THE lessons of this quarter carry our minds step by step through the painful scenes attending the last days of our Lord's life in the flesh, ending with his crucifixion, and then introduce us to the risen Lord, mighty to save, having the keys of death and the grave. In the course of the last quarter we saw his rising popularity with the masses of the people, attracted by his miracles and astonished and fascinated by his teachings; and, with them, we have marvelled at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth, and have hung upon his words, and our hearts have burned within us while the spirit of God has applied to us also the balm of his counsel. And now as we mentally proceed with him through the last few days of his human life, let its solemn scenes bring our hearts into yet closer fellowship and sympathy with that wealth of love and tenderness which so freely sacrificed all things for our sakes.
Three and a half years of public teaching and works which testified to the truth of his claims as the Messiah, ending with the raising of Lazarus from the dead, culminated in a seeming triumph which raised high the hopes of his disciples and of many in Israel that now their king, their Messiah, had indeed come and that the glory of Israel foretold by the prophets was soon to be realized. In this state of the public mind the Lord saw his opportunity to fulfil the prophecy of Zech. 9:9, by publicly essaying to assume the kingly office. And not only were the circumstances thus propitious, as foretold, but the time had come.
According to God's covenant with their fathers (Acts 3:25,26), the gospel of the Kingdom was to be to the Jew first. Yet God knew beforehand that, as a nation, they would neither appreciate nor accept it, and by his Prophet foretold that only a remnant of the nation would prove worthy of the covenant favor, and that the rest would be blinded (as they were by their prejudices and hardness of heart), while the great covenant blessing would be accepted and realized by some from among the Gentiles, who should be accounted the seed of Abraham to whom pertain the promises,—children not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit, having the faith of Abraham; for, as Jesus said, God was able of the very stones to raise up children unto Abraham.—See Rom. 9:27; Isa. 10:22,23; Rom. 11:7,11,12; Acts 13:46; Gal. 3:9,16,28,29; Matt. 3:8,9.
It was on account of this covenant of God with their fathers that Jesus, instructed by these and other prophecies, offered himself thus to fleshly Israel as their King, although he knew that, while the masses would give him a royal welcome and hail him with hosannas, their unstable and fickle minds, swayed by their false teachers and unwilling to act upon their convictions in the face of opposition, would, only a few days later, cry, Crucify him! crucify him!—John 12:1,12,13;
Why then, is it asked, did Jesus go through this form of assuming kingly authority when he knew how it would [R1795 : page 86] result? We answer that, according to the teachings of the Apostle, this action was performed as a part of that great system of types which foreshadowed good things to come.
This triumphal entry into Jerusalem, together with its chronological order, prefigured the coming of Christ as king, in the end of this Gospel age, which is the antitype of the Jewish age, the two being exact parallels in both time and circumstances.* According to this remarkable parallelism we find the year 1878 A.D. to be the point of time in this age when the king, our risen Lord, was due actually to take his great power and begin his reign.
That such is the accomplished fact we have no hesitancy in stating. We have ample proof from the sure word of prophecy+ that the time is at hand for the setting up of the Kingdom of God in the earth under the dominion of his Anointed—the Church. Around this fact cluster truths of deepest moment, not only to Christians, but to the whole world, if they were only wise enough to hear and heed.
Many are blinded to the fact of the Lord's presence, so clearly indicated in the Scriptures, by their misapprehension of the manner of his coming. Expecting to see him in the flesh, and his coming to be announced by the blast of a literal trumpet and visible to the natural eye in the literal clouds, they are unable to see, to recognize, him as having come and as now present, not in the flesh, but a spirit-being, invisible to the natural eye, yet clearly attested to the eye of faith by the sure word of prophecy, and to discern his presence and power in the midst of the clouds of trouble now so rapidly casting their dark shadows over the whole world. Nevertheless, these are facts, and of most solemn import, especially to all that name the name of Christ. You that are faithful they bid to "look up, and lift up your heads; for your deliverance draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28); while you, professed Christians who have grown lukewarm and indifferent, and you that are of the world seeking to satisfy your soul's cravings with the husks of worldly pleasure, all unmindful too of the cries of the oppressed and the woes of the suffering, you they bid beware of "a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation"—a trouble even now imminent.—Dan. 12:1.
The authoritative course of the Lord upon this occasion, in overthrowing the tables of the money-changers in the temple (Matt. 21:12,13), saying, "It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves," as a typical act, indicates what is elsewhere also stated, that in the end of this age judgment begins with the professed house of God (1 Pet. 4:17), and his great displeasure against those who make merchandise of the truth.
Then followed the healing of the lame and the blind who came to him in the temple (Matt. 21:14), showing how the spiritually lame and blind in the church here may also be blessed by his healing touch.—Rev. 3:18,19.
And when the chief priests (Matt. 21:15,16; Luke 19:40) expressed their displeasure against those who glorified the new king (as the chief priests—the clergy—do to-day against those whose blindness and lameness the Lord has healed), Jesus said, "I tell you that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." Why? Because the Prophet Zechariah (9:9) had foretold the shouting and rejoicing, and now the time had come and the prophecy was sure to be fulfilled—"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold thy King cometh unto thee," etc. So it was in the type then; and so it is in the antitype now. As truly and as necessarily as there was shouting and rejoicing there, so there is and must be now. Great is the joy now among the saints as they recognize the King; and their proclamation of his presence and Kingdom is the "shout," heard, if not believed. "Yea," said the Master, "have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?" Even so is it now also in this antitype of that day; for it is not from the chief priests, the clergy, of to-day that the hosannas rise in recognition of the King's presence and power here, but out of the mouths of the common people—"of babes and sucklings" are heard the notes of praise and jubilee—"Hosanna to the Son of David" who has come to reign, and who is even now setting up his Kingdom.