29 And it came to pass, when he drew nigh unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, Go your way into the village over against you
; in which as ye enter ye shall find a colt tied, whereon no man ever yet sat: loose him, and bring him.31 And if anyone ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say, The Lord hath need of him.32 And they that were sent went away, and found even as he had said unto them.33 And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? 34 And they said, The Lord hath need of him.35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they threw their garments upon the colt, and set Jesus thereon.36 And as he went, they spread their garments in the way.37 And as he was now drawing nigh, even
at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works which they had seen; 38 saying, Blessed is
the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.39 And some of the Pharisees from the multitude said unto him, Teacher, rebuke thy disciples.40 And he answered and said, I tell you that, if these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out.
41 And when he drew nigh, he saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, If thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.43 For the days shall come upon thee, when thine enemies shall cast up a bank about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44 and shall dash thee to 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.
45 And he entered into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold, 46 saying unto them, It is written, And my house shall be a house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of robbers.
47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people sought to destroy him: 48 and they could not find what they might do; for the people all hung upon him, listening.
The story of Luke is never lacking in human interest, but no scene is more suffused with sentiment, none more vivid with color, than that which pictures Jesus entering Jerusalem in triumph. We see our Lord mounted as a king, surrounded by acclaiming multitudes, sweeping over the brow of Olivet, while his attendant disciples spread their garments in the way and hail him as the Messiah. We see him lamenting over the doomed city and hear the harsh tones of the rulers who are plotting his death. With all these shouts of joy and sobs of grief and mutterings of malice, surely no scene is so full of emotion and none can illustrate more strikingly the relation between religious feeling and religious faith.
An appeal to the eye and ear and heart may awaken sentiment and prepare the way for the surrender of the will. There is to-day a proper place for music and architecture and eloquence as aids to devotion. In the case of the triumphal entry, Jesus planned every detail. He sent two disciples to secure the colt on which he was to ride; he allowed the disciples to place on the colt their garments, and as he rode toward the city he accepted the acclamations of the crowd. When the Pharisees criticized Jesus for permitting such praise and arousing such excitement, he declared that such homage to himself was not only proper but necessary, and that if the multitudes were silenced the very stones would |cry out| to welcome and to honor him. Jesus was offering himself as King for the last time, and therefore his offer was to be made in the most impressive way. He appealed to the imagination. He stirred the emotions. He did not mean that he was to be such a king as the people supposed; the borrowed colt, the garments of peasants, the banners of leafy branches were not to be the permanent furnishings of a court. He wished to secure the submission of their wills, the complete surrender of their lives, and therefore he made this stirring, dramatic, emotional appeal to the multitudes. He knew that religious feeling is an aid to religious faith.
However, religious feeling is not to be confused with religious faith. Emotion is no substitute for conviction. Jesus was not deceived. As he caught sight of the sacred city and heard the bitter criticism of the Pharisees, he realized the stubborn unbelief he was to encounter; he saw his rejection and death and the consequent destruction of Jerusalem and he pronounced his pathetic lament, |If thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto peace!| He predicted the ghastly horrors of the coming siege and the desolation of Zion and declared that it was due to inability to see that he had come as a Saviour and that his ministry had been a gracious visitation which might have resulted in repentance and in continued life for the nation. It is the sad, sad lament for what might have been.
Jesus entered the Temple and rebuked the rulers for allowing the house of God to be desecrated by degrading traffic. As the story closes we see Jesus standing in the center of the scene, on one hand the rulers plotting against his life, and on his other the multitudes hanging admiringly upon his words. Only too soon the rulers were to persuade the crowds to cry out for his crucifixion, and we are reminded that religious feeling unaccompanied by conviction may soon be chilled into indifference and hate.
There were those, however, like the disciples, who never forgot this scene of triumph. Its fuller meaning was appreciated in later years and as their trust in Christ strengthened, they looked back with ever deeper emotions upon the experiences of that memorable day; for it is true that religious feeling is after all a natural and inevitable consequence of religious faith.