“Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” – Matthew 21:9
It was at the beginning of the last week of the Lord’s life on earth that He entered Jerusalem in triumph, multitudes going before Him, spreading palm branches and their garments in His way, and proclaiming Him the Messiah in the words, “Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”
So great was the enthusiasm with which He was received and so great was His following that His enemies, the Pharisees, said among themselves, “Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.” This remark is among other things prophetic of the fact that the Church of Christ would become established in the world, and that its enemies would be powerless to overthrow it, for the Lord is with those who follow Him.
It was the office of the king to execute judgment and justice. Because the ass represents judgment from natural reason regardless of prejudice or favor, kings and judges rode on asses. For this reason the Lord entered Jerusalem riding upon an ass in fulfillment of the prophecy, “Behold, thy king cometh unto thee… lowly, and riding upon an ass.”
We all realize that the Lord’s thus entering Jerusalem in triumph, amid the songs and rejoicing of the people, is a picture of the joy that should be ours in the recognition of Him as King, and of our desire to receive His truth and goodness in our hearts.
The people in Jerusalem thought that He would set up an earthly kingdom, free them from bondage to Rome, and make them great. Today we see how mistaken they were as to His purpose and we can rejoice that their unworthy expectations were not fulfilled. The kingdom of the Lord is in the minds and hearts of men. When it is established there, all forms of external bondage will be removed.
Let us think then of this Gospel incident as picturing to us the recognition of the Lord as God, that He may enter into the city of our souls and reign there.
Our text reads, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” A name when spiritually understood stands for all the qualities associated with its possessor, and the “name of the Lord” means all the knowledge that we possess of His personality, His attributes, His qualities. The name of the Lord includes His love, His wisdom, and all the operations of them in His government of the universe.
The story of the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem is one of the striking Bible pictures, and in the early days of the Christian Church the event was celebrated, became increasingly popular, and was finally established as a special day of the church.
It was at the time of the Passover, the first of the three great religious feasts of the Israelitish Church. People came from distant provinces and countries, bringing coins of other kingdoms. It was necessary to obtain Hebrew coinage for the offering. For this purpose money-changers came to the temple to make the commission on the exchange. Also the worshipers needed the particular sacrifices required by law, and to provide these vendors of the necessary animals and birds were at hand. In their greed for gain they crowded about the temple, and at length some of the more favored money-changers and vendors brought their seats and tables even into the outer court of the temple itself.
The Lord cast out all who sold and bought in the temple and said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
The Lord’s entry into Jerusalem as recorded in the Word is an historic fact, but we do not think of it merely as a victory over those who opposed Him in His life on earth. We know that it has a present meaning for us and for people of all time. We think of His entry into the church to purify it and to save mankind. We see in it a revelation of what He would like to do for us, to enter into our lives and cast out the things of self that do not serve Him and that make the soul not a temple of God but a den of thieves. There is a power in the Gospel which makes us to know that everywhere in it the Lord is speaking a direct message to us now, urging us to give up those things that crowd Him out, and to let Him enter into our lives.
There are Divine laws of life. And these laws of the spirit are as fixed as the laws of nature. They cannot be changed, for to change them would bring confusion and disorder throughout the universe. It was because the Lord wishes to bless us with the happiness that can come only from Him that He, when on earth, entered Jerusalem and cleansed the temple.
Today we no longer permit the church to become a place of merchandise. Yet this part of the story, too, has a lesson for us. The spirit of the moneychangers and vendors of doves still exists and manifests itself in various forms. There is the tendency to try to draw people into the church by watering down and popularizing its message. And the appeal to worldly motives is sometimes made to draw people into the church. The physical, mental, and material values of church-going are stressed. It will bring us physical benefits and outward success; it is good business; it will get us in with certain people and we shall be thought well of. These motives are the money-changers and vendors of doves today.
The lesson of Palm Sunday is very simple, direct, and personal. “Know ye not that ye are a temple of the Lord?” Each one of us is such a temple, and all the particulars of the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem apply to us individually. We are men and women, distinguished from brute animals simply because we are temples of the Lord. Everyone has an inmost in which the Lord dwells, and by virtue of this inmost he can be formed into the image and likeness of God, his Creator. As we go to the Word, learn of the Lord, and keep His commandments, the Lord gives us wisdom, spiritual light, and knowledge of spiritual things.
But not only is this temple in us, but the money-changers and vendors of doves are also there. The story is a true picture of the conditions in our souls. The money-changers refer to the things of the understanding and the vendors of doves to the will. The money-changers and the vendors of doves are the worldly thoughts and the worldly desires and ambitions which are ever with us.
The story pictures how commonly little by little worldly interests invade the soul and make advance until the spiritual life is threatened and the soul becomes instead of a house of prayer a den of thieves that steal away all things of real value.
After the Lord cleansed the temple, the blind and the lame came to Him and He healed them. To be ignorant of the Lord and of the truths of heavenly life is to be blind. And to be lame is to be unable to walk firmly in the way of truth.
The Lord wishes to enter our minds and hearts in order that He may give us the light to see the way and the power to walk in it without stumbling, that in us the prophecy may be fulfilled:
“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace.”
“And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”