloud of sorrow. They
are surprised and disappointed to see His eyes fill with tears, and His
body rock to and fro like a tree before the tempest, while a wail of
anguish bursts from His quivering lips, as if from the depths of a broken
heart. What a sight was this for angels to behold! their loved Commander
in an agony of tears! What a sight was this for the glad throng
that with shouts of triumph and the waving of palm branches were
escorting Him to the glorious city, where they fondly hoped He was
about to reign! Jesus had wept at the grave of Lazarus, but it was in a
godlike grief in sympathy with human woe. But this sudden sorrow
was like a note of wailing in a grand triumphal chorus. In the midst
of a scene of rejoicing, where all were paying Him homage, Israel’s King
was in tears; not silent tears of gladness, but tears and groans of
insuppressible agony. The multitude were struck with a sudden gloom. Their
acclamations were silenced. Many wept in sympathy with a grief they
could not comprehend.
The tears of Jesus were not in anticipation of His own suffering.
Just before Him was Gethsemane, where soon the horror of a great
darkness would overshadow Him. The sheepgate also was in sight,
through which for centuries the beasts for sacrificial offerings had been
led. This gate was soon to open for Him, the great Antitype, toward
whose sacrifice for the sins of the world all these offerings had pointed.
Near by was Calvary, the scene of His approaching agony. Yet it was
not because of these reminders of His cruel death that the Redeemer
wept and groaned in anguish of spirit. His was no selfish sorrow. The
thought of His own agony did not intimidate that noble, self-sacrificing
soul. It was the sight of Jerusalem that pierced the heart of Jesus—Jerusalem
that had rejected the Son of God and scorned His love, that
refused to be convinced by His mighty miracles, and was about to take
His life. He saw what she was in her guilt of rejecting her Redeemer,
and what she might have been had she accepted Him who alone could
heal her wound. He had come to save her; how could He give her up?
Israel had been a favored people; God had made their temple His
habitation; it was “beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth.”
Ps. 48:2. The record of more than a thousand years of Christ’s guardian
care and tender love, such as a father bears his only child, was there. In
that temple the prophets had uttered their solemn warnings. There had
the burning censers waved, while incense, mingled with the prayers of
the worshipers, had ascended to God. There the blood of beasts had
flowed, typical of the blood of Christ. There Jehovah had manifested
His glory above the mercy seat. There the priests had officiated, and the
pomp of symbol and ceremony had gone on for ages. But all this must
have an end.
Jesus raised His hand,—that had so often blessed the sick and
suffering,—and waving it toward the doomed city, in broken utterances of
grief exclaimed: “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy
day, the things which belong unto thy peace!” —Here the Saviour
paused, and left unsaid what might have been the condition of Jerusalem
had she accepted the help that God desired to give her,—the gift of His
beloved Son. If Jerusalem had known what it was her privilege to know,
and had heeded the light which Heaven had sent her, she might have
stood forth in the pride of prosperity, the queen of kingdoms, free in
the strength of her God-given power. There would have been no armed
soldiers standing at her gates, no Roman banners waving from her
walls. The glorious destiny that might have blessed Jerusalem had
she accepted her Redeemer rose before the Son of God. He saw
that she might through Him have been healed of her grievous malady,
liberated from bondage, and established as the mighty metropolis of the
earth. From her walls the dove of peace would have gone forth to all
nations. She would have been the world’s diadem of glory.
But the bright picture of what Jerusalem might have been fades from
the Saviour’s sight. He realizes what she now is under the Roman yoke,
bearing the frown of God, doomed to His retributive judgment. He
takes up the broken thread of His lamentation: “But now they are
hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine
enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and
keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground,
and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone
upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”
Christ came to save Jerusalem with her children; but Pharisaical pride,
hypocrisy, jealousy, and malice had prevented Him from accomplishing
His purpose. Jesus knew the terrible retribution which would be visited
upon the doomed city. He saw Jerusalem encompassed with armies,
the besieged inhabitants driven to starvation and death, mothers feeding
upon the dead bodies of their own children, and both parents and
children snatching the last morsel of food from one another, natural
affection being destroyed by the gnawing pangs of hunger. He saw
that the stubbornness of the Jews, as evinced in their rejection of His
salvation, would also lead them to refuse submission to the invading
armies. He beheld Calvary, on which He was to be lifted up, set with
crosses as thickly as forest trees. He saw the wretched inhabitants suffering
torture on the rack and by crucifixion, the beautiful palaces destroyed,
the temple in ruins, and of its massive walls not one stone left upon
another, while the city was plowed like a field. Well might the Saviour
weep in agony in view of that fearful scene.
Jerusalem had been the child of His care, and as a tender father
mourns over a wayward son, so Jesus wept over the beloved city. How
can I give thee up? How can I see thee devoted to destruction? Must I
let thee go to fill up the cup of thine iniquity? One soul is of such
value that, in comparison with it, worlds sink into insignificance; but
here was a whole nation to be lost. When the fast westering sun should
pass from sight in the heavens, Jerusalem’s day of grace would be ended.
While the procession was halting on the brow of Olivet, it was not yet
too late for Jerusalem to repent. The angel of mercy was then folding
her wings to step down from the golden throne to give place to justice
and swift-coming judgment. But Christ’s great heart of love still pleaded
for Jerusalem, that had scorned His mercies, despised His warnings,
and was about to imbrue her hands in His blood. If Jerusalem would
but repent, it was not yet too late. While the last rays of the setting sun
were lingering on temple, tower, and pinnacle, would not some good
angel lead her to the Saviour’s love, and avert her doom? Beautiful and
unholy city, that had stoned the prophets, that had rejected the Son of
God, that was locking herself by her impenitence in fetters of bondage,—her
day of mercy was almost spent!
Yet again the Spirit of God speaks to Jerusalem. Before the day is
done, another testimony is borne to Christ. The voice of witness is lifted
up, responding to the call from a prophetic past. If Jerusalem will hear
the call, if she will receive the Saviour who is entering her gates, she
may yet be saved.
Reports have reached the rulers in Jerusalem that Jesus is approaching
the city with a great concourse of people. But they have no welcome
for the Son of God. In fear they go out to meet Him, hoping to disperse
the throng. As the procession is about to descend the Mount of Olives,
it is intercepted by the rulers. They inquire the cause of the tumultuous
rejoicing. As they question, “Who is this?” the disciples, filled with the
spirit of inspiration, answer this question. In eloquent strains they repeat
the prophecies concerning Christ:
Adam will tell you, It is the seed of the woman that shall bruise the
Ask Abraham, he will tell you, It is “Melchizedek King of Salem,”
King of Peace. Gen. 14:18.
Jacob will tell you, He is Shiloh of the tribe of Judah.
Isaiah will tell you, “Immanuel,” “Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty
God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isa. 7:14; 9:6.
Jeremiah will tell you, The Branch of David, “the Lord our
Righteousness.” Jer. 23:6.
Daniel will tell you, He is the Messiah.
Hosea will tell you, He is “the Lord God of hosts; the Lord is His
memorial.” Hosea 12:5.
John the Baptist will tell you, He is “the Lamb of God, which taketh
away the sin of the world.” John 1:29.
The great Jehovah has proclaimed from His throne, “This is My
beloved Son.” Matt. 3:17.
We, His disciples, declare, This is Jesus, the Messiah, the Prince of
life, the Redeemer of the world.
And the prince of the powers of darkness acknowledges Him, saying,
“I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God.” Mark 1:24.
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