“When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, Who is this?” (Matt. 21:10)
Jesus was now enthroned upon the highest wave of popular favor. It was, perhaps, the only moment in his earthly history in which it might be said that his popularity was in the ascendant. The sun of human glory now shone upon him in all its splendor. He was for a moment the idol and the delight of the people. They thronged his path, carpeted it with their garments, strewed it with foliage, and rent the air with their loud and joyous hosannas. All this was strange to Jesus. It was a new page in his history, a new lesson in his life, which would fit him in all future time to sympathize with and support those who should be subjected to a like perilous ordeal in their Christian career.
We learn that, seasons of earthly prosperity in the experience of the Christian may be perfectly compatible with his close walk with God. The sunshine of God and the smile of the creature may be permitted for a while to blend, tinting with their bright hues the varied forms and objects of existence. These are some of the few “lights” intermingled with the many “shadows” — with which God pencils the picture of life. Are our callings prospered, are our homes happy, do friends smile, are neighbors kind, and have the lines fallen to us in pleasant places? These are gleams of light upon our path across the desert, and in them, O my soul! see that you trace a Father’s hand, and acknowledge a Father’s heart. The picture of your life is not all somber. If the clouds shade, the sunshine brightens it; if judgment frowns, mercy smiles; and if the bread and the water of affliction are at times your appointed portion, with it he gives his love to soothe you, his presence to cheer you, his arm to sustain you, his heaven to receive you, and says, “You shall not be forgotten by me.”
We learn, also, how meekly and lowly a child of God should walk in times of worldly prosperity. Jesus was not inflated with pride, nor lifted up with vainglory by this ebullition of popular favor. Oh, how great the grace required to walk humbly with God in times of worldly prosperity! When “Jeshurun waxed fat, he kicked.” When earthly riches increase, or worldly honors are bestowed, or human applause is lavished, then is the time to flee to the mountain of strength, to the armory of truth, to the solitude of the closet, and to wrestle with God for help to resist and overcome the soul-perils to which all these seductions fearfully expose us. O my soul! be doubly on your guard, be whole nights in your watch-tower, when floating with the tide, wafted by the wind, irradiated with the sunshine of creature good, of earthly prosperity. The world’s dizziness, the creature’s caresses, the heart’s self-satisfaction, would prove your downfall and ruin but for the restraining grace of God.
We also learn how empty and evanescent a thing is the bubble of popular favor. When Jesus was come into Jerusalem, “all the city was stirred.” But before many days elapsed, the air that rang with his acclaim echoed with his execrations; the voices that then sang “Hosanna!” now shouted “Crucify him! Crucify him!” and from that very city they led him out to die. O my soul! Bid low for the world’s applause; set light by man’s favor; be not ensnared by creature smiles. Fill not your censer with the incense, and shape not your sail to catch the breath of, human popularity; still less the favor and adulation of the saints. Their idol today, you may be their object of ridicule tomorrow. “Hosanna” now, “Crucify him” then! Walk humbly with your God. Cling to the faithfulness of the unchanging One, to the friendship of the loving One, to the strength of the Almighty One, and to the compassion and sympathy of the crucified One, and let your Jesus be all in all.
Earthly friends may fail or leave us,
One day soothe, the next day grieve us,
But this Friend will ne’er deceive us
Oh, how he loves!