Luk_19:37-38. And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the Disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
DURING the greater part of our Lord’s ministry upon earth, he abstained, for the most part, from an avowal of his Messiahship, especially when conversing with the Scribes and Pharisees: he rather left it to be inferred from his words and actions, than asserted it in plain terms. Two reasons he had for this reserve: one was, to prevent his zealous followers from proclaiming him a king; and the other was, to keep the wrath of his enemies from breaking forth to the uttermost, before he should have finished the work which God had given him to do. Now, however, the time being come for him to return to his Father, he openly acknowledged himself to be that King, of whom the Prophet Zechariah had spoken, saying, “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 [Note: Zec_9:9.].” In general, the fulfilment of prophecy was left to the course of events: but here our Lord himself directed the events which were to accomplish the prediction [Note: Mat_21:4-5.]. The acclamations of the multitude, at the time of his fulfilling this prophecy, will afford us a profitable subject for our present meditation. Let us consider,
The acclamations themselves—
Doubtless the people at that time had abundant reason to rejoice—
[They had long seen the wonderful works which the Lord Jesus had done; and more especially a most stupendous miracle just wrought—the restoring of Lazarus to life, after he had been dead four days. This carried to the minds of multitudes a more than ordinary conviction of Christ’s Messiahship; because Lazarus went in and out before them, a living witness of his power: and so universal was this impression, that “the chief priests consulted to put Lazarus to death [Note: Joh_12:9-10.],” in order to remove from before their eyes an evidence which they could not withstand.
Persuaded that he was indeed the Messiah, they welcomed him with suitable expressions of admiration and love. They felt that it was an inestimable privilege to behold Him of whom Moses and the prophets had for so many ages spoken, and whom many prophets and kings had in vain desired to see.]
The particular expressions of their joy must be distinctly noticed—
[They were the very terms which David, a thousand years before, had suggested as suited to the occasion [Note: Psa_118:25-26.]. How far the people used them in their highest sense, we cannot exactly declare. We fear their views of him were too carnal to admit of their entering into the full import of the Psalmist’s words. Yet, even in their view of them, the sending of the Messiah was justly deemed an evidence of God’s good-will towards them; and they did well in rendering unto God the utmost possible tribute of adoration and thanksgiving.]
But, not to occupy our time with that which merely concerned them, let us consider,
What reason we also have for similar expressions of joy—
That Jesus is come to us, we can have no doubt. We, therefore, have reason for more exalted joy; because,
The evidences of his Messiahship are to us more clear—
[We have all the same evidences that they had; except that they saw the miracles with their eyes, whilst we only hear of them by the report of others. Yet, when that report is duly considered, it will be found not a whit less satisfactory than ocular demonstration. Besides, we have an evidence which they could not have; an evidence far surpassing all other; namely, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ himself from the dead. On this, Jesus had, from the very beginning, rested the whole weight and evidence of his pretensions: “Destroy this temple; and in three days I will raise it up again.” This, we are told, “he spake respecting his body,” which he would raise from the grave the third day [Note: Joh_2:19-22.]. Knowing, therefore, that he has accomplished this, we can have no doubt who He is, or that he is “declared to be the Son of God with power, by his resurrection from the dead [Note: Rom_1:4.].”]
The nature of his kingdom is, by us, more fully understood—
[They, not excepting even his own Apostles, had an idea of a temporal Messiah, who should deliver them from the Roman yoke, and exalt their nation to greater power and splendour than ever they enjoyed even in the days of Solomon [Note: Act_1:6.]. But we know, that his kingdom is spiritual; and that he is come to deliver us from sin and Satan, death and hell. We have indeed in ourselves an evidence of his power. We know what it is to have “his kingdom set up within us;” to have both his enemies and ours bruised under our feet; and to be “brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” We, therefore, have proportionably greater reason to rejoice; because the benefits which we are taught to look for are so far beyond all that they had any conception of.]
The interest we have in him is also more deep and lasting—
[Many of them had been healed in their bodies; but we, even every one of us that welcomes him aright, have been healed in our souls, and have his healing work continually carrying on within us. They, whatever benefits they might receive, looked only to this life as the season for enjoying them. But we look to the eternal world, as the true and proper season for enjoying the fulness of his blessings. The commencement of them, indeed, we here possess, in pardon of sin, deliverance from its power, and in the manifestations of God’s love to our souls. But these are only earnests of our full inheritance, which we shall possess for ever in a better world.
I think, that when these considerations are duly weighed, we shall have no hesitation in adopting, in the highest possible sense, the acclamations that were used by them.]
Let me, however, add,
A word of caution—
[It is evident that the joy of that people was of a tumultuous kind: and I confess I am no friend to such expressions of piety amongst us. It was suited for them; but it is not so for us. Our joy in the Lord should be more intelligent, more humble, more quiet, more enduring.
We should have just views of Christ altogether, and of the whole work which he came to accomplish — — — We should have a deeper sense of our need of him, and of our utter undone state without him — — — We should have less of animal fervour, and more of that which is spiritual — — — And, with us, it should be not merely occasional, as called forth by some particular circumstance, but the daily and continued habit of our minds. In a word, ours should resemble rather the joy of the glorified saints above, who prostrate themselves on their faces before the throne, and rest not, day nor night, in ascribing glory to Him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb.]
A word of encouragement—
[If you truly glory in the Saviour as you ought to do, you will find Pharisees in abundance ready to condemn you for your zeal and love. One would have thought, that the reasons which that people had to exalt the Saviour were abundantly sufficient to justify them, even in the eyes of those who could not participate their joy. But envy is of a peculiarly malignant character: and they who have no piety themselves, hate to behold the exercise of it in others. Know, however, that if man condemn, God approves, the exercises of love; and that they who “confess Christ before men shall be confessed by him before God and all his holy angels.”] [Note: If this should be a subject for Christmas Day, the joy that is recommended may be contrasted with that which is so generally sought after at that season.]