Life Of Christ:
Christ Announces To St. Peter His Supreme Pastoral Charge
Private Life Of Jesus During His Ministry
Sorrow Caused To Jesus And Mary By The Persecution Of The Jews
Jesus Triumphantly Enters Jerusalem
Jews Lay Plans To Put Jesus To Death
The Last Supper
Farewell Discourse And Prayer Of Jesus
Jesus In The Garden Of Gethsemani
Treason Of Judas, And The Apprehension Of Jesus
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Jesus Triumphantly Enters Jerusalem
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
TOWARD evening, on the Friday before Palm Sunday, Jesus again went to Bethania. There a supper was prepared for Him in the house of Simon, and Lazarus was among the guests. Martha ministered to Our Lord, and Magdalen, for the second time, anointed Him with precious ointment. On Sunday morning, He started with His disciples for Jerusalem. On coming to Bethphage, a village near Mount Olivet, He sent two disciples before Him, saying: "Go into the village that is over against you, and immediately on your coming in thither, you shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her; loose them, and bring them to Me." (Matt. xxi. 2.) The disciples did as He ordered them, placed their garments on the colt, and seated Jesus on it. Thus He rode from the village of Bethphage to the city of Jerusalem, and His disciples accompanied Him.
Here consider the humility of Jesus. How simple and unpretending is His modest retinue! The King of kings comes riding, not upon a noble steed, but upon the much-despised ass, with head uncovered, with naked feet, accompanied by His poor, illiterate disciples, who constitute His sole attendance!
But why does Our Lord, in His formal entrance into Jerusalem, ride upon an unbroken animal, an ass's colt upon which no one has ever sat? To declare to us His preference for the uncontaminated soul, and His love to take up His abode in innocent hearts which have known no other owner but Him, and have not wasted their value and strength in the service of a sinful world.
Jesus having ascended Mount Olivet, He rode to an olive-tree, and, with His own hands, broke off one of its branches. This tree is shown to pilgrims even in our time. When His disciples saw this, they also broke branches off the trees, and, waving them in their hands, cried out: "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!" St. John adds: "A great multitude, that was come to the festival day, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm-trees, and went forth to meet Him, and cried : Hosanna, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel." (John xii. 12, 13.)
Learn the mysterious meaning of these fresh, green boughs. The olive branches remind us of the sweet and happy peace which Christ, by His atonement, obtained for redeemed and reconciled creation. The palm branches signify the glorious victory of Christ, and our victory through Him over sin, hell, and death. Such, too, is the meaning of the green branches, blessed by the Church each year, on Palm Sunday, with great solemnity, to be afterward borne in procession, and then kept in the homes of the faithful as an effective protection against the dangers of soul and body.
By this entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was fulfilled the prophecy of Zacharias: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem : behold thy king will come to thee poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." (Zach. ix. 9.)
But, alas, how fickle is human nature, how changeable the human heart! To-day the people give their long-expected Messias a triumphant reception, and after five short days these same people, who now shout hosannas in His favor, will cry out: "Crucify Him!" Our all-seeing Lord foresees this in the midst of the rejoicing, and He begins to grow sad and to weep, and says, looking at the fair city before Him: "If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace; but now they are hidden from thy eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, and thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round and straiten thee on every side, and beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee : and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone, because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation." (Luke xix. 42-44.)
Once before, Our Saviour had pronounced a similar ominous prediction about Jerusalem, and in bitter anguish of heart had said : " Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not! Behold, your house shall be left unto you desolate." (Matt. xxiii. 37, 38.) Now the hour is at hand when the ill-fated city will complete its crime by laying violent hands on the greatest of all the prophets, the Son of God Himself. And whilst the triumphant hosannas of the excited crowd are ringing in His ears, the whole dreadful picture of impending treachery, of imminent ruin and death, stands out clearly before His mental vision.
After weepingly contemplating the city for a while, Jesus proceeded through the valley of Josaphat to the golden gate, called thus from the gold leaf with which it was covered. It was on Mount Moria, to the east of the Temple, and opened on the shortest way to the latter. On account of its proximity to the Temple it was considered one of its gates, rather than an approach to the city. Usually it was closed. When the people, on the occasion of Our Lord's triumphant entry, stood still before its closed portals, the latter opened spontaneously at the approach of Jesus, to admit Him into the city. Although the golden gate was next to the Temple, He did not go to the latter at once, but rode through the principal streets of the city, to be seen and honored by all the inhabitants. "And when Jesus was come into Jerusalem, the whole city was moved, saying: Who is this? And the people said: This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth, in Galilee." (Matt. xxi. t o, 11.)
What were the feelings of the high-priests and scribes and Pharisees at these demonstrations? Only a few months before they had published a decree, forbidding the people to call Christ the Messias, and now the whole populace went out to greet Him as such ! Scarcely a week before they had proclaimed that any one knowing the place of His abode should manifest it, so that they might take Him captive; and now He rode triumphantly before their eyes, and they were unable to do anything against Him!
" And Jesus went into the Temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the Temple, and over-threw the tables of the money-changers, and the chairs of them that sold doves; and He saith to them: My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves." (Matt. xxi. 12, 13.) The zeal which Our Saviour showed against the profanation of His Father's house ought to put every Christian upon his guard against all unseemly behavior in the place of divine worship. Our churches are infinitely more holy than was the Temple of Jerusalem; they are in a special manner sanctified by the presence of God, who dwells therein. Jesus, who showed such zeal for His Father's honor in the Temple of Jerusalem; cannot be indifferent to the dishonor that is shown Him in a Christian church by the irreverence of those whose conduct there is unbecoming the sanctity of His house; nor can we doubt that He will one day punish the offence with the severity it deserves.
After Jesus had thus purified the sacred place, "there came to Him the blind and the lame in the Temple, and He healed them. And the chief priests and scribes, seeing the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying in the Temple, and saying: ' Hosanna to the Son of David,' were moved with indignation, and said to Him: Hearest Thou what these say ? And Jesus said to them: Yea; have you never read: Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings Thou hast perfected praise ?" (Matt. xxi. 14-16.)
Meanwhile, the crowds gathered about Jesus in the Temple, and raising His eyes to heaven, He prayed, and said: "Father, glorify THY name ! A voice therefore came from heaven : I have both glorified it and will glorify it again. The multitude therefore that stood and heard, said that it thundered. Others said: An angel spoke to Him. Jesus answered and said: This voice came not because of Me, but for your sakes." (John xii. 28-30.) Thus did the heavenly Father glorify His be-loved Son, thereby signifying to the Jews and Gentiles that He was the promised Messias. Do thou, too, praise and glorify Him with angels and men, joining in the chorus: "Blessed is He who cometh in the name of the Lord !"
On Palm Sunday, our blessed Lord, in His mercy and love, made a final effort to soften the stony hearts of the Jews. In deep humility, and overflowing with sympathy and compassion for man, He had come publicly into their city, had performed miracles before their eyes in the Temple, curing the lame and the blind, had preached to them all day, and had Himself and His doctrine con-firmed by a miraculous voice from heaven. And what were the fruits of this day of grace? Alas, how indescribably sad the results of His efforts! The scribes and the Pharisees were more hardened than ever in their in-credulity, while the few who did believe were too cowardly to avow their faith openly. Amongst this vast assembly of the great and wealthy Jerusalem, not one was found to offer shelter or food to Our Saviour when the day was over. He was therefore compelled to return to Bethania, and seek hospitality with His friend Lazarus and his devoted sisters. "And leaving them, He went out of the city into Bethania, and remained there." (John xxi. 17.)