Matthew 21:6


This was arranged by Christ, and enthusiastically promoted by his disciples. Here was a last glint of sunshine before the storm. The gladness of the scene is in strange contrast with the awful sequel. Palm Sunday ushers in Passion Week. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." While the evil day has not yet come, gladness and the assurance of victory may be the best preparation for it.

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.
"The multitude" were pleased with Christ and took Him for a prophet. The pleasure which our text indicates may be referred to wrong motives; they were glad to see others humbled and rebuked. We often repine at the superiority of those above us, and are gratified when any wound is inflicted on their vanity. Not that Christ desired by artful means to gain the favour of the inferior orders. Often in theological controversy men applaud not from love of the truth, but because some one has been repulsed. We take the supposition that the pleasure of the multitude, in part at least, was produced by the general tenor of Christ's preaching, and not by a triumphant exposure of the sins of their rulers. Let us examine into the causes from which it came to pass that discourses which were distasteful to the great amongst the Jews found acceptance with the multitude. No doubt reasons could be derived from the peculiar circumstances of the Jewish nation; their expectation of a temporal prince, which was stronger in the higher classes than in the lower. Had the lower classes been left to themselves, it is probable that the Christ who healed their sick would have been accepted. But this is true of our own day — the multitudes, as distinguished from others, have an interest in hearing the gospel. It gains a hold on them which makes them "take Christ for a prophet." Here it is that the Almighty has introduced one of those counterpoises which cause good and evil to be distributed with considerable equality notwithstanding the marked difference in human conditions. Wealth and learning are great advantages viewed in reference to the present life; but in regard to the other life the circumstances of their life facilitate their eternal good. The poor man has little to attach him to earth; the rich is surrounded by things that fascinate him, also there are prejudices against the gospel peculiar to the rich which the illiterate cannot share. The gospel sets the poor amongst princes; the rich and great cling to artificial distinctions. The poverty of Christ was an offence to the rich; it was an attraction to the poor. The gospel cannot reach the heart without supernatural power of the Holy Spirit; but if we take the doctrines of Christianity — the mediatorial work — imputation of righteousness — we might contend that the common people are in a better position than others to admit them. In the outcasts of society there is not found that haughty self-reliance; the gospel is more welcome to them. The Bible seems to have been composed with express reference to the poor. But we must not overlook the fact that those who took Christ for a prophet finally rejected and crucified Him. "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only."

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

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