came. His coming was greeted with great gladness above, and great silence below. Above, the stars sent a special messenger to bid Him welcome to the earth they lightened and brightened. Below, the rusty hinges of earth's inn refused to swing for Him. So man failing, the lower creation shared room with Him.
Above, was the sweetest music, the music of heaven. Three times the music of heaven is mentioned: at the creation, at this coming of Jesus, at the coming crowning of Jesus in John's Revelation. Below, the only music was that of the babe's holy young mother, God's chosen one to mother His Son, crooning to her babe; and the gentle lowing in minor key of the oxen whose stall He shared. Above, the great glory shining, the messenger of God speaking a message of peace and love. Below, only darkness and silence.
Among the cultured leaders of the city of David, and of Solomon, and of God's once glorified temple, there were no ears for the message, nor eyes for the glory. They had gone deaf and blind Godward long before. To them came no message, for no door was open. To simple men of nature who lived with the stars and the hills and the sheep, came the new shining of the glory, and the wondrous messenger and message. Their doors were open. They practised looking up. Of course neither city nor country mattered, nor matters. God always speaks into the upturned ear and looks into the upturned face.
And so Jesus came. With all of its contrasts it was a winsome coming. A pure young mother nursing her babe; the babe with its sweet wondrous face, a fresh act of God indeed; the simple unselfish cattle; the bright stars; the Glory shining; the sudden flood of music; the Lord's messenger; the message -- a very winsome coming.
He came into the peculiar climate of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is Judea. Out of the Babylonian remnant of Israel had come great men, true leaders, with great zeal for the city, and the temple, and the temple service, and for the law. They made the mould in which this later Jerusalem was cast. But that mould retaining its old form, had now become filled with the baser metals. The high ideals of the new makers of the city had shrunk into mere ideas. The small, strongly entrenched ruling circle were tenacious sticklers for traditions as interpreted by themselves. That fine old word conservative (with an underneath meaning of |what we prefer|) was one of their sweetest morsels. Underneath their great pride as Moses' successors, the favored custodians of the nation's most sacred treasures, was a passionate love for gold. The temple service was secretly organized on the profit-sharing plan, with the larger share, as usual, for the organizers.
That hardest thing in the whole range of human action to overcome, either by God or man or the devil -- prejudice -- they had, in the Simon-pure form, superlatively refined. The original treasure of God's Word was about as much overlaid and hidden away by writings about it as -- it has been in some other times. Of course they were looking for a Messiah, the one hope of their sacredly guarded literature. But He must be the sort that they wanted, and -- could use.
Herod the King was a man of great ability, great ambition, great passion, and great absence of anything akin to conscience. But the virtual ruler was the high priest. His office was bargained for, bought and sold for the money and power it controlled in the way all too familiar to corrupt political life in all times, and not wholly unknown in our own. The old spiritual ideals of Moses, and Samuel, preached amid degeneracy by Elijah and Isaiah, were buried away clear out of sight by mere formalism, though still burning warm and tender in the hearts of a few. This was the atmosphere of the old national capital into which Jesus came.