The whole world was rolling down the ages in darkness to its doom. Did the hosts that populate the regions of unsullied light peer over the battlements of heaven and mark with sadness its downward course? Did these glorious beings shudder as from that dark world arose groans and curses, sobs and cries, ribald laughter, horrible blasphemy, shouts and yells of licensed massacre from multitudinous battlefields? Any help? Any hope? None! none! for who can stay a world that has cut itself loose from its God and has bidden an eternal defiance to its Creator?
And yet, it seems as they ponder over that insoluble enigma, the Eternal King rises from His throne and, laying aside the mantled splendor of deity, steps from star to star until He reaches the door of our dark world. As befits His dignity, there shines a light, unearthly in its brilliance, from the band of heaven’s glorious torch-bearers; there sounds a blare of trumpets from the heralds of the court of glory, the music of the spheres made audible for once! But for some sleepy shepherds, startled from their midnight watch on the slopes of Bethlehem’s pastures, the light that had ne’er shone on hill and dale before had shined forth unobserved, the cadences that ne’er had floated over the homes and haunts of men before had sounded in vain as far as this world was concerned. And when that door which separates this world of sense and sin from that world of spirit and glory had swung back for once in all its history inwards, the Lord of Glory entered as a little Child swaddled in the poor linen of a toiler’s home and cradled in a manger! And this was how the Lord of the Universe came to the dark world He had loved and lost awhile, which He yet loved with a love stronger than death, and, loving, sought amid the night of time until He found it.
The scene changes! It is no longer midnight. ‘Tis high noon. It is no longer the open courtyard of the Inn of Bethlehem; it is the road that, winding down the slopes of Olivet, climbs to the great gate of the city, the Holy City — Jerusalem. It is no longer a solitary silence broken by the champing of cattle and the faint, low cry of one in pain. It is the meeting of two crowds — the one bearing in its front a young Man in the prime of life riding on a colt and strewing the road with garments and greenery; the other pouring forth from the city’s portal, lining the way, and mingling their voices in the great cry of “Hosanna! O Save!” Listen how the two crowds unite in using the words penned many centuries before by the Psalmist (Ps. 118:26): “Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.” Time on tiptoe all down the ages had been shouting, “He is coming!” “He is coming!” has been the testimony of prophet, priest, and king. “He is on the way!” murmurs each gush of steaming blood that flows from every sacrifice. Trumpets caught up the whisper and pealed the glad tidings forth until the listening air, learning the lesson, repeated it in each wave of sound that broke on the encircling, everlasting hills.
And now the whole city is moved, for old men and children, young men and maidens, are streaming forth from court and alley, from terraced slope and darksome bazaar, and meeting the multitudes form the surrounding villages and hamlets, join their voices in a mighty shout, “Hosanna in the highest!”
We have seen Him come to the door of the world; now we see Him come to the gate of the capital. Again, if men’s ears had been trained to catch the strains of heavenly music, they would have heard the Glory Song, the sweet antiphon of the skies: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in.