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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,
II. 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,
1. 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. 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."]
2. 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. 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.]
• John ii. 19-22.
f Rom. i. 4.
g Acts i. 6.
3. 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,
1. 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 accomplishWe 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.]
2. 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."]h
h 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.
OUR DUTY TOWARDS THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Luke xix. 40. I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
THE exercise of the affections is not only approved, but applauded, when earthly things are the objects of our pursuit: but, when the soul is attracted by heavenly objects, the livelier emotions of the mind are deemed enthusiasm; and even gratitude itself must restrain its voice, lest it incur the censure of the world. But, whatever construction may be put upon our conduct, or whatever difficulties we may be called to encounter in the discharge of our duty, we should study to approve ourselves to God, and to render unto him the honour due unto his name. At the time of our Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem "the whole multitude of his Disciples began to rejoice, and to praise God for all the mighty works that they had seen." But, acceptable as this tribute of praise was to God, it excited only envy and indignation in the breasts of the malignant Pharisees. They considered this display of their gratitude as a just ground for displeasure; and therefore desired our Lord to silence them; "Master," said they, "rebuke thy Disciples." Our blessed Lord, however, instead of rebuking, vindicated his Disciples; and declared, that if, from any motive whatever, they should be induced to withhold their grateful acknowledgments, they would do so to their eternal shame: "I tell you," &c.
In discoursing on these words, we shall,
a ver. 37.
I. Shew what obligations we lie under to magnify and adore the Lord
The Disciples at that time had abundant reason to praise his name
[They had seen the miracles he had wrought, and especially that of raising Lazarus from the grave after he had been dead four days: perhaps many of them had themselves experienced his power to heal. From what they had seen and heard, they were assured, that he was the Messiah so long promised to the world and they regarded his advent as the most wonderful expression of God's favour toward their whole nation. Could they then keep silence? Were they to be blamed for testifying their love to this august Personage, now that they saw him in the very act of fulfilling one of the most remarkable of all the prophecies? When they were thus highly privileged to witness, what "many prophets and kings had in vain wished to see and hear," would they not have been guilty of the basest ingratitude, if they had held their peace? If Abraham leaped for joy at a distant prospect of that period, should not they much rather?]
But our obligations to praise him are far greater than theirs
[We have a far clearer knowledge of the dignity of his person. They viewed him indeed as "a great prophet;" and on some occasions they seemed to have thought him more than human: but on the whole, they considered him as a mere man, though indeed the greatest of men. But we know him to be "God manifest in the flesh," even "God over all, blessed for everf." And shall we behold in him such adorable majesty and condescension, and yet withhold from him our tribute of praise?
We also are far better acquainted with the ends of his mission. The Disciples supposed that he was sent to instruct them more fully in the knowledge of God's will, to deliver them from the Roman yoke, and to make them a prosperous and happy people. But we know that he came to deliver us from the yoke of sin and Satan, to reconcile us to God by the death of his cross, to teach us, not by his word only, but by his Spirit, and finally, to save us with an everlasting salvation. Are not we then bound to bless and adore his name?
Moreover, we have a far deeper insight into the extent of his benefits. If the Disciples had seen their nation raised to universal empire, and enjoying uninterrupted peace and prosperity,
b John xii. 17, 18.
d Compare Zech. ix. 9. with John xii. 13-15.
c ver. 38.
e John viii. 56.
f 1 Tim. iii. 16. Rom. ix. 5. Heb. i. 3. Col. ii. 9.
they would have been well satisfied, and would have looked for nothing beyond it, especially if they themselves were exalted to the highest offices of dignity and power. But we look for
infinitely richer benefits at his hands. We expect the pardon of sin, and peace with God, and victory over our spiritual enemies, and " a kingdom that cannot be moved." Shall we then refuse to praise him?" If we should hold our peace, will not the very stones cry out against us?"]
This being clear, we shall proceed to,
II. Enforce our duty from some additional considerations
That we may be excited to rend the air with our acclamations and hosannas, let us consider,
1. How delightful a duty this is!
[It is justly observed by the Psalmist, that it is not only "a good," but also " a pleasant thing to be thankful." Who can doubt which were the happier, the disciples who shouted forth the praises of their Lord, or the Pharisees, who, with malignant jealousy, strove to silence them? Indeed, a devout and grateful spirit is a foretaste of heaven itself; and, as far as relates to the outward exercise of their affection, the Disciples on that occasion strongly resembled the heavenly hosts: they all were penetrated with fervent love to the same divine object, and exerted all their powers to magnify his name. Let us then, each in his place and station, be followers of them; and our happiness shall surely rise with our employment.]
2. How reasonable a duty it is!
[The Pharisees, if they had been asked the reason of their conduct, would doubtless have offered many specious arguments in vindication of themselves. They might have imputed the conduct of the Disciples to enthusiasm, ostentation, hypocrisy. They might have blamed Jesus for suffering them to raise such a tumult, and to endanger thereby the peace of the whole city. They might have ascribed his acquiescence to vain-glory, and a love of popularity, which did but ill accord with his pretensions to superior wisdom and humility. This would have appeared very satisfactory in their eyes; and they, like our modern Pharisees, would have arrogated to themselves the exclusive name of rational Christians. But we know on whose side reason was in the instance before us: and as long as infinite greatness, and unbounded goodness, deserve our admiration, so long will it be reasonable to bless and magnify our adorable Jesus with all our might.]
3. How necessary a duty it is!