Palm Sunday The Gospel Matt. 21.v.1 Sunday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
GOSPEL (Matt. 21:1-9)
At that time, And when they drew nigh to Jerusalem and were come to Bethphage, unto mount Olivet, then Jesus sent two disciples, Saying to them: "Go ye into the village that is over against you: and immediately you shall find an ass tied and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to me. And if any man shall say anything to you, say ye that the Lord hath need of them. And forthwith he will let them go." Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: "Tell ye the daughter of Sion: 'Behold thy king cometh to thee, meek and sitting upon an ass and a colt, the foal of her that is used to the yoke.' " And the disciples going, did as Jesus commanded them. And they brought the ass and the colt and laid their garments upon them and made him sit thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way: and others cut boughs from the trees and strewed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before and that followed cried, saying: "Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest."
When the jews had been in captivity in Egypt about four hundred years, almighty God pitying their great oppression and servitude: sent his servant Moses to the King in many signs & miracles, to deliver them; threatening grievous punishments unless he did.
The king in none of these would let them go.
At last God commanded the Jews, that upon a certain night every household should kill a lamb, and eat him at Supper, with certain ceremonies belonging thereunto, and sprinkle the blood upon the posts of their doors: and that night God sent an Angel, that killed the first born of every house, whose door posts, were not sprinkled with blood, which were indeed all the Egyptians with whom the Jews promiscously dwelt: and all those house, that were sprinkled with blood, which were only the Jews, he over passed with this grievous plague.
Pharao (for so the kings of Egypt were usually called) was not only content, but desirous they should depart; for it spared not him more then the rest.
They departed, and when they came to the red sea, which was their way, the Sea opened and stood like a wall one each side, yielding them free passage, as in a dry way.
Pharao harding his heart against them, pursued them with a great army to have brought them back, & seeing the red sea had given passage to the Jews, and stood as if it would have done the like to him, he and all his army marched after them, and being all entered in, the sea closed upon them, and drowned every mothers son, in so much that, there was not a man left, as the Scripture saith, to carry word, what was become of them.
In remembrance of this benefit, God commanded the Jews every year upon that day, which was the Fourteenth of the moon, of March (for the Jews reckoned by the moon, not by the month as we do) that every household should kill & eat a lamb, the day which they called in their language, phase, that is to say, their passover, because the striking Angel passed over their houses, and thy themselves over the red Sea; and the lamb, they called the paschal lamb keeping it a most solemn Feast.
This they were commanded to do, not only as a thankful remembrance of that benefit past, but as a figure of a far greater to some, to wit, redemption of all mankind, by the death and passion of Christ the immaculate lamb of God, that took away the sins of the world; wherein the Jews were principally intended, if they had grace to have made use thereof, as few of them did.
Wherefore i remembrance of this benefit, of our redemption, the old law of the Jews being abolished, & a new instituted by Christ, we of the new law, do solomnly keep the same Feast after a new fashion, calling it in Latin our Paschal Feast, & in English our Easter; Christ being, as St. Paul saith, our paschal lamb, who sacrificed himself for our redemption, the same passage over or paschal Feast.
And although the Jews were commanded not to eat their paschal lamb, till the fourteenth of the moon of March, as aforesaid: yet were they to bring it into their house, four or five days before, partly to have it ready against the day, partly to go often times to behold it, and to hear it bleat, that they might the better remember the benefit of their delivery: So we, though good Friday be the day we represent the death of Christ our paschal lamb; yet we do as it were bring him in they Sunday, by reading the gospel how he rode into Jerusalem upon an Ass; and going in procession with hallowed palms in our hands, in sign of the victory, which Christ was to achieve by his death, over the devil, hell and sin; and singing the song of Hosanna, in congratulation thereof: as the people did, when he rode into Jerusalem upon an Ass.
And more over we read in the service of Church the passion of Christ four times this week, according to the four Evangelists that wrote it; upon Palm Sunday, that of Saint Matthew upon upon Tuesday, that of Saint Mark, upon Wednesday, that of St. Luke, upon good Friday, that of Saint John, besides diverse other dolorous ceremonies & representations, on those days in our Churches, which all are done and exhibited to the end, we may see, hear, compassionate and imitate our paschal lamb: see him in our meditation and prayer, hear him in the history of his passion; not bleat (for he was as patient and silent, as a sheep according to the prophet of Esaie under the hands of his shearer, not opening his mouth) but hear his intolerable abuses, which were enough to make any man, if he were but a mere man, and not God and man, as he was, to burst forth into fury, and indignation; Compassionate him, because our sins, amongst the rest of the world, were the cause thereof; imitate him, as the Masterpiece of all patient and silent suffering: especially if it be for the profession of our religion, or any such good cause, which is the best suffering of all, and by those holy exercises to prepare ourselves to the worthy celebration of this high feast of Easter.