that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is He
that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the Kingdom of our father
David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.” (Mark
11:9,10) The multitude hailed Him King, but a few days later they cried,
Crucify Him! “And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then
that I shall do unto Him whom ye call the King of the Jews? And they cried out
again, Crucify Him.” (Mark 15:12,13)
The message of John the Baptist was, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” This same message Jesus instructed His disciples to carry from village to village throughout Palestine. This same message was the burden of His preaching and the theme of His parables. Finally, at the close of His ministry, the Kingdom came to the Jewish nation in the sense that it was offered to them ─ it was theirs for the accepting. Thus “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” ─ except a few. His own nation rejected Him, and four days later crucified Him. A little later, at Pentecost, a few who received Him were begotten of the Holy Spirit and became the nucleus of Spiritual Israel, in preparation for the glorious Kingdom and the work which is to be accomplished at His Second Advent.
On the second evening preceding the story of this lesson, Jesus and His disciples were at Bethany, the guests of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, who had prepared a special feast for Jesus, whom they loved so dearly. This was the Lazarus whom He had awakened from the sleep of death but a short time before. The feast took place at the close of the Jewish Sabbath day. The next morning corresponded to our Sunday, the first day of the week, and on Monday Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
In preparation for presenting Himself as King, Jesus sent two of His disciples for an ass’s colt, telling them where they would find it, and instructing them to say that it would be returned after the Master had used it. By the time the colt arrived, a considerable multitude had gathered ─ people of the village of Bethany and others who had come out from Jerusalem, about two miles distant, to see Jesus and to see Lazarus, upon whom the notable miracle had been wrought. It had long been the custom of the kings of Israel to ride to their coronation upon an ass; and the multitude seemed to enter into the spirit of this occasion and to realize what it meant that Jesus was about to ride into Jerusalem on this colt. It signified that finally He was ready to assume the office of King.
For some time the disciples had recognized Him as the Messiah, the glories of whose Reign they were to share; and the multitude in general had learned so to regard Him, saying, “When Messiah cometh, will He do greater works than this man?” ─ could we expect anything more of Messiah than we see being accomplished by this man Jesus? But this was the first time Jesus had formally put Himself forward. On previous occasions, when they had sought to take Him by force to make Him a king, He had withdrawn Himself, realizing that the time was not yet come. Now, so far from withdrawing, He was taking the active part, sending for the colt, preparing for the triumphal ride to the capital of the nation as its King.
We may be sure that the hearts of the Apostles thrilled with excitement as they thought of the nearness of their Master’s glory and of their own share in it; for as yet they did not realize the full import of His words to the effect that He must be crucified and must depart to a “far country,” even Heaven itself, and be invested with authority, and later return to establish the Kingdom which would bless the world. Jesus, however, was fully aware that the presentation of Himself as King was a formal matter, fulfilling the prophecy and leaving the nation of Israel without excuse. If, when He entered the city, the people should rise en masse, acknowledge Him and acclaim Him, then indeed they would be in line with the Divine requirements which would bring them the greatest of all blessings. But Jesus knew that prophecy had already declared that He would be despised and rejected, and that His own people would hide their faces from Him in shame (Isa. 53:3). The journey and the preparation for it, therefore, meant something very different to Jesus from what it signified to the disciples and the multitudes.
When the ass arrived, some of the people put their garments upon it in lieu of a saddle; Jesus mounted and the procession began. Some went before Him, and some followed after. The people were familiar with the prophecy relating to Messiah’s coming, which declared, “Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just and having sa1vation; Lowly, and riding upon an ass.” (Zech. 9:9) They were familiar also with the “shout” the prophets had foretold and the responses ─ one party crying, “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is the King of Israel, that cometh in the name of the Lord!” Then the response, “Hosanna in the highest!” These different expressions are recorded by the different evangelists.
But not all were enthusiastic acclaimers of Jesus; a discordant note was heard. Some of those who had come from the city through curiosity criticized the shouting, and wondered why Jesus did not rebuke the people for ascribing so great honor to Him. They sent word to this effect to Jesus through His disciples. Jesus made answer that a great prophecy was being fulfilled. The Prophet Zechariah had by inspiration said, “Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!” and such a shout must be made. Jesus declared that if the multitudes had failed to shout, the prophecy would still have been, fulfilled ─ the very stones would have cried out. The record tells that on the journey many of the people strewed their garments in the way, as a mark of respect and honor, waiting until the little animal had passed over them, and then running on before and placing them again. Others brought ferns, flowers and grasses, and strewed them on the way. Still others, John’s Gospel tells us, brought palm tree branches.
It was a jubilant procession, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah. Yet to Jesus it had the sad feature, as indicated by the account. When they had reached the turn of the Mount of Olives, which brought Jerusalem into view, the Master halted the procession while He looked over the city and wept, saying “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the Prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your House is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall see me no more, until that Day [over nineteen centuries later] when ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of Jehovah!” (Luke 13:34,35) Jesus realized that day was a turning point with the Jewish nation ─ that their rejection of Him meant their rejection by the Heavenly Father for a long time. It meant that during those long centuries the highly favored people of Abraham’s natural seed would be in distress. It meant that the favor of God, which had been with them for centuries, would instead be extended to the Gentiles, to gather out of the Gentiles a company of faithful, saintly ones to be associates and joint-heirs with Jesus and the faithful ones of the Jews in the Heavenly Kingdom. It meant that not until this elect, Heavenly, spiritual Kingdom class should be received to glory would the Jewish people be again received into fellowship with God. St. Paul markedly calls our attention to this fact that the rejection of Israel is not permanent, but only for a time ─ only until the complete number of faithful Saints be gathered out from amongst the Gentiles. Then God’s favor will go to Israel, and all earth’s families (Rom. 11:25-32).
THE KINGS OF THIS WORLD
How different was this entry of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, from the triumphal marches of earthly conquerors and kings! In the excitement of human passion and the prejudice of human minds a special halo of glory has surrounded the world’s conquerors. Heroic deeds, valiant conquests, as pictured by historians have a charm. The rising generation reads with thrilling interest of the prowess of Alexander the Great, of the Spartans of Greece, of the Caesars of Rome, and in more modern times of Robert Bruce, of Napoleon and Wellington, of Generals Grant and Lee, Sherman and Johnson, Sheridan and Steward. The homecomings of all of these were triumphal marches, in many cases rendering honor to whom honor was due.
Nevertheless, in every instance the mind’s eye necessarily closes against scenes which led up to such triumphs. We try to forget the millions of slain and wounded, and other millions of mourning widows and orphans. We try to forget the smoking ruins of homes behind those victorious armies. However necessary war at times may seem to be for the maintenance of justice, nevertheless all must concede that the blessings purchased by the sword are procured at a terrible cost. From this viewpoint Jesus, the Prince of Peace, followed by an army of saints who are walking in His footsteps, presents a beautiful picture ─ even to the worldly. These victors ─ Leader and followers ─ conquer by dying. Thus Jesus said to His followers, “Whosoever will save his life shall 1ose it; and whosoever shall 1ose his life for My sake and the Gospel’s shall find it.” (Mark 8:35) Thus viewed, all the followers of the Lamb are self-sacrificers, as the Bible declares: “1 beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Rom. 12:1) Such a victory ─ victory through death ─ is difficult for the majority of people to understand! What is the philosophy of it? Where is the victory?
VICTOR-KINGS THROUGH DY1NG
Well may it be asked, Wherein is the victory of Christ and His followers in laying down their lives for the brethren and in support of truth and righteousness? Only the Bible answers the question, and only those who exercise faith can understand the Bible answer. The Bible declares that the real victory of Christ and the Church is over self. Their crowning day is future ─ their triumph will be then. The triumphal entry of Jesus on the ass was only typical. The antitype will be glorious ─ beyond the veil. As Jesus after His resurrection was “received up into glory,” so also He has promised His Church that their resurrection shall change them from imperfect human beings to perfect spirit beings, joint-heirs with their Master, their Redeemer, in the glorious Millennial Kingdom which is to bless the world.
After Jesus had risen from the dead, He explained to His perplexed disciples what His death signified, saying, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things [death], and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:26) So St. Paul has declared in respect to all who will be Jesus’ associates in the Kingdom ─ they must suffer with Him if they would reign with Him; they must be dead with Him if they would live with Him (2 Tim. 2:12). Christ and His Church die to human hopes and interests, present and everlasting ─ laying down their lives, suffering for righteousness’ sake. Their reward is two-fold: (1) Their own personal exaltation to a Heavenly, spirit glory, like unto the angels, and yet more glorious ─ “far above angels, principalities and powers and every name that is named.” (2) The Kingdom glory ─ the joy of being the Divine agents for human restoration.
From this, the Bible viewpoint, the Christian warfare is different from every other warfare known to the world. It is a fight against sin, a fight against self-will, a full submission to the Divine will, a victory through death. “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10) “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My Throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His Throne.” (Rev. 3:21) No wonder that a proposition of this kind is but imperfectly understood by the world! “The world knoweth us not, even as it knew Him not.” (1 John 3:1) And this is one of the requirements of the Gospel, that Jesus and His followers shall submit themselves to be misunderstood by the world. We are counted fools for Christ's sake (1 Cor. 4:10).
It requires some stamina to be a loyal follower in the footsteps of Jesus, misunderstood as He was misunderstood by those of His day, reviled as He was reviled. “They shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake.” (Matt. 5:11) It is only when we understand through God’s promises that in these trying experiences of Christ and His followers there is a glorious purpose, that we are able to endure them with any measure of rejoicing. Only these are granted glory, honor and immortality, and the Kingdom which the Lord has promised to His faithful followers. Since Jesus is the Prince of Peace, how shall we understand the various passages of Scripture which refer to Him as a mighty Conqueror in blood-stained garments, taking vengeance on His foes? But especially, how shall we understand the declaration that, at His coming in the clouds of heaven, all the tribes of the earth shall wail because of Him?
Of this Prince of Peace it may be said that He will wound to heal, that whatever disasters He may bring or permit to come upon the world will be so overruled as to make of them blessings in disguise. Undoubtedly much that is said respecting our Lord is highly symbolic. For instance, He is to smite the nations with the Sword that proceedeth out of His mouth ─ the Word, or Message, of Truth. Such a smiting is in full conformity with the declaration that when St. Peter preached the Gospel at Pentecost, some of his hearers were “cut to the heart” ─ not with St. Peter’s literal sword, but with “the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” Eventually, that Sword will smite all opponents of righteousness for their good. Only the willfully wicked will eventually be destroyed in the Second Death. We are not to forget, however, that the inauguration of the Messianic Kingdom is to be in the midst of the Time of Trouble, and that Christ will have to do with the bringing, or at least the permitting, of that Trouble. Apparently mankind will be permitted to bring the great trouble at the end of this Age upon themselves. There are forces of evil, Satan and His angels, ready to do us harm and, through human forces, sin-forces entrenched in human nature, ready to do harm to the social fabric.
The New Covenant is the Scriptural name for the new arrangement between God and man which will be instituted at the beginning of the Age to follow this, and by which God purposes to receive the world of mankind again into favor with Himself. The covenant relationship which Adam originally enjoyed with his Maker, and its resultant harmony with Him, was contingent upon obedience to the expressed will of God, and was forfeited by disobedience. This covenant relationship with God was renewed typically at Mount Sinai, with Israel (Ex. 19:1-9; 24:3-8). Through Moses as mediator, God promised that if Israel would keep His Law they should have everlasting life. The inauguration of that Law Covenant was effected by their mediator, within six months after Israel left Egypt, through the sacrifices of bulls and of goats, the children of Israel solemnly agreeing to their part of the covenant. Later the Atonement Day sacrifices were repeated year by year continually; “for the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin.” (Heb. 10:1-9) Israel failed to gain the blessing promised in their Law Covenant. God foreknew that Israel would fail; but through their endeavors He was giving an object lesson which in the future would be a lasting blessing to Israel and to the whole world.
God will introduce this new Law Covenant through the Mediator of the New Covenant, Christ Jesus, in whom the entire arrangement centers, and through whom it will be carried out. He will be assisted in this work by the Church. This New Covenant will succeed, because of its better Mediator. And He will be not only Mediator, but Priest, Prophet, King and Judge. As Priest, He will uplift and bless humanity and receive their offerings. As King, He will rule mankind in righteousness; as Prophet He will teach them; as Judge, He will test them, decide and pass sentence, favorable or unfavorable. It will require the full thousand years to bring the people out of their condition of death and degradation, to restore whosoever will of all mankind to the image and likeness of God, lost by Adam in Eden.
The Scriptures tell us that “out of Zion shall go forth the Law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Isa. 2:3; Micah 4:2) So Jerusalem will then be the capital of the world, and the Ancient and Youthful Worthies will be made “princes in all the earth.” (Psa. 45:16) This arrangement will appeal first and primarily to the Jew, who would naturally be the first to come under the new regulations, because a nucleus of these Jews who were faithful to the Law Covenant, will be in Jerusalem when the Kingdom is inaugurated. The Scriptures tell us they will be humbled by the last phase of Jacob’s trouble in Jerusalem, and they will “cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” (Psa. 107:19,20) They will then recognize their Messiah, and will become the most active and zealous missionaries of the Kingdom. They will receive their instructions first-hand from the Worthies in Jerusalem, and will then appreciate the Lord’s promise to them: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake. I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts: and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer. 31:31-34)
We may not say that all the Jews will do so, but that this will be true of at least a considerable number of them. Quite a few have become infidels ─ unbelievers of God’s promises: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh.” (Rom. 2:28) There are many well-meaning people among the Gentiles who have not taken the vow of consecration to the Lord. They have accepted Jesus as their Savior, and have practiced righteousness to the best of their ability; but have not taken the second step of full consecration to the Lord, because the narrow way was too difficult for them: “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:14) during the reign and ascendancy of sin and evil. These Gentiles will be the first to join with the Jews and become Israelites ─ and like the Jews, they will become faithful and zealous missionaries of the Kingdom. We refer to these Gentiles as the quasi-elect, just as the Jews who were faithful to the Law Covenant are quasi-elect Jews.
In that day “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” (Isa. 35:1,2,8) This Highway of Holiness will be an easy way for all who love righteousness, and we believe there will be many who find it ─ which is in contrast with a “narrow way” under the reign of sin and evil.
By the close of the Mediatorial Reign those who have responded and made earnest effort to advance will be brought to a condition of human perfection, as was Adam at the beginning. Then they must be subjected to the same loyalty as was Adam, with no Mediator between them and God’s justice. How many will maintain their loyalty under the test, and how many will lose out and suffer destruction, we cannot know because there will be some who have obeyed outwardly during the thousand years, but not inwardly ─ were not in heart-harmony with righteousness.
Covenant relationship with God means perfection, either reckoned or actual. During the thousand years of Messiah’s Kingdom, mankind will be approaching actual perfection. The New Covenant, with all that goes with it, is the blessing which The Christ gives to mankind. It is God’s Covenant, and He has arranged that it shall go to the world through the Christ class, Head and Body. These glorious things are clearly set forth in various types in the Old Testament, as well as plainly stated in the New Testament.
For instance, St. Paul explains that Isaac, the heir of Abraham, was a type of The Christ, Head and Body. Isaac did not receive his inheritance by a new covenant, but by the original Covenant with Abraham, as does the Church (Gal. 3:8,16,29; 4:22-31). In Micah 4:1-4, we read: “In the last days...that Mountain [Kingdom] of the House of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains [kingdoms of earth]... and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the Mountain of the Lord, and to the House of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.” The succeeding verses of the chapter depict the influence that will be exerted. The blessings and prosperity will then be with those who will be in harmony with God. Now it is different, “All that wi1l 1ive godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Tim. 3:12) The world thinks that Christians, true followers of Jesus, are making their lives miserable. But the world is greatly mistaken on this matter. On the contrary, we are enjoying ourselves greatly, we are having a good time. We have much advantage every way, in spite of our afflictions; for we know that in a very little while our and afflictions will be over. We know that the glorious Kingdom of Messiah, in which, if faithful, we are to share, is about to be set up on the earth.
In the future Dispensation, God tells us, the tables will be turned. None of the wicked shall prosper. THEN whoever is unrighteous shall suffer, and whoever does righteously shall receive a blessing (Psa. 37:1,2,7-17,22). NOW the wicked very often prosper, and the poor and needy and the good of earth are oppressed. When the Times of Restitution come to the world, all will be changed. The result will be a clean universe in which everyone in heaven and on earth, and such as have been in the sea, the rebellious race, will glorify and praise the God of perfect wisdom, justice, love and power, and the Lamb that sitteth with Him on His throne forever and ever, saying, “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.” (Rev. 5: 13)
The basic concepts of the foregoing are from the “faith once delivered unto the saints” ─ and much of it is verbatim of their writings. As much of the beauty and harmony of the Truth has been distorted, set aside, and revolutionized against, since the demise of That Servant, it is our hope that what is presented herein will commend itself to all our readers and better enable them to appreciate the “Good Tidings of great joy, which sha1l be to all people.” (Luke 2: 10) “May that peace of God which surpasses all conception, guard your hearts and your minds by Christ Jesus.” (Phi1. 4:7, Dia.)
Our cordial good wishes to a1l for a Blessed Holiday Season ─ and “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it.” (Prov. 10:22)
(Brother John J. Hoefle, Reprint 428, December I991)
WHAT OUR LORD FEARED AND FROM WHAT HE WAS SAVED
“Christ… was heard in that he feared.” (Hebrews 5:7)
We are glad that Jesus was not cold and stoical, but that he was full of warm, loving, tender feelings and sensibilities; and that we, consequently, can realize his ability to sympathize with the most tender, the most delicate, the most refined, the most sensitive, more than could any other human being. He must have felt keenly the conditions under which he had placed himself in laying down his life on our behalf; for the more perfect the organism, the more sensitive and high-strung are the feelings; the greater the capacity for joy, the greater the capacity for sorrow. Being absolutely perfect, our Lord must have been immeasurably more susceptible to the influence of pain than are others.
“OFFERED UP STRONG CRYINGS AND TEARS TO HIM WHO
WAS ABLE TO SAVE HIM”
Besides this, he knew that he had a perfect life, unforfeited, and realized that he was about to part with it. Others of the human family possess only a forfeited or condemned existence, and realize that they must part with this some time. It would, therefore, be a very different matter for our Lord to lay down his life from that of any of his followers laying down theirs. If we let one hundred percent represent perfect life, our Lord had the full one hundred percent to lay down, while we, being more than ninety-one one-hundredths dead through trespasses and sins and condemnation could, at most, have had but one hundredth part to lay down. A cold, stoical indifference to the loss of life, based upon knowledge that it could last but a short time longer at best, would, therefore, be a very different thing from the clear knowledge which our Lord had of the experience which he had with the Father “before the world was”; and the realization that the life he was about to lay down was not forfeited through sin, but was his own voluntary sacrifice.
There can be no doubt that this thought of the extinguishment of life was an important factor in our Lord’s sorrow. The Apostle clearly intimates it in the words (Heb. 5:7), “Who in the days of his flesh… offered up prayers and supplication, with strong cryings and tears, unto him who was able to save him from [out of] death, and was heard in [respect to] that he feared” ─ extinction. This thought brought with it another, viz., Had he done the Father’s will perfectly? Could he claim, and would he receive the reward promised him ─ a resurrection from the dead?
Had he failed in any particular to come to the exact standard of perfection his death would have meant extinction; and although all men fear extinction, none could know the full depth and force of its meaning as could he who not only had the perfection of life, but had recollection of his previous glory with his Father before the world was. For him the very thought of extinction would bring anguish, terror of soul. This thought seems not to have come to our Lord with the same force previously. It was this, therefore, that bore down upon him now so heavily as an exceeding sorrow unto death. He saw himself about to suffer according to the Law as an evil-doer, and the question naturally arose, was he entirely blameless, and would the Heavenly Judge thoroughly acquit him whom so many were disposed to condemn?
“COULD YE NOT WATCH WITH ME
After praying he went to his three disciples, but found them asleep. Gently he reproved them, asking, “Could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” Then our Lord went away and used the same words in prayer; and again, he prayed a third time, similarly. The matter was weighing upon his heart. Could he rely upon it now, that having sought to do the Father’s will, having finished his course, he had done it acceptably? Could he have full assurance of faith that God would save him out of death by a resurrection?
In answer to his petition a heavenly messenger was sent to comfort him, to reassure him, to strengthen him. We are not informed what message the angel brought, but we can see that it was a message of peace; that he brought assurance, not only that the Lord’s course had the Father’s approval, but that he would be brought again from the dead by a resurrection. These were quite sufficient to give our Lord all the strength and courage necessary for the ordeal before him; and from that moment onward we find him the coolest and calmest of the notable figures brought to our attention. When approached by Judas and his band, he was the most calm and self-possessed of all; when before the chief-priest, Caiaphas, he was the same; when before Pilate, the same, when crucified the same. He had found peace in the message that he was approved of the Father, and that all the gracious promises of glory, honor and immortality were his; and now he could pass through any ordeal, he could submit himself perfectly to his enemies.
(Pastor Russell, Reprint 4804, April 15, 1911)
OUR BLESSED HOPE
When’er the storms come down on thee,
And days of peace all seem to flee,
This thought thy peace again shall bring,
Why should I fear? ─ the Lord is King.
E’en when the tempest rages high,
And the darkest clouds are drawing nigh,
With hands of faith of this, oh, cling,
Why should I fear? ─ the Lord is King.
Amid the stormy waves of life,
Above the tumult and the strife,
The chimes of hope still sweetly ring,
Be not afraid ─ the Lord is King.
Thy ship is toss’d by wind and wave,
But there is no one whose power can save,
Across the sea He hastes to bring,
Both rest and peace ─ the Lord is King.
Yes, Jesus walks upon the sea,
And in the storm He comes to thee;
Then trust Him, rejoice and sing;
He calms the waves ─ the Lord is King.
He stretches out His hand to thee,
And from thy fears He sets thee free;
Beneath the shadow of His wing
He keeps thee safe─ the Lord is King.