Palm Sundayby Jesse Lyman Hurlbut
THE NEWS that Jesus was at Bethany went abroad, and very soon the village was thronged with people eager to see him. Many of these were nmen who had come from the country up to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover; and most of them were ready to believe in Jesus as the Christ, the promised King of Israel.
Some came to Bethany, not only to see Jesus, but to see Lazarus also, the man whom Jesus had raised from death to life. The rulers, who had already made up their minds to put Jesus to death and had paid Judas to give him up to them, said to each other:
"If we are to prevent these people from making Jesus of Nazareth their king, it will not be enough to kill Jesus; we must first kill Lazarus, for on his account many are following Jesus."
On the morning after the supper at Simon's house, Jesus decided to go into Jerusalem. He called two of his disciples and said to them:
"Go into the next village on the road to Jerusalem, and just on the edge of it you will find an ass tied, and with it a colt on which no one has ever ridden; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you doing that?' tell him, 'The Master needs them; and will send them back soon;' and he will let you take the ass and the colt."
The two disciples went to the village, and found in the street in front of a house an ass and a colt tied just as Jesus had said. They were untying them when the owner, who was standing by, said:
"What are you doing, untying the ass?"
"The Master needs it," answered the disciples; and when the man heard this, he allowed them to take the ass and the colt. They brought them to Jesus at Bethany; and on the ass-colt they laid their cloaks, to form a cushion for Jesus; and he sat upon the colt, which never before had been ridden upon. Then the crowd, seeing that Jesus was riding toward Jerusalem, walked with him, some going before and some following after.
Those in front spread their clothes upon the road before Jesus; others threw on the ground leaves from the field; while many waved branches of palm taken from the trees beside the road.
And before they came to the top of the Mount of Olives, which was between Bethany and Jerusalem, another crowd of people met them, coming from the city to see Jesus. And all the multitude shouted together:
"God save the King, the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the Lord's name! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David! Praises be to the Lord!"
For all this crowd of people believed that now, at last, the kingdom of God was to be set up, with Jesus as Christ and King. But in the multitude were some Pharisees, enemies of Jesus, who became very angry as they saw the crowd waving the palm branches and cheering for Jesus as King. These men came up to Jesus as he was riding and said to him:
"Teacher, tell your followers to stop this noise!"
"I tell you," answered Jesus, "that if these men should keep still, the very stones would cry out!"
Soon they came to the top of the Mount of Olives, and then the Temple and the city of Jerusalem were in sight before them.
As Jesus looked upon the city, the tears came into his eyes and he said:
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! If only you might know, even now, while yet there is time, what would give you peace! But no, it is hidden from your sight!
The time is coming when your enemies will build walls and forts around you, and shut you in on every side; and trample you down into the dust, and your children with you. They will not leave in you one stone standing upon another--and all because you would not understand when the Lord was visiting you."
Jesus rode down the Mount of Olives, and across the valley of the brook Kedron. At the gate of the Temple he got off from the back of the colt, and sent it with the ass back to its owner. As he came into the city and the Temple there was a great stir, the people everywhere flocking to meet him.
"Who is this?" they said; and the crowds answered, "This is the Prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee!"
The Pharisees said to each other, "We can do nothing! The whole world has gone after Jesus!"
Everybody, both the friends and enemies of Jesus, looked to have him take control of the city and act as a king. But Jesus only went into the Temple and walked around it. By this time it was evening, and Jesus returned with his disciples to Bethany.
Forty years after that time, the terrible things that Jesus declared were to fall upon Jerusalem, did come to pass. The Jews rose against the Romans and made war upon them. A mighty Roman army came, and swept over all the land, bringing ruin and death everywhere. The Romans laid siege to Jerusalem, and built a strong wall around it, so that no one could come out or go in.
The people fought desperately, until they were starved and could fight no more. At last the Romans broke into the Temple, and set the city on fire. Both the Temple and all the city were utterly destroyed; untold thousands of the people were slain, and many thousands more were sold as slaves.
And from that time, seventy years after Jesus was born, and forty years after he died on the cross, the Jews have not had of their own a land or a city.