Remember Jesus Christ

By Charles R Erdman

Chapter 3 - The Triumphal Entry


Palm Sunday calls to mind the entrance of Christ into the city of Jerusalem. It is the fourth Sunday in Lent and opens the observance of Holy Week. It owes its name to the fact that as our Lord drew near to the city He was met by throngs who waved before Him “branches of palm trees” as the emblems of triumph. The spirit of this celebration differs from that of any other day in Lent. There is joy, exultation, and the voice of praise; yet there are overtones of sadness and even deep mutterings of tragedy. The multitudes believed that the Savior had triumphed over all His enemies; but Christ saw before Him rejection, anguish, and death.

It was a dramatic event. Probably no scene in the life of our Lord is so vivid in color, so vibrant with emotion. The streams of Passover pilgrims, in their gay festal garments, are sketched against the spring verdure of the Mount of Olives. In the center of the pageant, with princely dignity, rode the King. He was seated upon a colt which His followers had caparisoned with their robes. Before Him moved the crowds which had come out from the city. They had thrown their garments in the pathway and also branches which they had cut from the trees. Shouts filled the air: “Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest”

How different were the thoughts of Christ! This was the first day of the week; He knew that the throngs which that day were shouting “Hosanna” would on Friday be crying “Crucify Him.” He was torn with anguish, not because He saw His suffering to come, but because He saw the results of His rejection. He knew that as a consequence the city would be destroyed and its inhabitants cruelly massacred: “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace: but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”

This “triumphal entry” was a symbolic event. Its features were not intended to be taken in any literal and physical sense. It was an acted parable. Christ did not propose to use the colt or the rustic garments of His disciples, or the peasants who attended Him, as the features of an oriental court which He might establish in Jerusalem. He was offering Himself in this picturesque way as a spiritual Ruler. He wished the people to submit to Him their hearts and their lives. He hoped that in reality they would accept Him as their Savior and King.

Only faintly did the crowds interpret the meaning of the object lesson, only in the least degree did they understand their own shouts of joy or their praises and their prayers. Even the closest followers of Christ failed to realize all that their own experiences of that triumphal day were signifying. The apostle John has a very revealing confession to make: “These things understood not his disciples at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.” Here is a most impressive message relative to the remorse and also the reward of memory. The remorse of memory differs from the remorse of conscience. The remorse of conscience consists in the pain of recalling the evil one has done; the remorse of memory is the sad regret we experience when we recall how little we appreciated the good which had been ours. On the day of the “triumphal entry” the disciples did not experience that deep and deathless devotion which they should have felt toward the Master who was yet to be the “King of kings, the Lord of Lords.” Within a few days “they all forsook him and fled”; but afterwards they remembered what they had not remembered; afterwards they knew what they should have known; afterwards they understood what Christ had meant when He offered Himself as the King. There was some bitterness in that memory. There is always bitterness in recalling how little we appreciated our opportunities, our friends, our loved ones, until all were gone, and we think with sadness of what “might have been.” Yet for the disciples there was blessedness in their memory of this dramatic day. When Jesus was glorified then they remembered how Zechariah had prophesied:

Tell ye the daughter of Zion,

Behold, thy King cometh unto thee,

Meek, and riding upon an ass,

And upon a colt the foal of an ass.

Then they remembered that they had been the ones to accompany the King; they had been the ones to have a part in the fulfillment of this inspired prophecy: ”˜”˜they had done these things unto him”; and a glad and thrilling memory it must have been. So in the distant ages to come, we may remember that all the bright events of our lives were parts of a divine plan and purpose, and that the best of all our experiences were those which we enjoyed in the company of Christ and consisted in what we had done for Him.

That dramatic scene in the life of our Lord, which Palm Sunday commemorates, was a symbolic event, but also a prophetic event. That crowd of rustics which accompanied our Lord, that meek Prophet riding upon a colt, are but faint and indistinct shadows of the great reality of our Lord's return. They point us forward, not only to Easter and to the ascension, but to a second advent when Christ shall come to take His kingdom to Himself.

O the joy to see thee reigning,

Thee our own beloved Lord;

Every tongue thy name confessing,

Worship, honor, glory, blessing Brought to thee with glad accord.

Possibly the most practical message of Palm Sunday consists in what it teaches concerning the relation between faith and feeling, between emotion and resolution. First of all, one must be warned against confusing faith and feeling. The temptation is peculiarly great in times of special religious services. It is true, sometimes, that the emotions are so stirred by music and flowers, by eloquence and architecture, that one imagines he has experienced a great spiritual advance, whereas, when the excitement has subsided, there has been no abiding change. When the feelings are aroused, the question is, What is the direction of the will; what is the new resolve, what is the higher resolution? If they could have been found on Friday, those withering palms of the past Sunday, or the faded foliage of the less sturdy trees, they might have been grim witnesses of the fleeting and passing importance of mere religious emotion.

In the second place it should be noted that religious feelings may be an incentive to deeper faith and wise action. Our Savior made a deliberate attempt to arouse the feelings of the crowds. He carefully planned the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He sent His disciples to secure the young colt; He willingly sat upon the garments spread by His followers. He accepted the plaudits of the multitude. He definitely refused to rebuke the disciples, and declared that “if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” He hoped that this dramatic colorful scene might inspire real faith in the hearts of the people. This was His final appeal for loyalty and devotion. Let us not underestimate the value of emotion in our religious experiences. Cold, dreary, conventional services, at no time of the year will be calculated to result in newer resolution or in deeper loyalty to Christ.

In the third place, it should be noted that real, vital, sacrificial faith will awaken true emotion. If our religious experiences seem to be formal and unreal, let us yi^ld ourselves more completely to the will of Christ, let us make some real sacrifice in His service, let us seek to bring some other soul into fellowship with Him. Let us, at all times, “remember Jesus Christ,” and then His Spirit surely will

Kindle a flame of sacred

love In these cold hearts of ours.