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The Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem
August 18th, 1861 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass." Matthew 21:5 .
We have read the chapter from which our text is taken; let me now rehearse the incident in your hearing. There was an expectation upon the popular mind of the Jewish people, that Messiah was about to come. They expected him to be a temporal prince, one who would make war upon the Romans and restore to the Jews their lost nationality. There were many who, though they did not believe in Christ with a spiritual faith, nevertheless hoped that perhaps he might be to them a great temporal deliverer, and we read that on one or two occasions they would have taken him and made him a king, but that he hid himself. There was an anxious desire that somebody or other should lift the standard of rebellion and lead the people against their oppressors. Seeing the mighty things which Christ did, the wish was father to the thought, and they imagined that He might probably restore to Israel the kingdom and set them free. The Savior at length saw that it was coming to a crisis. For him it must either be death for having disappointed popular expectation, or else he must yield to the wishes of the people, and be made a king. You know which be chose. He came to Save others, and not to be made a king himself in the sense in which they understood him. The Lord had worked a most remarkable miracle, he had raised Lazarus from the dead after he had been buried four days. This was a miracle so novel and so astounding, that it became town talk. Multitudes went out of Jerusalem to Bethany, it was only about two miles distant, to see Lazarus. The miracle was well authenticated, there were multitudes of witnesses, it was generally accepted as being one of the greatest marvels of the age, and they drew the inference from it that Christ must be the Messiah. The people determined that now they would make him a king, and that now he should lead them against the hosts of Rome. He, intending no such thing, nevertheless overruled their enthusiasm that by it he might have an opportunity of performing that which had been written of him in the prophets. You must not imagine that all those who strewed the branches in the way and cried "Hosanna" cared about Christ as a spiritual prince. No, they thought that he was to be a temporal deliverer, and when they found out afterwards that they were mistaken they hated him just as much as they had loved him, and "Crucify him, crucify him," was as loud and vehement a cry as "Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." Our Savior thus availed himself of their mistaken enthusiasm for divers wise ends and purposes. It was needful that the prophecy should be fulfilled "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." It was needful again, that he should make a public claim to be the Son of David, and that he should claim to be the rightful inheritor of David's throne, this he did on this occasion. It was needful too, that he should leave his enemies without excuse. In order that they might not say, "If thou be the Messias, tell us plainly," he did tell them plainly. This riding through the streets of Jerusalem was as plain a manifesto and proclamation of his royal rights as could possibly have been issued. I think, moreover, and upon this I build the discourse of this morning, I think that Christ used the popular fanaticism as an opportunity of preaching to us a living sermon, embodying great truths which are too apt to be forgotten because of their spiritual character, embodying them in the outward form and symbol of himself riding as a king, attended by hosts of followers. We come to this as the subject of our sermon. Let us what we can lean from it. I. One of the first things we learn is this. By thus through the streets in state, Jesus Christ claimed to be a king. That claim had been to a great extent kept in the background until now, but ere he goes to his Father, when his enemies' rage has reached its utmost fury, and when his own hour of deepest humiliation has just arrived, he makes an open claim before the eyes of all men to be called and acknowledged a king. He summonses first his heralds. Twit disciples come. He sends forth his mandate "Go ye into the village over against you, and ye shall find an ass and a colt." He gathers together his courtiers. His twelve disciples, those who usually attended him, come around him. He mounts the ass which of old had been ridden by the Jewish lawgivers, the rulers of the people. He begins to ride through the streets and the multitudes clap their hands. It is reckoned by some that no fewer than three thousand people must have been present on the occasion, some going before some following after, and others standing on either side to see the show. He rides to his capital; the streets of Jerusalem, the royal city, are open to him, like a king, he ascends to his palace. He was a spiritual king, and therefore he went not to the palace temporal but to the palace spiritual. He rides to the temple, and then, taking possession of it, he begins to teach in it as he had not done before. He had been sometimes in Solomon's porch, but he was oftener on the mountain's side than in the temple; but now, like a king, he takes possession of his palace, and there, sitting down on his prophetic throne, he teaches the people in his royal courts. Ye princes of the earth, give ear, there is one who claims to be numbered with you. It is Jesus, the Son of David, the King of the Jews. Room for him, ye emperors, room for him! Room for the man who was born in a manger! Room for the man whose disciples were fishermen! Room for him whose garment was that of a peasant, without seam, woven from the top throughout! He wears no crown except the crown of thorns, yet he is more royal than you. About his loins he wears no purple, yet he is more imperial far than you. Upon his feet there are no silver sandals bedight with pearls, yet he is more glorious than you. Room for him: room for him! Hosanna! Hosanna! Let him be proclaimed again a King! a King! a King! Let him value his place upon his throne, high above the kings of the earth. This is what he then did, he proclaimed himself a King. II. Moreover, Christ by this act showed what sort of a king he might have been if he had pleased, and what sort of a king he might be now, if he willed it. Had it been our Lord's will, those multitudes who followed him in the streets would actually have crowned him there and then, and bowing the knee, they would have accepted him as the branch that sprung out of the dried root of Jesse him that was to come the ruler, the Shiloh among God's people. He had only to have said a word, and they would have rushed with him at their head to Pilate's palace, and taking him by surprise, with but few soldiers in the land, Pilate might soon have been his prisoner, and have been tried for his life. Before the indomitable valor and the tremendous fury of a Jewish army, Palestine might soon have been cleared of all the Roman legions, and have become again a royal land. Nay, we aver it, with his power of working miracles, with his might by which he drove the soldiers back, when he said, "I am he;" he might have cleared not only that land but every other, he might have marched from country to country, and from kingdom to kingdom, till every royal city and every regal state would have yielded to his supremacy. He could have made those that dwelt in the isles of the sea to bow before him, and they that inhabit the wilderness could have been bidden to lick the dust. There was no reason, O ye kings of the earth, why Christ should not have been mightier than you. If his kingdom had been of this world, he might have founded a dynasty more lasting than yours, he might have gathered troops before whose might your legions would be melted like snow before the summer's sun, he might have dashed to pieces the Roman image, till, a broken mass, like a potter's vessel shivered by a rod of iron, it might have been dashed to shivers. It is even so, my brethren. If it were Christ's will, he might make his saints, everyone of them, a prince, he might make his Church rich and powerful, he might lift up his religion if he chose, and make it the most magnificent and sumptuous. If it were his will, there is no reason why all the glory we read of in the Old Testament under Solomon, might not be given to the Church under David's greater Son. But he does not come to do it, and hence the impertinence of those who think that Christ is to be worshipped with a gorgeous architecture, with magnificent vestments, with proud processions, with the alliance of states with churches, with making the bishops of God magnificent lords and rulers, with lifting up the Church herself, and attempting to put upon her shoulders those garments that will never fit her, vestments that were never meant for her. If Christ cared for this world's glory, it might soon be at his feet. If he willed to take it, who should raise a tongue against his claim, or who should lift a finger against his might! But he cares not for it. Take your gewgaws elsewhere, take your tinsel hence, he wants it not. Remove your glory, and your pomp, and your splendor, he needs it not at your hands. His kingdom is not of this world, else would his servants fight, else were his ministers clothed in robes of scarlet, and his servants would sit among princes, he cares not for it. People of God, seek not after it. What your Master would not have, do not court yourselves. Oh! Church of Christ what thine husband disdained, do thou disdain also. He might have had it, but he would not. And he read to us the lesson, that if all these things might be the Church's, it were well for he to pass by and say, "These are not for me I was not meant to shine in these borrowed plumes." III. But thirdly, and here lies the pith of the matter, you have seen that Christ claimed to be a king; you have seen what kind of a king he might have been and would not be, but now you see what kind of a king he is, and what kind of a king claimed to be. What was his kingdom? What its nature? What was his royal authority? Who were to be his subjects? What his laws? What his government? Now you perceive at once from the passage taken as a whole, that Christ's kingdom is a very strange one, totally different from anything that ever has been seen or ever will be seen besides. It is a kingdom, in the first place, in which the disciples are the courtiers. Our blessed Lord had no prince in waiting, no usher of the black rod, no gentlemen-at-arms who supplied the place of those grand officers? Why a few poor humble fishermen, who were his disciples. Learn, then, that if in Christ's kingdom you would be a peer you must be a disciple; to sit at his feet is the honor which he will give you. Hearing his words obeying his commands, receiving of his grace this is true dignity, this is true magnificence. The poorest man that loves Christ, or the humblest woman who is willing to accept him as her teaches, becomes at once one of the nobility that wait upon Christ Jesus. What a kingdom is this which makes fishermen nobles, and peasants princes while they remain but fishermen and peasants still! This is the kingdom of which we speak, in which discipleship is the highest degree, in which divine service is the patent of nobility. It is a kingdom, strange to say it, in which the king's laws are none of then written upon paper. The king's laws are not promulgated by mouth of herald, but are written upon the heart. Do you not perceive that in the narrative Christ bids his servants go and take his royal steed, such as it was, and this was the law, "Loose him and let him go?" but where was the law written? It was written upon the heart of that man to whom the ass and the foal belonged, for he immediately said, "Let them go" cheerfully and with great joy; he thought it a high honor to contribute to the royal state of this great King of peace. So, brethren, in the kingdom of Christ you shall see no huge law books, no attorneys, no solicitors, no barristers who have need to expound the law. The law-book is here in the heart, the barrister is here in the conscience, the law is written no more on parchment, no more promulgated and written, as the Roman decrees were, upon steel and harass, but upon the fleshy tablets of the heart. The human will is subdued to obedience, the human heart is moulded to Christ's image, his desire becomes the desire of his subjects, his glory their chief aim, and his law the very delight of their souls. Strange kingdom this, which needs no law save those which are written upon the hearts of the subjects. Stranger still, as some will think it, this was a kingdom in which riches unsure no part whatever of its glory. There rides the King, the poorest of the whole state, for yonder King had not where to lay his head. There rides the King, the poorest of them all, upon another man's ass that he has borrowed. There rides the King, one who is soon to die; stripped of his robes to die naked and exposed. And yet he is the King of this kingdom, the First, the Prince, the Leader, the crowned One of the whole generation, simply because he had the least. He it was who had given most to others, and retained least himself. He who was least selfish and most disinterested, he who lived most for others, was King of this kingdom. And look at the courtiers, look at the princes! they were all poor too; they had no flags to hang out from the windows, so they cast their poor clothes upon the hedges or hung them from the windows as he rode along. They had no splendid purple to make a carpet for the feet of his ass, so they cast their own toil-worn clothes in the way, they strewed along the path palm branches which they could easily reach from the trees which lined the road, because they had no money with which to bear the expense of a greater triumph. Every way it was a poor thing. No spangles of gold, no flaunting banners no blowing of silver trumpets, no pomp, no state! It was poverty's own triumph. Poverty enthroned on Poverty's own beast rides through the streets. Strange kingdom this, brethren! I trust we recognize it a kingdom in which he that is chief among us, is not he that is richest in gold, but he that is richest in faith; a kingdom which depends on no revenue accept the revenue of divine grace; a kingdom which bids every man sit down under its shadow with delight, be he rich or be he poor. Strange kingdom this! But, brethren, here is something perhaps yet more exceeding wonderful, it was a kingdom without armed force. Oh, prince, where are thy soldiers? Is this thine army? These thousands that attend thee? Where are their swords? They carry branches of palm. Where are their accoutrements? They have almost stripped themselves to pave thy way with their garments. Is this thine host? Are these thy battalions? Oh strange kingdom, without an army! Most strange King, who wears no sword, but rides along in this midst of his people conquering and to conquer a strange kingdom, in which there is the palm without the sword, the victory without the battle. No blood, no tears, no devastation, no burned cities, no mangled bodies! King of peace, King of peace, this is thy dominion! 'Tis even so in the kingdom over which Christ is king to-day, there is no force to be used. If the kings of the earth should any to the ministers of Christ, "We will lend you our soldiers," our reply would be, "What can we do with them? as soldiers they are worthless to us." It was an ill day for the Church when she borrowed the army of that unhallowed heathen, the emperor Constantine and thought that would make her great. She gained nothing by it save pollution, degradation and shame, and that Church which asks the civil arm to help it, that Church which would make her Sabbaths binding on the people by force of law, that Church which would have her dogmas proclaimed with beat of drum, and make the fist or the sword to become her weapons, knoweth not what spirit she is of. These are carnal weapons. They are out of place in a spiritual kingdom. His armies are loving thoughts, his troops are kind words. The power by which he rules his people is not the strong hand and the stretched-out arm of police or soldiery, but by deeds of love and words of overflowing benediction he asserts his sovereign sway. This was a strange kingdom too, my brethren, because it was without any pomp. If you call it pomp, what singular pomp it was! When our kings are proclaimed, three strange fellows, the like of whom one would never see at any other time, called heralds, come riding forth to proclaim the king. Strange are their dresses, romantic their costume, and with sound of trumpet the king is magnificently proclaimed. Then comes the coronation and how the nation is moved from end to end with transport when the new king is about to be crowned! What multitudes crowd the street. Sometimes of old the fountains were made to flow with wine, and there was scarce a street which was not hung with tapestry throughout. But here comes the King of kings, the Prince of the kings of the earth; no mottled steed, no prancing horse which would keep at a distance the sons of poverty; he rides upon his ass, and as he rides along speaks kindly to the little children, who are crying, "Hosanna," and wishes well to the mothers and fathers of the lowest grade, who crowd around him. He is approachable; he is not divided from them; he claims not to be their superior, but their servant so little stately as a king, he was the servant of all No trumpet sounds he is content with the voice of men, no caparisons upon his ass, but his own disciple's garments, no pomp but the pomp which loving hearts right willingly yielded to him. Thus on he rides; his the kingdom of meekness, the kingdom of humiliation. Brethren, may we belong to that kingdom too; may we feel in our hearts that Christ is come in us to cast down every high and every proud thought, that every valley may be lifted up, and every hill may be abased, and the whole land exalted in that day! Listen again, and this perhaps is a striking part of Christ's kingdom he came to establish a kingdom without taxations. Where were the collectors of the King's revenue? You say he had not any; yes he had, but what a revenue it was! Every man took off his garments willingly; he never asked it; his revenue flowed freely from the willing gifts of his people. The first had lent his ass and his colt, the rest had given their clothes. Those who had scarce clothes to part with, plucked the branches from the trees, and here was state for once which cost no man anything, or rather for which nothing was demanded of any man, but everything spontaneously given. This is the kingdom of Christ, a kingdom which subsists not upon tithe, Church-rate or Easter dues, but a kingdom which lives upon the free-will offering of the willing people, a kingdom which demands nothing of any man, but which comes to him with a stronger force than demand, saying to him, "Thou art not under the law, but under grace, wilt thou not, being bought with a price, consecrate thyself and all that thou hast, to the service of the King of kings! Brethren, do you think me wild and fanatical in talking of a kingdom of this sort? Indeed, 'twere fanatical if we said that any mere man could establish such a dominion. But Christ has done it, and this day there be tens of thousands of men in this world who call him King, and who feel that he is more their King than the ruler of their Dative land; that they give to him a sincerer homage than they ever give to the beg beloved sovereign, they feel that his power over them is such as they would not wish to resist the power of love, that their gifts to him are an too little, for they wish to give themselves away, 'tis all that they can do. Marvellous and matchless kingdom! it's like shall never be found on earth. Before I leave this point, I should like to remark that apparently this was a kingdom in which all creatures were considered. Why did Christ have two beasts? There was an ass and a colt the foal of an ass; he rode on the foal of the ass because it had never been ridden before. Now I have looked at several of the commentators to see what they say about it, and one old commentator has made me laugh I trust he will not make you laugh too by saying, that Christ telling his disciples to bring the foal as well as the sea should teach us thee infants ought to be baptized as well as their parents, which seemed to me to be an argument eminently worthy of childish baptism. Thinking the matter over, however, I consider there is a better reason to be given, Christ would not have any pain in his kingdom, he would not have even an ass suffer by him, and if the foal had been taken away from its mother, there would have been the poor mother in the stable at home, thinking of its foal, and there would have been the foal longing to get back, like those oxen that the Philistines used when they took back the ark, and which went lowing as they went, because their calves were at home. Wondrous kingdom of Christ, in which the very beast shall have its share! "For the creature was made subject to vanity by our sin." It was the beast that suffered because we sinned, and Christ intends that his kingdom should bring back the beast to its own pristine happiness. He would make us merciful men, considerative even to the beasts. I believe that when his kingdom fully comes, the animal nature will be put back to its former happiness. "Then shall the lion eat straw like the ox, the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den." Old Eden's peacefulness, and the familiarity between man and the lower creatures, shall come back once more. And even now, wherever the gospel is fully known in man's heart, man begins to recognize that he has no right wantonly to kill a sparrow or a worm, because it is in Christ's dominion; and he who would not ride a foal without having its mother by its side, that it might be at peace and happy, would not have any of his disciples think lightly of the meanest creature that his hands have made. Blessed kingdom this which considereth even the berate! Doth God care for oxen? Ay, that he doth; and for the very ass itself, that heir of toil, he careth. Christ's kingdom, then, shall care for beasts as well as men. Once more: Christ, in riding through the streets of Jerusalem, taught in a public manner, that his kingdom was to be one of joy. Brethren, when great conquerors ride through the streets, you often hear of the joy of the people; how the women throw roses on the pathway, how they crowd around the hero of the day, and wave their handkerchiefs to show their appreciation of the deliverance he has wrought. The city has been long besieged; the champion has driven away the besiegers, and the people will now have rest. Fling open wide the gates, clear the road and let the hero come, let the meanest page that is in his retinue be honored this day for the deliverer's sake. Ah! brethren, but in those triumphs how many tears there are that are hidden! There is a woman who hears the sound of the bells for victory, and she says, "Ah! victory indeed, but I am a widow, and my little ones are orphans." And from the balconies where beauty looks down and smiles, there may be a forgetfulness for the moment of friends and kindred over whom they will soon have to weep, for every battle is with blood, and every conquest is with woe, and every shout of victory hath in it weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Every sound of trumpet because the battle is obtained, doth but cover over the cries, the sorrows, and the deep agonies of those that have been bereaved of their kinsfolk! But in thy triumph, Jesu, there were no tears! When the little children cried, "Hosanna," they had not lost their fathers in battle. When the men and women shouted, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord," they had no cause to shout with bated breath, or to mar their joys with the remembrance of misery. No, in his kingdom there is unalloyed, unmingled joy. Shout, shout, ye that are subjects of King Jesus! Sorrows ye may have, but not from him, troubles may come to you because you are in the world, but they come not from him, His service is perfect liberty. His ways are ways of pleasantness, and all his paths are peace.
"Joy to the world, the Savior comes, The Savior promised long; Let every heart prepare a tune, And every voice a song."
He comes wipe away your tears and not to make them flow, he comes to lift you from your dunghills and set you upon his throne, to fetch you from your dungeons and make you leap in liberty.
"Blessings abound wherein he reigns, The prisoner leaps to lose his chain; The weary find eternal rest, And all the eons of want are blessed."
Singular kingdom this! IV. And now I come to my fourth and last head. The Savior, in his triumphal entrance into the capital of his fathers, declared to us very plainly the practical effects of his kingdom. Now what are these? One of the first effects was that the whole city was moved. What does that mean? It means that everybody had something to say about it, and that everybody felt something because Christ rode through the street. There were some who leaned from the tops of their houses, and looked down the street and said to one another "Aha! Did ever you see such fool's play as this? Humph! Here is Jesus of Nazareth down here riding on an ass! Surely if he meant to be king he might have chosen a horse. Look at him! They call that pomp! There is some old fisherman has just thrown down his bad-smelling garment; I dare say it had fish in it an hour or two ago? "Look," says one, "see that old beggar throwing his cap into the air for joy!" "Aha!" say they, "was there ever such a ridiculous thing as that?" I cannot put it in such terms as they would describe it; if I could, I think I would. I should like to make you see how ridiculous this must have seemed to the people. Why, if Pilate himself had heard about it he would have said "Ah! there is nothing much to fear from that. There is no fear that that man will ever upset Caesar; there is no fear that he will ever overturn an army. Where are their swords? There is not a sword among them! They have no cries that sound like rebellion; their songs are only some religious verses taken out of the Psalms." "Oh!" says he, "the whole thing is contemptible and ridiculous." And this was the opinion of a great many in Jerusalem. Perhaps that is your opinion, my friend. The kingdom of Christ, you say, is ridiculous; you do not believe perhaps that there are any people who are ruled by him though we say that we own him as our King, and that we feel the law of love to be a law which constrains us to sweet obedience. "Oh," you say, "it is cant and hypocrisy." And there are some who attend where they have golden censers, and altars, and priests, and they say, "Oh! a religion that is so simple singing a few hymns, and offering extempore prayer! Ah! give me a bishop with a mitre a fine fellow in lawn sleeves that is the thing for me." "Oh," says another, "let me hear the peals of the organ; let me see the thing done scientifically, let me see a little drapery too; let the man come up clad in his proper garb to show that he is something different from other people; do not let him stand dressed as if he were an ordinary man; let me see something in the worship different from anything I have seen before." They want it clothed with a little pomp, and because if is not so they say "Ah! Humph!" They sneer at it, and this is all that Christ gets from multitudes of men who think themselves exceeding wise. He is to them foolishness and they pass by with a sneer. Your sneers will be exchanged for tears ere long sirs! When he comes with real pomp and splendor you will weep and wail, because you disowned the King of Peace.
"The Lord shall come! a dreadful form, With rainbow wreath and robes of storm, With cherub voice and wings of wind, The appointed Judge of all mankind."
Then you will find it inconvenient to have treated him with contempt. Others no doubt there were in Jerusalem who were filled with curiosity. They said "Dear me, whatever can it be? What is the meaning of it? Who is this? I wish you would come," they said to their neighbors, "and tell us the history of this singular man, we should like to know about it." Some of them said, "He is gone to the temple, I dare say he will work a miracle;" so off they ran, and squeezed and pressed, and thronged to see a marvel. They were like Herod, they longed to see some wonder wrought by him. It was the first day of Christ's coming too, and of course the enthusiasm might last some nine days if he would keep it up, so they were very curious about it. And this is all Christ gets from thousands of people. They hear about a revival of religion. Well, they would like to know what it is and hear about it. There is something doing at such-and-such a place of worship; well, they would like to go if it were only to see the place. "There is a strange minister says queer things; let us go and hear him. We had intended to go out" you know who I mean among yourselves "we had intended to go out on an excursion today," said you, "but let us go there instead." Just so, curiosity, curiosity; this is all Christ gets to-day, and he that died upon the cross becomes a theme for an idle tale, and he that is Lord of angels and adored of men, is to be talked of as though he were a Wizard of the North or some eccentric impostor! Ah! you will find it inconvenient to have treated him thus by-and-bye; for when he comes, and when every eye shall see him, you who merely curiously enquired for him shall find that he shall inquire for you, not with animosity but with wrath, and it shall be "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire." But anon the crowd there were some who were worse still, for they looked on the whole thing with envy "Ah!" said Rabbi Simeon to Rabbi Hillel, "the people were never so pleased with us. We know a great deal more than that impostor; we have read through all our religious books." "Don't you remember him," says one, "that when he was a boy he was rather precocious? You remember he came into the temple and talked with us, and since then he deceiveth the people," meaning by that he outshone them, that he had more esteem in the hearts of the multitude than they had, though they were prouder far. "Oh!" said the Pharisee, "he does not wear any phylactery, and I have made mine very large; I have made my garments almost all borders, so that they may be exceeding broad." "Ah!" says another, "I tithe my mint, my anise, and my cummin, and I stand at the corner of the street and blow a trumpet when I give away a penny, but yet people will not put me on an ass; they will not clap their hands and say, 'Hosanna' to me, but the whole earth is gone after this man like a parcel of children. Besides, think of going into the temple disturbing their betters, disturbing us who are making a show of our pretended prayers and standing in the courts!" And this is what Christ gets from a great many. They do not like to see Christ's cause get on. Nay, they would have Christ be lean that they might fatten themselves upon the plunder, they would have his Church be despicable. They like to hear of the falls of Christian ministers. If they can find a fault in a Christian man "Report it, report it, report it," say they. But if a man walk uprightly, if he glorifies Christ, if the Church increases, if souls are saved, straightway there is an uproar and the whole city is stirred, the whole uproar begins and is carried on by falsehoods, lying accusations, and slanders against the characters of Christ's people. In some way or other, men are sure to be moved, if they are not moved to laugh, if they are not moved to enquire, they are moved to envy. But blessed is it that some in Jerusalem were moved to rejoice. Oh! there were many who, like Simeon and Anna rejoiced to see that day, and many of them went home and said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." There was many a bedridden woman in the back streets of Jerusalem, that sat up in the bed and said, "Hosanna," and wished that she could get down into the street, that she might throw her old mantle in the way, and might bow before him who was the King of the Jews. There were many weeping eyes that wiped away their tears that day, and many mourning believers who began from that hour to rejoice with joy unspeakable. And so there are some of you that hear of Christ the King with joy. You join in the hymn; not as we have all joined with the voice, but with the heart.
"Rejoice, the Savior reigns, The God of peace and love When he had purged our stains. He took his seat above Rejoice, rejoice! Rejoice aloud, ye saints, rejoice!"
Such, then, the first effect of Christ's kingdom! Wherever it comes, the city is stirred. Do not believe the gospel is preached at all if it does not make a stir. Do not believe, my brethren, that the gospel is preached in Christ's way if it does not make some angry and some happy, if it does not make many enemies and some friends. There is yet another practical effect of Christ's kingdom. He went up to the temple and there at one table sat a lot of men with baskets containing pairs of doves. "Any doves, sir, any doves!" He looked at them and said, "Take these things hence." He spoke with a holy furore. There were others changing money as the people came in to pay their half shekel; he overturned the tables and set them all a-flying, and soon emptied the whole court of all these merchants who were making a gain of godliness, and making religion a stalking-horse for their own emolument. Now this is what Christ does wherever he comes. I wish he would come in the Church of England a little more, and purge out the sale of advowsons, get rid of that accursed simony which is still tolerated by law and purge out the men that are malappropriators, who take that which belongs to the ministers of Christ, and apply it to their own uses. I would that he would come into all our planes of worship, so that once for all it might be seen that they who serve God serve him because they love him, and not for what they can get by it. I would that every professor of religion could be quite clean in his own conscience that he never made a profession to get respectability or to get esteem, but only made it that he might honor Christ and glorify his Master. The spiritual meaning of it all is this We have no houses of God now; bricks and mortar are not holy, the places where we worship God are places of worship, but they are not the houses of God any longer than we are in them. We believe no superstition which makes any place holy, but we are the temple of God. Men themselves are God's temples, and where Christ comes he drives out the buyers and sellers, he expunges all selfishness. I will never believe that Christ, the King, has made your heart his palace till you are unselfish. Oh, how many professors there are who want to get so much honor, so much respect! As to giving to the poor, thinking it more blessed to give than to receive, as for feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, as for living for other people, and not for themselves they do not think of that. O Master, come into thy temple and drive out our selfishness, now come, turn out all those things which would make it convenient to serve Mammon by serving God; help us to live unto thee, and to live for others by living to thee, and not live unto ourselves! The last practical effect of our Lord Jesus Christ's kingdom was he held a grand levee; he had, if I may so speak, a drawing-room day; and who we be the people who came to attend him? Now, ye courtiers, the disciples, show up your nobility and gentry that are come to wait upon him. Here comes one man, he has a bandage over here, and the other eye has almost failed show him in, here comes another, his feet are all twisted and contorted show him in, here comes another limping on two crutches, both his limbs are disabled, and another has lost his limbs. Here they come and here is the levee. The King himself comes here and holds a grand meeting, and the blind and the lame are his guests, and now he comes, he touches that blind eye and light shines in; he speaks to this man with a withered leg, he walks; he touches two eyes at once, and they both see, and to another he says, "I will take away thy crutches, stand upright and rejoice and leap with joy." This is what the King does wherever he comes. Come hither this morning, I beseech thee, thou great King! There are blind eyes here that cannot see thy beauty. Walk, Jesu, walk among this crowd and touch the eyes. Ah! then, brethren, if he should do that, you will say, "There is a beauty in him that I never saw before." Jesu, touch their eyes, they cannot take away their own blindness, do thou do it! Help them to look to thee hanging upon the cross! They cannot do it unless thou dost enable them. May they do it now, and find life in thee! O Jesu, there are some here that are lame knees that cannot bend, they have never prayed; there are some here whose feet will not run in the way of thy commandments feet that will not carry them up where thy name is praised, and where thou art had in honor. Walk, great King, walk thou in solemn pomp throughout this house, and make it like the temple of old! Display here thy power and hold thy grand meeting in the healing of the lame and the curing of the blind "Oh!" saith one, "I would that he would open my blind eyes." Soul, he will do it, he will do it. Breathe thy prayer out now, and it shall be done, for he is nigh thee now. He is standing by thy side, he speaks to thee, and he saith "Look unto me and be thou saved, thou vilest of the vile." There is another, and he says "Lord, I would be made whole." He says "Be thou whole then." Believe on him and he will save thee. He is near you, brother, he is near you. He is not in the pulpit more than he is in the pew, nor in one pew more than in another. Say not "Who shall go to heaven to find him, or into the depths to bring him up?" He is near you; he will hear your prayer even though you speak not; he will hear your heart speak. Oh! say unto him "Jesus, heal me," and he will do it; he will do it now. Let us breathe the prayer, and then we will part. Jesus, heal us! Save us, Son of David, save us! Thou seest how blind we be oh, give us the sight of faith! Thou seest how lame we be oh, give us the strength of grace! And now, e'en now, thou Son of David, purge out our selfishness, and come and live and reign in us as in thy temple-palaces! We ask it, O thou great King, for thine own sake. Amen. And ere we leave this place, we cry again, "Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."
March 22nd, 1891 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried saying, Hosannna the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest." Matthew 21:9 .
After the miracle of the raising of Lazarus, a great fame went abroad concerning our Lord. He rested still at Bethany, and the people who came up to the feast in great number went out an easy walk from Jerusalem to Bethany to see Jesus, and to see Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead. These people, on a certain day, formed a company, and marched with Jesus towards Jerusalem. On the way our Lord sent two of his disciples to fetch an ass and its colt; and upon this last he rode into the city. Another crowd, coming out of Jerusalem, met the company attending upon Jesus, and, forming one great procession, the whole multitude marched into the city escorting the Lord Jesus in humble state, and paying him honor as King in Zion. Upon no stately war-horse, but riding upon a colt the foal of an ass, the meek and lowly King entered the city of David attended by vast and enthusiastic crowds, who strewed the fronds of palms, and the branches of trees, and their own garments in the way along which he rode. Our Lord thus received a right royal and popular reception to the metropolis of his nation. This was a strange event, so very different from anything else that happened to our Savior, that one wonders at it with great wonderment. That it is to be viewed as an important event is clear, since every one of the four Evangelists takes pains to record it (see Matthew 21:0 , Mark 11:0 , Luke 19:0 , and John 12:0 .). Even of certain of the greater events of our Lord's life the Holy Spirit has not preserved us four accounts; but since he has done so in this case, he thereby calls us to give the more earnest heed to it. Herein is a mine of teaching; let us dig into it. Assuredly, this honor paid to our Lord was passing strange; a gleam of sunlight in a day of clouds, a glimpse of summer-tide in a long and dreary winter. He that was, as a rule, "despised and rejected of men", was for the moment surrounded with the acclaim of the crowd. All men saluted him that day with their Hosannas, and the whole city was moved. It was a gala day for the disciples, and a sort of coronation day for their Lord. Why was the scene permitted? What was its meaning? The marvel is, that the like had not occurred before; for our Lord had healed many sick folk, and these and their friends must have felt favourably towards him. He had fed thousands at a time with the bread of this life, and hosts had been cheered and comforted by his teaching. The common people heard him gladly, and were ready to gather around him. Among an excitable people it was a wonder that they had not long ago taken him by force, and made him a king. No one had yet appeared so like the Messiah of their prophets; no one had so well deserved the people's gratitude. If they had from the first accepted him as their monarch, and if they had watched every opportunity of doing him homage, nobody could have been surprised. The marvel is, that the popular enthusiasm had been repressed so long. It was the Lord himself who had suppressed the popular enthusiasm. With great skill he had succeeded in bridling a dangerous fanaticism. He "did not strive nor cry, nor cause his voice to be heard in the streets"; and with such a cry, and such a voice as he had, the marvel was that he preserved quiet, and kept the nation from revolt. Had he withdrawn his hand, the people would have been eager to assail their foreign rulers. Had this been the errand on which he came, he might at any moment have been saluted as "the King of the Jews." He, with a masterly art, repressed everything that would have made him a popular hero. He uttered unpalatable truth, or he stole away from the scene of his miracles, or he kept himself in obscure villages, and thus he eluded their honors. When he had fed the multitudes, he took ship, and went to the other side of the lake that they might not follow him. Many men live for ambitious ends, but our Lord lived to escape the honors of men. The proud hunt after praise; but our Lord fled from preferment, hid himself from fame, and shunned the throne which by descent belonged to him. He often bade those whom he healed go home and tell no man what he had done; for the dense throngs that gathered about him rendered it difficult for him to move on his mission of mercy. "He went about doing good", and did not wait in any place to reap the laurels which his miracles had earned him. No wonder that at last the people felt forced to surround him with their praises. The pent-up fires of gratitude at last had vent. The covered flames of admiration leaped up at last, and cast a brilliant light over the old city. Men's hearts had been somewhat worse than diabolical if they had not felt a grateful enthusiasm for so grand a benefactor. No one before had ever so greatly blessed Judea; ten thousand voices felt it joy to cry "Hosanna" before such a one. It came at last, you see: I have read you the story in John and in Matthew. They saluted him with their shouts of loyal welcome. But there was little in the acclamation when it did come. There was great shouting for the while, and abundant strewing of branches, and lining of the road with garments; but there was little else. Remember what happened less than a week after awards! If not the same individuals, yet people of the same city cried, Crucify him, crucify him." The Hosannas may be very loud, but they will not be long. "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord" sounds very sweetly; but how much more vehement will be the cry, "Let him be crucified"! Everything which comes to Jesus and his cause by popular acclamation, requires to be duly weighed; and when weighed it will be found wanting. "Vox populi, vox Dei" they used to say; but the saying is false: the voice of the people may seem to be the voice of God when they shout "Hosanna in the highest"; but whose voice is it when they yell out, "Crucify him, crucify him"? "Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie." So little value did our Lord place on popular applause that he repressed it; and when it did burst forth, so little did it elevate his spirit that we find him in the midst of it, gazing upon the city with tears in his eyes. While others were glad, he was weeping for the woes which his prophetic eye foresaw. The throng was carried away by the present moment and the enthusiasm of the hour; but his heart was anticipating that dreadful day when they would find his blood upon them and upon their children, and the Romans would utterly destroy their city, and quench the light of Zion in rivers of blood. It may be well that an enthusiastic admiration of religion should be professed by the multitude; but it is not more stable than smoke. It may seem good that the Christian minister should be popular, but popularity is lighter than vanity. Once the Savior rides in state as a King, but soon he walks down those very streets bearing his cross like a criminal. How soon is the public voice purchased for evil! What dependence can be placed on the clamor of the streets? We, however, have the story placed before us four times by the Evangelists, and therefore let us now give it our attentive consideration. May the good Spirit impart instruction to us by this strange stir and singular scene! May some divine impulse come to us out of this riding of our lowly King into Jerusalem! First, I shall ask you to think of Christ triumphant in Jerusalem. Secondly, I shall bid you see herein Christ glorified in his church; and then, thirdly, we will think of Christ entering into the heart. Under these three divisions we may arrange our thoughts, and, God helping us, we may meditate to profit. I. First, I ask you to view CHRIST TRIUMPHANT IN JERUSALEM. Why this procession? Why these shouts of homage? Our Lord always had a reason, and an excellent one, for all that he arranged or permitted. What meant he by this? How shall we interpret the scene? I think it was, first, that he might most openly declare himself. He had frequently avowed his mission in plain speech; he had told them who he was, and why he came; but they would not hear; so that they dared to say to him, "If thou be the Christ tell us plainly." He had plainly told them times without number. Now he will assure them still more positively of his kingdom by openly riding into the city of Jerusalem in state. Now shall they see that he claims to be the Messiah, sent of God, of whom the prophet said, "Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh." Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings shall his fame be proclaimed; multitudes of people shall acknowledge with loud voices that "he cometh in the name of the Lord"; until the envious Pharisees shall be driven to ask, "Hearest thou what these say?" You will remember that our Lord rode into Jerusalem as a King, but he was also brought there as the Lamb of God's passover, whose blood must save the people. It was not meet that the Lamb of God should go to the altar without observation; it was not fit that he who taketh away the sin of the world should be led to the temple unobserved. The day was near when he was to be offered up, and all eyes were called to look on him and know who and what he was. Therefore he permitted this great gathering and this honorable attention to himself, that he might say to Israel, by deeds as well as by words, "I am he that should come. I am he who of old had said, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God." Thus he beyond all question manifested himself to the people. When they crucified him the rulers knew what he professed to be. Albeit many of them were in ignorance as to the truthfulness of his claims, yet they knew right well that they were crucifying one who professed to be the Lord of glory, one who was acknowledged to be the Son of David, one who had in public avowed himself to be King in Zion. I think this was one reason for the joyous entry into the city of God. Next, it was our Lord's public claiming of authority over Israel. He was the son of David, and therefore he was by natural right the King of the Jews. If he had taken possession of his own he would have been sitting on the throne of the chosen dynasty of David by right of birth. He was, moreover, as the Messiah, and Christ, the King of his people Israel. Concerning him it had been said by the prophet, "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." Our Lord Jesus literally came to Zion in this manner. As King he rode to his capital, and entered his palace. In his priestly royalty the Son of God went to his Father's house, to the temple of sacrifice and sovereignty. Among the tribes of Israel is he seen to be "one chosen out of the people," whom the Lord had given to be a leader and commander for the people. Although they might afterwards choose Barabbas, and cry that they had no king but Caesar, yet Jesus was their King, as Pilate reminded them, when he said, "Shall I crucify your king?" and as his cross declared when it bore the legal inscription, "This is Jesus the King of the Jews." Before his trial and his condemnation he had put in a public claim to the rights and prerogatives of Zion's king, whom God has set upon his holy hill. Would to God all my hearers fully recognized our Lord's kingdom, and yielded to his sway! Oh, that you would bow before him, and put your trust in him! Part of his intent in riding through Jerusalem was that we also who dwell in the isles of the sea might know him and reverence him as King of kings and Lord of lords. Let each one cry in his inmost soul
Great King of Grace, my heart subdue, I would be led in triumph too, A willing captive to my Lord, To sing the victories of his word."
Possibly our Savior intended, also, by this singular procession, to let his enemies know his real strength among the people. If he could gather so great a crowd of adherents without any summons or prearrangement, surely the whole population must have been, to a large degree, in his favor. If such an enthusiastic reception was spontaneously given him, how many would have gathered if a plan had been arranged? Had he agreed to lead them against the Romans, thousands of fanatics would have followed his banner. If he had designed to make himself a king, and had permitted his servants to fight, the old fierce courage of the Jewish race would have burned up like a flame of fire, and his enemies would have fled before him. He came not with war in his heart, but he would let the foeman see the hilt of the sword which he might have drawn from its sheath: he would let scribe and Pharisee bite their lips, while they said, "Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him." If the Savior had willed to use the baser methods that men nowadays would freely employ, by asking the world's alliance, he might have made himself a King at once. Had he blended politics with religion, and yielded something to general prejudice, he might at once have set up a worldly kingdom. But no, he knew no selfish ambition, his kingdom was not of this world; he came not that he might be honored here, but that he might be put to shame for our redemption. The diadem to which he aspired was a crown of thorns; yet he lets his adversaries see that he was not lowly because he was weak, nor gentle because he was feeble. They might, if they would, have seen by that day in Jerusalem the greatness of the self-denial which abstained from earthly honors. Nor have I exhausted the Savior's reasons. We are told by the Evangelist that he did this that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet. I have just now quoted the text from Zechariah 9:9 . Our Lord was ever careful and earnest to fulfill each prophecy of Holy Scripture. He held the inspired Word in high esteem, and was careful of each letter of it. You never hear a word from him derogatory of the inspiration, authority, accuracy, or infallibility of the law and the prophets. He fulfils the Word of the Lord even to its jots and tittles. He directed his life by that old chart, in which the way of the Messiah was laid down long before he came to earth. Oh, for the same reverence of Scripture among preachers nowadays! God forbid that we should be lowering men's ideas of inspiration, as some are fond of doing. May we value every word which came from the Lord in old time! May we willingly change the course of our thought and teaching rather than neglect a single word of inspiration! When we see what the will of the Lord is, let us follow it implicitly. Obedience to the rule of Scripture was the way of the Head; it should also be the way of the members. If the King himself is careful in his walk towards the Word, surely we ought to be. I think also that as our Lord thus looked back and fulfilled Scripture, he was looking forward to give us a prophetic type of the future. Beloved, our Lord will not always be rejected. There are days of triumph for him. "The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner." This is the age of iron, but there comes a golden age of love and light. We look for his appearing and his reign; his reign of peace and joy. There will come a day when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. He shall sit upon the throne of his father David, and of his kingdom there shall be no end. The Lord shall reign for ever and ever. Hallelujah! Hath not Jehovah said to him, "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession"? Yes, there will come a day when he that was the reproach of men shall be the glory of his people. Kings shall bow down before him. All generations shall call him blessed. When I see that joyful procession going up the hill to Zion; and mark how they that went before joined with those who followed after, while the King himself rode in the center, I seem to see a rehearsal of the long succession of the faithful in all ages. The prophets have gone before him: hark to their loud Hosannas! We come behind him, even we upon whom the ends of the earth have come, and we have our glad Hosannas, too! Here patriarchs join with apostles, prophets are one with martyrs, and priests keep rank with pastors and deacons, all with one voice lifting up the self-same note, "Hosanna! blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." We see, then, in the simple state of our Lord in the streets of Jerusalem, a vision of the long glories which await him in the New Jerusalem, where he shall sit upon his throne, and his enemies shall be made his footstool. One thing more I cannot help mentioning: surely, our Lord allowed the populace a vent for their enthusiasm with the desire to delight his friends. Do you not think that the sympathetic Jesus thought it worth while to give his little band of followers what our forefathers would have called "a gaudy day" a high day, a holiday? These had been with him in his humiliation, and he would give them a taste of his glory. They had seen him despised and rejected of men; and he relieved the monotony of his humiliation with a glimpse of his glory. For once they should be allowed to cast their garments under his feet and strong fragrant branches on his path. For once their zeal should have license to climb the trees and break down the boughs to strong his pathway. Nothing on that day filled their ears but the praises of their loved Lord and honored Master. They would soon have enough sorrow when they would see him seized in the garden and taken away bound to Caiaphas and Pilate to be condemned to die. He would give them a breathing space, an interval of pleasure, wherein their spirits should no longer drag on earth, but rise on wings, into a lofty joy. Our Lord loves his people to be glad. His tears he kept to himself, as he wept over Jerusalem; but the gladness he scattered all around, so that even the boys and girls in the streets of Jerusalem made the temple courts to ring with their merry feet and gladsome songs. Hear how they clap their hands with delight! "Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!" You hear it everywhere, and the Lord smiles as he sees the joy which pours in floods around him. The Lord loves to cast into our cup some drops of heaven's own honey, until the bitterness of grief is sweetened, and his followers are made happy by their joy in himself." Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King." I wish I could express myself in tones more clear and musical; but though bodily weakness compels me to be measured in my utterance, my soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit doth rejoice in God my Savior. May the Lord himself cast into your hearts the burning coals of joyful love to him, and so may your souls take fire, and blaze aloft with vehement flames of delight! May this day be to your spirits a day of palms and psalms, of prayers and praises, of Hallelujahs and Hosannas. Let us sing all day, as we sung in our opening hymn
Hosannah to th' anointed King, To David's holy Son! Help us, O Lord! descend and bring Salvation from thy throne.
Blest be the Lord, who comes to men With messages of grace; Who comes in God his Father's name, To save our sinful race.
Hosannah in the highest strains The church on earth can raise; The highest heavens, in which he reigns, Shall give him nobler praise.
II. Secondly, my text is to my mind a parable of CHRIST GLORIFIED IN HIS CHURCH. There are choice days when the shout of a King is heard in our assemblies. We have not yet fallen to a dull monotony of barrenness; we have hills like those of Carmel. The low-water mark of lukewarmness is covered deep beneath flood-tides of holy exultation. I am going to speak about these hallowed seasons. I think that such days come to the church of God after special miracles of grace have been wrought. Lazarus is raised from the dead, and when the people thus see the greatness of the Prophet of Nazareth, they begin to commend and extol him, and this leads on to holy excitement. If the Lord will be pleased to work remarkable conversions among us, we shall have grand times. If special instances of his gracious power are seen by us, we will bear our palms of victory before him, and many hearts shall enquire, "Who is this?" Our hearts shall rejoice as with the joy of harvest when we see the Lord saving great sinners; yea, we will shout as victors who divide the spoil. Do you not think that when Saul of Tarsus was converted, and the churches had rest, that they had also great exultation in their King? Everywhere it must have been talked of that the fierce Pharisee had become a bold preacher of the faith which once he sought to destroy. What joy there is in saintly hearts when ring-leaders in sin become champions for truth! Oh that our God would work such transformations in this city! Pray, my brothers and sisters, that the Lord would do the like for us, and for all his churches just now. Oh, for displays of his power to quicken the dead! Oh, for Lazarus to be raised, and to live among us as a wonder of grace whom neighbors would come to see! O Lord, give us this signal of delight! Let us see thine arm made bare in the eyes of all the people. Next, it was a time of testimony; for those who had been present, and had seen Lazarus raised from the dead, bore witness. One stepped forward and said, "With these eyes I saw Lazarus come forth from the tomb of rock." "As for me", said another, "I saw him buried, I helped to carry him to the grave; but I saw him come back to the house alive." "Yes", said a third, "I rolled away the stone, and as I stood watching for the result, I saw the dead man come forth alive, and I helped to loose his grave-clothes." All these bore witness to what they had seen. You cannot tell what a joyful effect it produces, and what enthusiasm is stirred, when one after another bears personal witness. Lord, open men's mouths! Lord, make the quiet ones to tell forth thy praise! Your silent tongues deprive us of our joy. Your cowardly reticence robs Christ of his glory and the church of its increase. If God has done anything for you, or you have seen him do anything for others, bear testimony to it. It is the Lord's due, and your duty, that you should speak to the glory of Christ Jesus. When great wonders have been done, and those who saw them are willing to bear their testimony "hereunto, then we may look for red-letter days, wherein gladness and praise shall be in the ascendant. It was a good sign, too, of joy to come, that the enemies were now raging worse than ever. They sought to kill both Jesus and Lazarus. If the devil never roars the church will never sing. God is not doing much if the devil is not awake and busy. Depend upon it, that a working Christ makes a raging devil. When you hear ill reports, cruel speeches, threats, taunts, and the like, believe that the Lord is among his people, and is working gloriously. We look upon the "many adversaries" as one of the tokens that a great door and effectual is set before us. When we hear thunder we look for rain. Wrath in the lowest hell is a prognostic of Hosanna in the highest heaven. It is also a cheering sign when there is a general eagerness among the people concerning our Lord. When the disciples gather around their Master, and are prompt to do his bidding, then good times are come. When all agree, it is also well. When they that go before, and they that follow after, are all of the same mind, then is it a day of joy. When grey heads grow young, and young heads grow wise, it is a token for good. When the aged lift up their eyes to heaven, and say, "God, even our own God, shall bless us", things look well. When our matrons and our sires grow hopefully confident, and say, "The Lord has blessed us in days gone by, and he is going to bless us yet again", then the weather-glass points to "Set fair." When the younger sort, that follow after, who have been converted but lately, burn with a holy zeal, and cry, "We will give the Lord no rest until he bless us", then the sun of the church is shining high up in the sky. When we are all ready, each man, each woman ready, to take our share in the harvesting, then will the sheaves be garnered. It is cheering when the congregation shares the excitement with the church and its ministers, and the prospect of a divine blessing is before the mind of all who seek better things. Surely, the time to favor Zion, yea, the set time has come, when her King is longed for, and every heart beats high with love of him. The case is clear when all this is attended with an abounding generosity. It is well when disciples are not only willing to fetch another man's colt, but are willing to lay their own garments thereon; when they will not only gather palm fronds to strew the path, but will take off their own coats to carpet the way of the King. When everybody does something, or gives something, or at any rate joins in the hearty Hosannas, then is the King come into our midst. Our King is not where hearts are miserly and souls are selfish; but one token of his presence is that his people offer willingly unto the Lord. At such times believers feel that they are not their own, but are bought with a price; and things which once looked like sacrifices too great to be expected of them, are cheerfully presented as sacrifices of joy. Beloved, we must not forget that it is a token of God's having come to his church and of his having given her a joyful day, when the children share in it. Luther was greatly encouraged when he found that the children met together for prayer. He said, "God will hear them. The devil himself cannot defeat us now the children begin to pray." It is very beautiful to read Mr. Whitefield's remarks about his sermons at Moorfields and elsewhere in London, when mud and stones were cast upon him, and yet a group of children always surrounded his pulpit; and though some of them were hurt, yet he noticed how bravely they stood by him through the service. He thought it a token for good that children drank in his words. When God moves the children to earnestness, he will soon move their fathers and mothers. When boys and girls meet to praise God, do not despise their little meetings, nor say, "It is only a parcel of children." The children are in God's esteem the most precious portion of the race. He sets high store by his little ones, and he has set a special curse upon those who offend one of the little ones that believe in him. Jesus, Master, come, we pray thee! Come in thy lowly pomp, in all thy gentleness, and grace, and then will the children of these modern days sing loud Hosannas to thy name, like those in thy temple of old. I want you to notice in our text, that our Savior was received with the shout of Hosanna! The best interpretation I can give is "Save, oh, save! Save, oh, save!" Different nations have different ways of expressing their good will to their monarchs. A Roman would have shouted, "Io triumphe!" We sing, "God save our gracious Queen." The Persians said, "O King, live for ever." The Jews cried, "Hosanna!" "Save," or, "God save the King!" The French have their "Vivas," by which they mean, "Long live the man." Hosanna is tantamount to all these. It is a shout of homage, welcome, and loyalty. It wishes wealth, health, and honor to the king. In the Saxon we say, "Hurrah"; in Hebrew, "Hosanna." That mighty shout startled all the streets of the old city: "Hosanna, Hosanna, the King is come. Save him, O Lord! Save us through him! Long live the King!" While it was a shout of homage, it was also a prayer to the King. "Save, Lord; save us, O King! O King, born to conquer and to save, deliver us!" It was, moreover, a prayer for him "God save the King, God bless and prosper his majesty." Prayer also shall be made for him continually; and daily shall he be praised." We never cease to pray, "Thy kingdom come; thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Let us then cry, Hosanna, making it at once a loyal shout; a prayer to our King, and a prayer for him. All these things appear in the benediction which follows: "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest." Would it be amiss if we were to indulge in a hearty shout for our King? May we never grow enthusiastic? May we never overleap the bounds of prim propriety? Shall we never cry Hallelujah! Shall no Hosannas burst from our lips? Surely, if our King will come into the midst of his church again, and end these black days of doubt, we must and will shout, or else the very stones will cry out, Yes, O Lord Jesus, thou shalt have our Vivas: we will shout, "Long live the King!
"All hail the power of Jesus' name! Let angels prostrate fall."
Nor will we cease to pray to thee! Some of you that have not yet been saved by him will, I trust, say, "Save me, Lord! O Jesus, save me!" You will not disturb but delight the present meeting if you will in your hearts cry, "Lord, save me!" Remember the cry of two blind beggars on this very journey of our Lord, and how he opened their eyes when they cried, "Thou son of David, have mercy on us." Will we not also put up prayer for our Lord this morning? Will not each one in his pew now breathe a petition to God, saying, "Father, glorify thy Son"? Thou hast said that the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand: make it so. O Jehovah, thou art well pleased with Jesus; show thy good pleasure towards him by giving him to conquer ten thousand times ten thousand hearts. Let a nation be born in a day. May he reign for ever and ever! Hosanna! Hosanna! III. I have only a little time for my third point, and yet it is of great importance: CHRIST RECEIVED IN THE HEART. His triumphant ride into Jerusalem was a type of his entering the renewed heart. I pray that you who have never received him may listen, and may, by the listening, be led to pray for his coming into your heart. On that day, when Christ came up from Bethany, the city gates were wide open. We read nothing about them, because they were not in the way; they were no shut gates to him. He rode into Jerusalem without let or hindrance. Are your gates wide open this morning? If not, I would say, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors: and the King of glory shall come in." He is willing to abide in your hearts, and go no more out for ever; be sure that your gates are set wide before him. May the Holy Ghost open your hearts! Do not tolerate the thought of shutting out your Lord. Never! Throw wide the portals of your soul. Yea, go forth by willing obedience and say, Come in, my Lord! Come in! He was cheerfully received as King. Our Lord did not come to subdue the citizens at the point of the sword. He did not come with force of arms to coerce the city. You must receive Jesus willingly, or not at all. He comes to reign; but he comes in the gentleness of love. He rides on no high-mettled charger, he lays his hand on no sharp sword which clatters at his side, about him are no men-at-arms, behind him come no heavy guns, dragged along the trembling streets. Jesus was willingly received: everyone exultingly welcomed him. Will you so receive Jesus? Has he made you willing in the day of his power? You may well salute him, and welcome him to your heart and your home; for you have never before received so blessed a guest. Set open wide the gates, and entreat him to come in; for he will bring heaven with him. He never uses force; he conquers only by love. The Holy Spirit works upon the will of man; but he leaves it still a will, so that we freely choose our Lord, and delight in him as our King. Remember, beloved, the coming of Christ is with gentleness and love. Riding on a colt, the foal of an ass, is a very different thing from riding the fiery war-horse. I like not men who seem as if they were converted to hate everybody else. It is not Christ who has come unto you if you have grown prouder, harder, more passionate than ever. No, the Christ who enters to save, is himself so meek and lowly of heart that those who take his yoke upon them learn of him, and they become meek and lowly too. Admit the lowly Christ, and be of one mind with him. He will kill your bad temper, conquer your malice, and cast out your pride. Come and be the willing subject of a King who rideth forth in lowliest guise. His entrance caused great joy. No man's heart was made heavy that day. The face of the King frowned on none. Other kings have found it needful to force their way through crowds of rebels to their capital, and wade through slaughter to a throne; but none was found to hurt or devour in all the holy mountain when Jesus came to Zion. Women have been ravished, men have been murdered, even babes have been massacred when monarchs have entered cities; but when our King cometh, boughs and palm fronds, shouts and songs, are the setting of a very different scene. Instead of shrieks and groans, we hear the ringing music of children, with their glad Hosannas. Oh, will you not admit the Lord Jesus? Who will refuse an entrance to One who brings with him joy and peace?
He shall come down like showers Upon the fruitful earth; Love, joy, and hope, like flowers, Spring in his path to birth."
When he comes, men feel a burning enthusiasm for him. It should not be needful that I should plead for his admission. Surely you should run down the hill to meet him, and then come back, following after him with glad Hosannas. Lord Jesus, we cannot be cold in thy presence. Our souls burn as with coals of juniper when we remember thee. But I must tell you one thing which I am sure will not damp your ardor, if you are in a right state. If Jesus comes into your souls he will come as a Reformer. He will make your heart a temple, and out of it he will drive the buyers and the sellers, and all else that would pollute the soul. With his scourge of small cords he will whip out many a naughty thing from the heart which he makes his temple. Ay, let the thieves go! If your heart has been made a den of thieves by evil desires, should not these be chased out without mercy? So let it be. Welcome, thou great Refiner! Fain would we lose our dross. I feel so glad to have to add that when he comes into your heart he will hold a lev‚e. Did I not note it to you when we were reading the fourteenth verse? "The blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them." Dear heart, if Jesus comes to you, all that is blind and lame about you shall be healed. That was a singular lev‚e, was it not? Many of that select company came on crutches, and some with legs doubled up, or malformed. Blind men were there, with useless eyeballs or empty sockets where eyes should have been. Into this limping, groping circle came the King of glory, and he did not repel them, but he healed them. Admit the Lord into your heart, and the limping of your unbelief will be exchanged for the reapings of faith. Then shall you see those things to which your heart has long been blind. Let him in! Let him in! Believe on him, and trust him, and so let him into your heart, and you shall find him the physician of your soul. Last of all, you that have not yet received him, we want you to join with the rest of us in honoring him and glorifying him as he comes into your heart. "Oh!" saith one, if he will only come into my heart I will indeed praise him." Have your Vivas ready! Receive the Lord Jesus Christ with all honors. Mention his name with rejoicing. Have your Hurrah ready to welcome the King, the Conqueror, as he enters your soul. Be jubilant! Be enthusiastic! Rejoice that such a one as he should come to dwell with such a one as you, and bring such blessing with him. Praise him! Praise him! Extol him in the highest heavens! Then pray to him. "Save, Lord! Save, oh, save!" Then pray for others to him in the same words, "Hosanna; save, Lord, save!" And when you have done with Hosannas and prayers, conclude as the Psalmist did in that famous hundred-and-eighth psalm, wherein he cried, "Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar." Ask God of his love to-day to bind you to Christ, the altar, with one of those wreaths of love and ribands of triumphant grace which you now throw at his feet. Oh, for a twisted garland of mercies, the roses of gladness, and the lilies of delight, to bind our heart to Christ for ever! These cords of love may seem weak, but in very deed they hold us faster than chains of steel. Nothing holds a man like the silken cord of gratitude. When you know how Jesus loves you, when you see how he died for you, then you are drawn to love him in return, and are held to serve him in life, in death, and to eternity. Thus do we celebrate our Lord's triumphant entrance into the City of Mansoul, and we feel that we could prolong the celebration throughout the whole of our lives.
Yes, we will praise thee, dearest Lord, Our souls are all on flame, Hosanna round the spacious earth To thine adored name.
A Sermon to Open Neglecters and Nominal Followers of Religion
March 24th, 1866 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him." Matthew 21:28-32 .
The sight of this vast arena, and of this crowded assembly, reminds me of other spectacles which, in days happily long past, were seen in the amphitheatres of the old Roman Empire. Around, tier upon tier, were the assembled multitudes, with their cruel eyes and iron hearts; and in the center stood a solitary, friendless man, waiting till the doors of the lion's den should be uplifted, that he might yield himself up a witness for Christ and a sacrifice to the popular fury. There would have been no difficulty then to have divided the precious from the vile in that audience. The most thoughtless wayfarer who should enter into the amphitheatre, would know at once who was the disciple of Christ and who were the enemies of the Crucified One. There stood the bravely-calm disciple, about to die, but all around, in those mighty tiers of the Colosseum, or of the amphitheatre of some provincial town, as the case might be, there sat matrons and nobles, princes and peasants, plebeians and patricians, senators and soldiers, all gazing downward with the same fierce, unpitying look; all boisterous for their heathen gods, and all vociferous in the joy with which they gazed upon the agonies of the disciple of the hated Galilean, butchered to make a Roman holiday. Another sight is before us to-day, with far more happy associations; but alas! it is a far more difficult task this day to separate the chaff from the wheat, the precious from the vile, than in the day when the apostle fought with beasts at Ephesus. Here, in this arena, I hope there are hundreds, if not thousands, who would be prepared to die for our Lord Jesus; and in yonder crowded seats, we may count by hundreds those who bear the name and accept the gospel of the Man of Nazareth; and yet, I fear me, that both in these living hills on either side, and upon this vast floor, there are many enemies of the Son of God, who are forgetful of his righteous claims who have cast from them those cords of love which should bind them to his throne, and have never submitted to the mighty love which showed itself in his cross and in his wounds. I cannot attempt the separation. You must grow together until the harvest. To divide you were a task which at this hour angels could not perform, but which one day they will easily accomplish, when at their Master's bidding, the harvest being come, they shall gather together first the tares in bundles to burn them, and afterwards the wheat into Jehovah's barn. I shall not attempt the division, but I shall ask each man to attempt it for himself in his own case. I say unto you, young men and maidens, old men and fathers, this day examine yourselves whether you be in the faith. Let no man take it for granted that he is a Christian because he has helped to swell the numbers of a Christian assembly. Let no man judge his fellow, but let each man judge himself. To each one of you I say, with deepest earnestness, let a division be made by your conscience, and let your understandings separate between him that feareth God and him that feareth him not. Though no man clothed in linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side, shall go through the midst of you to set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and cry for all the abominations of this city, let conscience take the inkhorn and honestly make the mark, or leave the favored sign unmade, and let each man question himself this morning, "Am I on the Lord's side? Am I for Christ, or for his enemies? Do I gather with him, or do I scatter abroad?" "Divide! divide!" they say in the House of Commons; let us say the same in this great congregation this day. Political divisions are but trifles compared with the all-important distinction which I would have you consider. Divide as you will be divided to the right and to the left in the great day when Christ shall judge the world in righteousness. Divide as you will be divided when the bliss of heaven, or the woes of hell, shall be your everlasting portion. If the whole of us were thus divided into two camps, and we could say these have made a covenant with God by sacrifice, and those on the other hand are still enemies to God by wicked works, looking at the last class we might still feel it necessary by way of personal application to make a division among them; for although all unbelievers are alike unpardoned and unsaved, yet they are not alike in the circumstances of their case and the outward forms of their sins. Alike in being without Christ, they are still very varied in their mental and moral condition. I trust I was guided by the Spirit of God to my text this morning, for it is of such a character, that while it enables me to address the whole mass of the unconverted, it gives me a hopeful opportunity of getting at the conscience of each by dividing the great company of the unconverted into two distinct classes. O that for each tribe of unbelievers, there may be a blessing in store this day. First, we shall speak to those who are avowedly disobedient to God; and, secondly, to those who are deceptively submissive to him. I. First, we have a word for THOSE WHO ARE AVOWEDLY DISOBEDIENT TO GOD. There are many such here. God has said to you as he says to all who hear the gospel, "Son, go work to day in my vineyard;" and you have replied, perhaps honestly, but certainly very boldly, very unkindly, very unjustly, "I will not." You have made no bones about it, but given a refusal point-blank to the claims of your Creator. You have spoken your mind right out, not only in words, but in a more forcible and unmistakable manner, for actions speak far more loudly than words. You have said, over and over again, by your actions, "I will not serve God, or believe in his Son Jesus." My dear friend, I am glad to see you here this morning, and trust that matters will change with you ere you leave this hall; but at present you have not yielded even an outward obedience to God, but in all ways have said, "I will not." Practically you have said, "I will not worship God, I will not attend a place of worship on the Sunday it is a weariness intolerable to me. I shall not sing the praise of my Maker I will not pretend to bless the God for whom I have no love. In public prayer I shall not join I have no heart for it. I shall not make a pretense of repeating morning and nightly prayer in private what is the good of it? I will not pray at all; I do not believe in its efficacy, and I will not be such a hypocrite as to follow a vain practice in which I have no belief whatever. As for what is called sin, I love it and will not give it up." You are proud of being called an honest man, for you own the claims of your fellow men upon you, but you scorn to be thought religious, for you do not admit the rights of your Maker. To the righteous requests of others you yield a cheerful obedience, but to the just and tender requests of God you give a plain and evident denial. As clearly as actions can speak, you say by your neglect of the Sabbath, by your disregard of prayer, by your never reading the Bible, by your perseverance in known sin, and by the whole course of your life, "I will not." Like Pharaoh, you have demanded, "Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice?" You are of the same mind as those of old, who said, "It is vain to serve God, and what profit is there if we keep his ordinances?" Moreover, my friend, you have not as yet given an assent to the doctrines of God's Word; on the contrary, intellectually as well as practically, you go not at God's bidding. You have set up in your mind the idea that you must understand everything before you will believe it an idea, let me tell you, which you will never be able to carry out, for you cannot understand your own existence; and there are ten thousand other things around you which you never can comprehend, but which you must believe or remain for ever a gigantic fool. Still you cavil at this doctrine and that doctrine, railing at the gospel system in general; and if you were asked at a working man's conference, why you did not go to a place of worship, you would perhaps say that you kept away from worship because you did not like this doctrine or that. Let me say on my own account, that as far as I am personally concerned, it is a very small consideration to me whether you do like my doctrine or do not; for your own sake I am anxious above measure that you should believe the truth as it is in Jesus; but while you live in sin, your dislike of a doctrine will very probably only make me feel the more sure of its truth, and lead me to preach it with more confidence and vehemence. Think you that we are to learn God's truth from the likings or dislikings of those who refuse to worship him, and want an excuse for their sins? O unconverted men and women, it is very long before we shall come to you to learn what you would have us preach, and when we fall so low as to do that, you yourselves will despise us. What! shall the physician ask his patient what kind of medicine he would wish to have prescribed? Then the man needs no physician, he can prescribe for himself. Show the doctor out at the back door directly. What is the use of such a physician? Of what service is a minister who will truckle to depraved tastes and sinful appetites, and say, "How would you like me to preach to you? What smooth things shall I offer you?" Ah souls! we have some higher end to be served than merely pleasing you. We would save you by distasteful truths, for honeyed lies will ruin you. That teaching which the carnal mind most delights in, is the most deadly and delusive. With many of you, your beliefs, and tastes, and likes, must be changed, or else you will never enter heaven. I admit that in a measure I like your honesty in having said outright, "I will not serve God;" but it is an honesty which makes me shudder, for it betrays a heart hard as the nether millstone. Again, you have said, "I will not serve God," and up to this time it is very possible that you have never been in the humor to repent of having said it, for the ways of sin are sweet to you, and your heart is fixed in its rebellion. You have never felt that conviction of sin, which the Holy Spirit has wrought in some of us; if you had felt it, you would soon have been shaken out of your "I will not." If God's power of grace, of which thousands of us bear witness that it is as real a power as that which guides the stars or wings the wind--if God's almighty grace should once get a hold of you, you would no longer say, "I do not believe this or that;" for, as tremblingly as any of those whom you now despise, you would cry out, "What must I do to be saved?" Up till now you have never felt that power, and therefore I cannot wonder that you do not acknowledge it, although the testimony of honest witnesses ought to have some weight with you. You are practically, intellectually, and avowedly no Christian; you have never deceived yourself and others by making a profession which you do not honor, but you have gone on in your own chosen path, saying with more or less resolution, in answer to every call of the gospel, "I will not." We said just now that the answer of the son to his father as recorded in our text was very plain; it was not, however, very genuine, or such as his father might have expected. His father said, "Son, go work to day in my vineyard;" and the son rudely said, "I will not, that is flat;" and without another word of apology or reason went his way. This is not quite as it should be. Is it? Even so, my friend, you may have been too hasty and so have been unjust. Is it not very possible you have denied to God and to his gospel the respect which both really deserve? You have spoken very plainly, but at the same time very thoughtlessly, very harshly to the God who has deserved better things of you. Have you ever given the claims of the Lord Jesus a fair consideration? Have you not dismissed the gospel with a sneer quite unworthy of you? Have you not been afraid to look the matters between God and your soul fairly in the face? I believe it to be the case of hundreds here; I know it to be the case of thousands and tens of thousands in London. They have put their foot down, and they have said, "None of your religion for me! I have made up my mind and I will never alter; I hate it and will not listen to it." Does no small voice within ever tell them that this is not fair to themselves or to God? Is the matter so easily to be decided? Suppose it should turn out that the religion of Jesus is true, what then? What will be the lot of those who despised him? My hearer, the religion of Jesus is true, and I have proved its truth in my own case; do, I pray you, consider it, and do not trifle away your immortal soul. Thus saith the Lord, "Consider your ways." It is now time for me to tell the openly ungodly what is his real state. You have been more than a little proud of your honesty; and looking down upon certain professors of religion you have said, "Ah! I make no such pretences as they do, I am honest, I am." Friend, you cannot have a greater abhorrence of hypocrites than I have; if you can find a fair chance of laughing at them, pray do so. If by any means you can stick pins into their wind-bags, and let the gas of their profession out, pray do so. I try to do a little of it in my way, do you do the same! You and I are agreed in this, I hope, in heartily hating anything like sham and falsehood; but if you begin to hold your head up, and think yourself so very superior because you make no profession, I must take you down a little by reminding you that it is no credit to a thief that he makes no profession of being honest, and it is not thought to be exceedingly honorable to a man that he makes no profession of speaking the truth. For the fact is, that a man who does not profess to be honest is a professed thief, and he who does not claim to speak the truth is an acknowledged liar; thus in escaping one horn you are thrown upon another, you miss the rock but run upon the quicksand. You are a confessed and avowed neglecter of God, a professed despiser of the great salvation, an acknowledged disbeliever in the Christ of God. When our Government at any time arrests persons suspected of Fenianism, they have no difficulty about those gentlemen who glory in wearing the green uniform and flaunting the big feather. "Come along," says the constable, "you are the man, for you wear the regimentals of a rebel." Even so when the angel of justice arrests the enemies of the Lord, he will have no difficulty in accusing and arresting you, for, laying his hand upon your shoulder, he will say, "You wear the regimentals of an enemy of God; you plainly, and unblushingly, acknowledge that you do not fear God nor trust in his salvation." No witnesses need be called concerning you at the last great day; you will stand up, not quite so bravely as you do to-day, for, when the heavens are on a blaze, and the earth is rocking to and fro, and the great white cloud fills the field of vision, and the eyes of the great Judge shall burn like lamps of fire, you will put on a different mien and a different carriage from that which you maintain before a poor preacher of the gospel Ah! my ungodly hearer, with such a case as thine there shall be no need to judge, for out of thine own mouth shalt thou be condemned. Yet I came not here to tell you of your sins only, but to help you to escape from them. It is necessary that this much should be said, but we now turn to something far more pleasant. I am in hopes this day that some of you will listen to that little word in the text, "afterward." He said, "I will not; but afterward he repented, and went." It is a long lane, which has no turning, let us trust that we have come to the turning now. There is space left you for repentance; though you may have been a drunkard, or a swearer, or unchaste, the die is not yet cast, a change is yet possible. May God grant that you may have reached the time when it shall be said of you, "Afterward he repented; he changed his mind; he believed upon Jesus, and obeyed the word of the Lord, and went." Perhaps the son in the parable thought a little more calmly about it. He said to himself, "I will consider the matter, second thoughts are often best. I growled at my good father, and gave him a sharp answer, and I saw the tear standing in the good man's eye. I am sorry I grieved him. The thought of grieving him makes me change my mind. I said 'No' to him," said he, "but I did not think about it. I forgot that if I go and work in my father's vineyard, I shall be working for myself, for I am his eldest son, and all that he has will belong to me, so that I am very foolish to refuse to work to my own advantage. Ah! now I see my father had my advantage at heart, I will even go as he bade me." See, he shoulders his tools, and away he marches to labor with all his might. He said, "I will not," but he repented and went, and it is admitted by all that he did the will of his father. Oh, I hope that many a man and woman now in this Agricultural Hall will this day cry, "I do retract what I have said. I will go to my Father, and will say to him, 'I will do thy bidding. I will not grieve thy love. I will not lose the opportunity of advancing my soul's best interest; I obey the gospel command.'" I will suppose that I see one such before me, and I will speak to him. Perhaps he said, "I will not," because he really did not understand what religion was. How few after all know what the way of salvation is; though they go to church, and to chapel, they have not yet learned God's plan of pardoning sinners. Do you know the plan of salvation? Hear it and live by it. You have offended God; God must punish sin; it is a fixed law that sin must be punished; how then can God have mercy upon you? Why, only in this way: Jesus Christ came from heaven and he suffered in the room, place, and stead of all who trust him; suffered what they ought to have suffered, so that God is just, and yet at the same time he is able to forgive the very chief of sinners through the merits of his dear Son. Your debts, if you be a believer in him, Christ has paid on your behalf. If you do but come and rest upon Jesus and upon Jesus only, God cannot punish you for your sins, for he punished Jesus for them, and it would not be just of him to punish Christ and then to punish you, to exact payment first from the Surety and afterwards from the debtor. My dear hearer, whoever thou mayst be, whatever thy past life may have been, if thou wilt trust Christ, thou shalt be saved from all thy sin in a moment, the whole of thy past life shall be blotted out; there shall not remain in God's book so much as a single charge against thy soul, for Christ who died for thee, shall take thy guilt away and leave thee without a blot before the face of God. Read the last verse of my text, and you will see that it was by believing that men entered into the kingdom of God of old, and it is still by believing that men are saved. "Behold the Lamb of God," said John the Baptist, and if you look to that bleeding Lamb, you shall live. Do you understand this? Is it not simple? Is it not suitable to you. Will you still refuse to obey it? Does not the Holy Spirit prompt you to relent? Do you not even now say, "Is it so simple? I will even trust in Jesus:
'Guilty, but with heart relenting, To the Savior's wounds I'll fly.'
I will come, by God's help, this morning, lest death should come before the sun sets. I will trust Christ to save me. Precious way of salvation! Why should I not be saved?" It is possible too, that you may have said, "I will not," because you really thought there was no hope for you. Ah! my friend, let me assure you and oh! how glad I am to be able to do it that there is hope for the vilest through the precious blood of Jesus. No man can have gone too far for the long arm of Christ to reach him. Christ delights to save the biggest sinners. He said to his apostles, "Preach the gospel to every creature, but begin" where? "begin at Jerusalem. There live the wretches who spat in my face. There live the cruel ones that drove the nails throught my hands. Go and preach the gospel to them first. Tell them that I am able to save, not little sinners merely, but the very chief of sinners. Tell them to trust in me and they shall live." Where are you, you despairing one? I know the devil will try to keep the sound of the gospel from your ears if he can, and therefore, I would "cry aloud and spare not." O ye despairing sinners, there is no room for despair this side the gates of hell. If you have gone through the foulest kennels of iniquity, no stain can stand out against the power of the cleansing blood.
"There is a fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Immanuel's veins, And sinners plunged beneath that flood, Lose ALL their guilty stains."
Oh, I trust, now that you know there is hope for you, you will say, "I will even come at once, and put my trust in Jesus." While I would thus encourage you to repent of your neglect of God, let me invite you to come to Jesus, and press it upon you yet again. Ah! my dear friend, you will soon be dying, and though some wicked men, in their stupid insensibility, die very calmly, and as David said, "They are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other men, but their strength is firm," yet, whether they perceive it or not, it is a dreadful thing to die with unpardoned sin hanging about you. What will your guilty soul do when it leaves the body? Think of it a minute. It is a matter worthy of your thought. Some of you, in all probability, will die this week. It is not probable that so many thousands of us will march through a whole week, and be found alive at the other end of it. Well then, as we may some of us go soon, and all of us must go ere long, let us look before us and think a bit. Imagine your soul unclothed of the body. You have left the body behind you, and your disembodied spirit finds itself in a new world. Oh, it will be a glorious thing if that separated spirit shall see Jesus whom it has loved, and fly at once into his bosom, and drink for ever of the crystal fountain of ever-flowing bliss: but it will be a horrible thing if instead of it, your naked shivering spirit should wake up to find itself friendless, homeless, helpless, hopeless, tormented with remorse, afflicted with despair. What if it should have to cry out forever, "I knew my duty but I did it not, I knew the way of salvation but I would not run in it. I heard the gospel, but I shut my ears to it. I lived and at length left the world without Christ, and here I am, past hope, no repenting now, no believing now, no escaping now, for mercy and love no longer rule the hour." Have pity on thyself, my hearer. I have pity on thee. Oh, if my hand could pluck thee from that flame, how cheerfully would I do it! Shall I pity thee and wilt thou not pity thyself? Oh, if my pleadings should by God's grace persuade you to trust in Christ this morning, I would plead with you while voice, and lungs, and heart, and life held out! But oh, have pity on thyself! Pity that poor naked spirit which so soon will be quivering with utmost agony, a self-caused agony, an agony from which it would not escape, an agony of which it was warned, but which it chose to endure sooner than give up sin and yield to the scepter of sovereign grace. I would fain hope that you are saying, "I do now repent, and by God's grace I will go." If so, let me tell you there are a great many in heaven who once, like you, said, "I will not," but they afterwards repented and are now saved. I will give you one picture. Yonder, I see a company of men on horseback, and there is one, the proudest of them all, to whom they act as a guard; they are going to Damascus, that he may take Christians to prison and compel them to blaspheme. Saul of Tarsus is the name of that cruel, murderous persecutor. When Stephen was put to death, God said to this man Saul, "Go, work in my vineyard," but Saul said plainly, "I will not," and to prove his emnity, he helped to put Stephen to death. There he is riding in hot haste, upon his evil errand, none more set and determined against the Lord. Yet my Lord Jesus can tame the lion, and even make a lamb of him. As he rides along, a bright light is seen, brighter than the sun at noonday; he falls from his horse, he lies trembling on the ground, and he hears a voice out of heaven, saying, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Lifting up his eyes with astonishment, he sees that he had ignorantly been persecuting the Son of God. What a change that one discovery wrought in him. That voice, "I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest," broke his hard heart, and won him to the cause. You know how three days after that, that once proud and bigoted man was baptized upon profession of the faith of Christ, whom he had just now persecuted! and if you want to see an earnest preacher, where can you find a better than the apostle Paul, who, with heart on fire, writes again and again, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." I hope there is a Saul here, who is to be struck down this morning. Lord, strike him down! Eternal Spirit strike him down now! You did not know perhaps, that you had been fighting God, but you thought the religion of Jesus to be a foolish dream. You did not know that you had insulted the dying Savior; now you do know it, may your conscience be affected, and from this day forth may you serve the Lord. I must leave this second point when I have just said this. If there be one here who after a long refusal, at last relents, and is willing to become a servant of God by faith in Jesus Christ, let me tell him for his encouragement, he shall not be one whit behind those who have been so long making a profession without being true to it, for the text says, "The publicans and harlots go into the kingdom;" but what else? "Go into the kingdom" before those who made a profession of serving God, but who were not true to it. You great sinners shall have no back seats in heaven! There shall be no outer court for you. You great sinners shall have as much love as the best, as much joy as the brightest of saints. You shall be near to Christ; you shall sit with him upon his throne; you shall wear the crown; your fingers shall touch the golden harps; you shall rejoice with the joy which is unspeakable and fall of glory. Will ye not come? Christ forgets your past ill manners, and bids ye come to-day. "Come," saith he, "unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." Thirty years of sin shall be forgiven, and it shall not take thirty minutes to do it in. Fifty, sixty, seventy years of iniquity shall all disappear as the morning's hoar-frost disappears before the sun. Come and trust my Master, hiding in his bleeding wounds.
"Raise thy downcast eyes, and see What throngs His throne surround! These, though sinners once like thee, Have full salvation found. Yield not then to unbelief; He says, 'There yet is room:' Though of sinners thou art chief, Since Jesus calls thee, come."
II. Bear with me a little time while I speak to the second character, THE DECEPTIVELY SUBMISSIVE, by far the most numerous everywhere in England, probably the most numerous in this assembly. Oh! you, my own regular hearers, you who have heard my voice these thirteen years many of you are in this class. You have said to the Great Father, "I go, sir!" but you have not gone. Let me sorrowfully sketch your portraits: you have regularly frequented a place of worship, and you would shudder to waste a single Sunday in an excursion, or in any form of Sabbath breaking. Outwardly you have said," I go, sir." When the hymn is given out, you stand up and sing, and yet you do not sing with the heart. When I say, "Let us pray!" you cover your faces, but you do not pray with real prayer. You utter a polite, respectful "I go, sir," but you do not go. You give a notional assent to the gospel. If I were to mention any doctrine, you would say, "Yes, that is true. I believe that." But your heart does not believe: you do not believe the gospel in the core of your nature, for if you did, it would have an effect upon you. A man may say, "I believe my house is on fire," but if he goes to bed and falls to sleep, it does not look as if he believed it, for when a man's house is on fire he tries to escape. If some of you really believed that there is a hell, and that there is a heaven, as you believe other things, you would act very differently from what you now do. I must add that many of you say, "I go, sir," in a very solemn sense, for when we preach earnestly the tears run down your cheeks, and you go home to your bedrooms, and you pray a little, and everybody thinks that your concern of mind will end in conversion: but your goodness is "like the morning cloud and the early dew." You are like dunghills with snow upon them: while the snow lasts you look white and fair, but when the snow melts the dunghill remains a dunghill still. Oh, how many very impressible hearts are like that! You sin, and yet you come to a place of worship, and tremble under the word; you transgress, and you weep and transgress again; you feel the power of the gospel after a fashion, and yet you revolt against it more and more. Ah! my friends, I can look some of you in the face and know that I am describing some of your cases to the letter. You have been telling lies to God all these years, by saying, "I go, sir," while you have not gone. You know that to be saved you must believe in Jesus, but you have not believed. You know that you must be born again, but you are still strangers to the new birth. You are as religious as the seats you sit on, but no more; and you are as likely to get to heaven as those seats are, but not one whit more, for you are dead in sin, and death cannot enter heaven. O my dear hearers, I lament that ever I should be called to say such a thing as this, and not be more affected by the fact; and, wonder of wonders, that you, some of you, know it to be true, and yet do not feel alarmed thereby! It is the easiest thing in the world to impress some of you by a sermon, but, I fear me, you never will get beyond mere transient impressions. Like the water when lashed, the wound soon heals. You know, and you know, and you know; and you feel, and feel, and feel again, and yet your sins, your self-righteousness, your carelessness, or your willful wickedness, cause you, after having said, "I go, sir," to forget the promise and lie unto God. Now, I spoke very honestly to the other class, and must be equally plain with you. You, too, criminate yourselves. There will be no need of witnesses against you. You have admitted that the gospel is true. You did not quarrel with the doctrine of future punishment or future glory. You attended a place of worship, and you said that God was good and worthy to be served; you confessed that you owed allegiance to him, and ought to render it. You have even knelt down and in prayer you have said, "Lord, I deserve thy wrath." The great God has only to turn to some of your formal prayers to find quite enough evidence to secure your condemnation. Those morning prayers of yours, those evening prayers, hypocritical every one of them, will be more than sufficient to condemn you of your own mouth. Take heed! take heed, I pray you, while you are yet in the land of hope. All this while, as the thirty-second verse reminds me, while you have remained unsaved, you have seen publicans and harlots saved by the very gospel which has had no power upon you. Do not you know it, young man? You, I mean, the son of a godly mother? You know that you are not saved, and yet you had a drunken workman in your father's employment, and he has been these last few years a sober Christian man, he is saved, and you perhaps have taken to the habits which he has forsaken. You know that there have been picked off of the streets poor fallen women who have been brought to know Christ, who are among the sweetest and fairest flowers in Christ's garden now, though they were once castaways; and yet some of you respectable people who never committed any outward vice in your lives, are still unconverted, and still saying to Christ, "I go, sir," but you have not gone. You are still without God! Without Christ! Lost, lost, lost! Yet fairer outward characters could scarcely be found. I could fain weep for you! Oh! beware, beware of being like the apples of Sodom, which are green to look upon, but when crushed, crumble to ashes. Beware of being like John Bunyan's trees that were green outside, but inwardly rotten, and only fit to be tinder for the devil's tinder-box. Oh! beware of saying as some of you do, "I go, sir," while you go not. I sometimes see sick people who quite alarm and distress me. I say to them, "My dear friend, you are dying; have you a hope?" There is no answer. "Do you know your lost state?" "Yes, sir. "Christ died for sinners." "Yes, sir." "Faith gives us of his grace." "Yes, sir. They say, "Yes, sir; yes, sir; yes, sir; yes, sir; yes, sir." I sometimes wish before God they would contradict me, for if they would but have honesty enough to say, "I do not believe a word of it," I should know how to deal with them. Stubborn oaks are leveled by the gale, but those who bend like the willow before every wind, what wind shall break them? O dear brethren, beware of being gospel hardened; or, what is the same thing, softened but for a season. Beware of being a promising hearer of the word, and nothing more! I do not mean to close my discourse by speaking to you in this apparently harsh way, which; harsh as it seems, is full of love to your soul. I have a good word for you too. I trust that you, in this Agricultural Hall, will have a change wrought in you by the Holy Ghost, for although these many years you have made false professions before God; there is yet room in his gospel feast for you. Did you notice the text? "The publicans and sinners enter into the kingdom of heaven before you." Then it is clear you may come after them, because it could not be said they entered before you, if you did not come after them. If the Lord shall break your heart, you will be willing to take the Lord Jesus for your all in all in just the same way as a drunkard must, though you have not been a drunkard. You will be willing to rest in the merit of Jesus just as a harlot must, though you have never been such. There is room for you, young people, yet, though you have broken your vows, and quenched your convictions. Ay, and you grey-headed people may be brought yet, though you have lived so long in the outward means, but have never given up your hearts to Jesus. Oh, come! This twenty-fourth day of March, may the Lord bring you in this very place may the Lord lead you to say silently, "By the grace of God I will not be an open pretender any longer; I will give myself up to those dear hands that bled for me, and that dear heart that was pierced for me, and I will this day submit to Jesus' way. The fact is, to close the subject, there is, my dear friends, the same gospel to be preached to one class of men as to every other class. I pray God the day may never come when we shall be found in our preaching talking about working classes, and middle classes, and upper classes. I know no difference between you, you are the same to me when I preach the gospel, whether you are kings and queens, or crossing sweepers; satin and cotton, broadcloth and fustian, are alike to the gospel. If you are peers of the realm, we trim not our gospel to suit you, and if you are the basest of thieves, we do not exclude you from the voice of mercy. The gospel comes to men as sinners, all equally fallen in Adam, equally lost and ruined by sin. I have not one gospel for Her Majesty the Queen, and another gospel for the beggar-woman. No, there is but one way of salvation, but one foundation, but one propitiation, but one gospel. Look to the cross of Christ and live. High was the brazen serpent lifted, and all that Moses said was, "Look." Was a prince of the house of Judah bitten, he was told to look; without looking his lion standard of costly emblazonry could not avail him; was some poor wretch in the camp bitten, he must look, and the efficacy was the same for him as for the greatest of the host. Look! look! look to Jesus. Believe in the Son of God and live! One brazen serpent for all the camp, one Christ for all ranks and conditions of men. What a blessing would it be if we were all enabled to trust Christ this morning! My brethren, why not?--He is worthy of the confidence of all. The Spirit of God is able to work faith in all. O poor sinner, look to him! Dear hearers, I may never speak to some of you again, and I would therefore be pressing with you; by the hour of death, by the solemnities of eternity, I do implore and beseech you accept the only remedy for sin which even God himself will ever offer to the dying sons of men, the remedy of a bleeding Substitute, suffering in your room and stead, believed on and accepted in the heart. Cast yourself flat upon Christ. The way of salvation is just this rest alone upon Christ! Depend wholly upon him. The negro was asked what he did, and he said, "I jest fall down on de rock, and he sat is down on de rock cannot fall no lower." Down on the rock, sinner! Down on the rock! The everlasting rock of ages! You cannot fall lower than that. I will conclude with a well-known illustration. Your condition is like that of a child in a burning house, who, having escaped to the edge of the window, hung on by the window-sill. The flames were pouring out of the window underneath, and the poor lad would soon be burnt, or falling would be dashed to pieces; he therefore held on with the clutch of death. He did not dare to relax his grasp till a strong man stood underneath, and said, "Boy! drop! drop! I'll catch you." Now, it was no saving faith for the boy to believe that the man was strong that was a good help towards faith but he might have known that and yet have perished; it was faith when the boy let go and dropped down into his big friend's arms. There are you, sinner, clinging to your sins or to your good works. The Savior cries, "Drop! drop into my arms!" It is not doing, it is leaving off doing. It is not working, it is trusting in that work which Jesus has already done. Trust! that is the word, simple, solid, hearty, earnest trust. Trust and it will not take an hour to save you, the moment you trust you are saved. You may have come in here as black as hell, but if you trust in Jesus you are wholly forgiven. In an instant, swifter than a flash of lightning the deed of grace is done. O may God the Spirit do it now, bringing you to trust, that you may be saved.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Matthew 21". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12