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before us, Mary kneeling at his feet, wiping them with her long hair, and filling the house with the odour of the sweet perfume ; and let us remember this,—Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever : since with affectionate kindness He accepted her devoted love then, so will He accept now, and at all times, our love.
How imperfectly we love Him! How many things there are, that struggle against His love! There is ever rising up that murmur of Judas the Traitor, that what is spent in the Saviour's service might be better spent. Oh! Jesu, Lord, have mercy upon us. Make Thyself visible to our hearts and affections. Do Thou Thine own self strengthen and encourage us. Make it the object of our lives through all our difficulties, so to serve Thee, that Thou mayest bear this testimony to each one of us, “She hath done what she could.” Alas ! who may merit this. Could it be but written on our tombs with truth, no king, no conqueror could have an epitaph so glorious.
It was immediately known in Jerusalem, that Christ was in Bethany, and the people flocked to see Him. It is written
John xii. 9. “Much people of the Jews therefore knew that He was there : and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus to death : because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.
Is there any madness, like the madness of a sinner's will ? He knows the truth, but he forces it from him, he would hide it from the light. Lazarus stood before the priests, a living witness that Jesus must be the Lord of life. They had seen that the grave had no power to hold the dead, when His voice bade them rise; yet into the grave they would force Lazarus back again. They dared to consult together how they might put him to death, as well as Jesus, and hide them both, to be no more an hindrance to them, for well they knew, that if Christ prevailed, their power was gone.
Who can fight against God ? “or who that tries the unequal strife shall prosper in the end."
These Chief Priests with all their pride of heart, their stubborn will, their hatred and their malice, could not delay one moment the hour which was now at hand. The clouds might as well try to hide or force back the rising sun. The time was come. Jesus the King of Righteousness, the Prince of Peace, must take possession of his kingdom. The crown awaits Him, and joyfully did the people hail their Messiah King. Oh, little did they guess the painful path He was to tread before He reached His throne of Glory! They would have shrank back in terror, for they knew not yet that the first step of the Messiah's kingdom was to death; they understood not that He must be the sacrifice that had been daily pictured to them by the bleeding lambs upon their altars, before He could be their King. He must first pay the debt, then would he set his people free.
The Lord Jesus seems to have remained all the first day of the week in Bethany,* and when we consider how very near this village is to Jerusalem, we shall easily understand that crowds would be continually passing to and fro to see Him, and “Lazarus also whom he had raised from the dead." Above two million persons were assembled together to keep the Passover.t
* See Mimpriss's Diss. i. p. 18, vol. iii. + Josephus, says, that the numbers were taken by the High Priest, at the desire of Cestius, for the information of the Emperor Nero ; and it was found that 2,700,000 persons were in Jerusalem at one Passover, who were fit to partake of to Jerusalem, took branches of palm-trees, and went forth to the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb. Foreigners, even those who came up to Jerusalem to worship, are not reckoned in this number, neither are those who had the leprosy, or were in any way ceremonially unclean ; still there must have been a vast number, both of strangers, and of disqualified persons : therefore, even when we make due allowance for the desire of Josephus, to give a grand idea of his nation; we must still conclude, that Jerusalem did in all, at the time of the Passover, contain at least from two to three millions of people. The census alluded to, and the manner of taking it, is given in the vith Book, ixth Section, of Josephus.
A feverish impatience filled the minds of all. The set time was come, to which the prophets bad bade them look, and their need was great, for every year the Romans oppressed them more and
Now or never they must be delivered, and where was their Messiah ? * In raising up Lazarus, Jesus had broken the power of the grave, He had conquered death, why then should He not prevail over the Romans ;-mighty and terrible though they were, they were yet but men. How should they be able to stand before one who claimed to Himself the power of God ? These were truths, and from the believing disciples they spread among the multitudes. For one short hour the people of Judea knew their King, and they flocked to meet Him, to bring Him in triumph to Jerusalem, the holy city chosen by God, the fitting dwelling-place for the Messiah, the son of David. Jesus knew how short a time this joy in Him would last ; but it was part of the plan which had been from the beginning, that He should, before He yielded Himself into the hands of His enemies, publicly show to all the world that He did indeed claim to be the Messiah King of Israel. There had been times before, when He had bidden His followers to be silent ; but by His conduct now, once and for ever, He set at rest the question, by encouraging the people to hail Him as their long-looked-for King. It is written
Verses 12, 13. “On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming
* 2 Kings vi. 6.
JOHN XII. 13. MATT. XXI. 1. LUKE XIX. 30–34. MARK XI. 6. 11
meet him, and cried, Hosannah : Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
Attended by His disciples and the crowds that had gathered into Bethany, Christ set out for Jerusalem. Bethany lies on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives ; nearer to Jerusalem lay the little village of Bethphage, nothing of which now remains except a few fig-trees once growing in such abundance there as to cause the village to be named Bethphage, the place of figs. As He drew near to the Mount of Olives, the Lord Jesus was careful to fulfil His Father's will, which long before had been declared by the prophets.
Matthew xxi. 1–5. “And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her, loose them and bring them unto me. (St. Mark and St. Luke especially mention this.) All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Zion, Behold thy king cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.”
LUKE xix. 30–34. a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat, and (said the Lord) if any man ask you, “ Why do you loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. And they that were sent, went their way, and found even as he had said unto them. And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? And they said, The Lord hath need of him.
MARK xi. 6. “And they let them (the colt and its mother)
Who shall hold back that of which the Lord hath need? And who may
think themselves too mean to be used in the Lord's
We look upon
service, when we find Him thus declaring that He had need of the ass and her colt, that had been tied up by her masters, “at a place where two ways met,” waiting no doubt for work of different sort !
Matt. xxi. 6–9. “And the disciples brought the ass, and (Mark xi. 7.) the colt to Jesus, and they cast their garments (LUKE xix. 35.) upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way,-others cut down branches from the trees, and strewed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.”
In the warm climates of the East, the ass is a very different animal from what we see it in our own country. it as only fit for labour of the commonest sort, and ill-fed and ill-treated, as it too often is, it is little fitted for anything else; but farther south, it is a handsome and well-shaped animal, free of step, and gentle in temper. Instead of being despised, it was highly valued among the Jews, and in times of peace was used by men of rank, instead of horses.* Thus, when the Lord Jesus mounted upon “ the colt whereon yet never man had sat,” † He in no way lowered the dignity of the entry He was about to make into Jerusalem.
Thus mounted, and thus attended, He reached and crossed the heights which over-looked the city.
LUKE xix. 37. “ And when He was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of * The ass was in Israel the emblem of peace, and the horse, of war ; and we find the people of Israel often blamed, for bringing horses out of Egypt, and putting too much trust in their strength and fleetness.
+ Animals that had never been used, were looked upon as pure and unblemished ; and for that reason were especially chosen for sacrifices. Deut. xxi, 3.