So the disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them.
I. THE KING'S TRIUMPH. Few spectators would see anything kingly in this rustic fete. To the ruling classes of Jerusalem it would seem but child's play. But to the childlike followers of Jesus it had a deep meaning. These Galilaean pilgrims recognized in it the acceptance by Jesus of his royal rights. The question arises - Were they mistaken? He was riding in triumph to Jerusalem. But it was a simple, homely, unconventional triumph. Moreover, it did not lead to the throne, but its promise ended at Calvary, or seemed to end there. We know that the issue was disappointing to the early disciples (Luke 24:21). Nevertheless, we also know that, with Jesus, the way to death was the way to victory. He was most kingly when he suffered most. His Passion was his coronation. He reigns now in the hearts of his people, just because he died for them.
II. THE PEOPLE'S ENTHUSIASM. Long suppressed emotions now break forth into unrestrained utterance. It seems to be impossible to do too much, in the hastily improvised procession, to show devotion to the Christ. This is expressed in two ways.
1. By actions. Garments laid on the animal he rides, garments flung on the road for the honour of being trampled on, sprigs from the wayside trees scattered on the ground, palm branches waved overhead, - these things show the utmost enthusiasm. Strong feeling must manifest itself in action.
2. By words. The people quoted a well known Messianic psalm, praying for a blessing on the Christ. Their words had nearly the same meaning as our "God save the king!" and they were prompted by an overmastering passion of enthusiasm. This is not at all wonderful. The only wonder is that there was but one Palm Sunday, and that our Lord's last Sunday on earth before his death. To know him is to see grounds for unbounded devotion, for love beyond measure, for glad praises which no words can contain. This is the great distinction of our Christian faith, its keynote is enthusiasm for Christ.
III. THE CITY'S WONDER. The happy, noisy procession was heard in Jerusalem, and the citizens looked up from their trades and forgot their bargaining for a moment, in surprise at the unexpected commotion. We may preach the gospel by singing the praises of Christ. One reason why the world is apathetic about Christianity is that the Church is apathetic about Christ. A fearless enthusiasm for Christ will arouse the slumbering world. But we want to go further. In Jerusalem the effect was but slight and transitory. A deeper and more permanent impression was made at Pentecost; for it is the coming of the Holy Spirit, and no merely external excitement, that really touches and changes the hearts of people. Yet even this did not move the greater part of Jerusalem. Rejecting the peaceful coming of Christ, hardened sinners await his next coming, which is in wrath and judgment. - W.F.A.
They feared the multitude, because they took Him for a prophet.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
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