Courting public notice

In these times of instant news and events being spread across the world like wildfire through social media such as Twitter and Facebook, it might be hard to remember that in the time of Jesus, no one was tweeting or posting their Facebook status. J.C. Ryle comments:

Let us mark, for another thing, in this passage, the public visibility of our Lord’s last entry into Jerusalem.We are told of His riding in on an donkey, like a king visiting his capital, or a conqueror returning in triumph to his native land. We read of a “multitude of disciples” surrounding Him as He rode into the city, “rejoicing and praising God with a loud voice.” The whole history is strikingly unlike the general tenor of our Lord’s life. On other occasions, we see Him withdrawing from public observation, retiring into the wilderness, charging those whom He healed to tell no man what was done. On the present occasion all is changed. Reserve is completely thrown aside. He seems to court public notice. He appears desirous that all should see Him, and should mark, note, and observe what He did.

The reasons of our Lord’s conduct at this crisis of His ministry, at first sight, may appear hard to discover. On calm reflection they are clear and plain. He knew that the time had come when He was to die for sinners on the cross. His work as the great Prophet, so far as His earthly ministry was concerned, was almost finished and completed. His work as the sacrifice for sin and substitute for sinners, remained to be accomplished. Before giving Himself up as a sacrifice, He desired to draw the attention of the whole Jewish nation to Himself. The Lamb of God was about to be slain. The great sin-offering was about to be killed. It was fit that the eyes of all Israel should be fixed upon Him. This great thing was not to be done in a corner.

Forever let us bless God that the death of our Lord Jesus Christ was so widely known and so public an event. Had He been suddenly stoned in some popular tumult, or privately beheaded like John the Baptist in prison, there never would have been lacking Jewish and Gentile unbelievers, who would have denied that the Son of God had died at all. The wisdom of God so ordered events that such a denial was rendered impossible. Whatever men may think of the doctrine of Christ’s atoning death, they can never deny the fact that Christ died. Publicly He rode into Jerusalem a few days before His death. Publicly He was seen and heard in the city until the day that He was betrayed. Publicly He was brought before the High Priests and Pilate, and condemned. Publicly He was led forth to Calvary, and nailed to the cross. The corner-stone and crowning-event in our Lord’s ministry was His death for sinners. Of all the events of His ministry, that death was the one most public, and the one witnessed by the greatest number of Jews. And that death was the “life of the world.” (John 6:51.)