"Thy King Cometh"
[This chapter is based on
Matt. 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19.]
"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
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.
[ Back ] [ Up ] [ Next ]