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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody


Luke xix.37-43; Matthew xxi.17-23.


The ministry of Jesus is as a whole not easy to arrange in any fixed chronology. The order of events seems often to vary in the different gospels, and sometimes these unstudied narratives seem in positive conflict. But as the story draws to its close the paths of narrative begin to converge, and as we approach the last days and enter on the last week the incidents of each day become perfectly distinct, and one can trace the life of Jesus as it moves on from his triumph of Palm Sunday to his tragedy of the cross. As we enter then to-day on the anniversary of the last week of the life of Jesus, the week before Easter Sunday, let us glance at some of the hurrying events. And for today consider the contrast which presents itself between the entrance of Jesus at Jerusalem on Sunday morning, and his return to the city by the same road on this Monday {149} morning of his last week. Yesterday he came over the brow of the Mount of Olives, surrounded by an enthusiastic throng, the centre of their popularity. To-day he comes along the same road, unattended and alone, the crowd slinking away from him, his popularity gone. And how does he bear himself through these shillings of opinion? He simply does not manifest any consciousness of change. He is as undisturbed by neglect as he was yesterday by success. On Sunday, while the people were spreading their branches beneath his feet, he looked across the valley to the city and wept as he looked; and to-day, coming with no popular applause, he enters straight into the city and asserts to its leaders his supreme authority. In the midst of popularity he seems saddened, and in the midst of neglect he seems stirred to a defiant boldness. In short, he is unscathed alike by what seems to be success and what seems to be failure. He goes his way through it all with his eye on that great end which gives him peace amid the throng, and courage amid the solitude.

That is the only way in which one can maintain himself among the shifting currents {150} of popularity. It comes and goes like a tide. The man who tries to lean on it is simply swept by the rising tide into self-conceit, and then stranded by the ebb of that same tide on the flats of despair. Popularity is as fickle as the April winds, and one can trust it as little as he dare trust the New England climate. It is only he who can be wholly self-controlled amid the triumphs of his Palm Sunday who can move on with equal self-control to the bearing of the cross with which that same week may close.

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