Honor, Shame, and Glory

“As they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.”
—Luke 19:11

ON APRIL 8 THE PROFESSED Christian world will observe what is known as Palm Sunday; and on April 15, the resurrection of Jesus will be commemorated. Palm Sunday is in commemoration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem, when he was hailed as King by his friends and followers, and when they “Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (John 12:13) It was a moment of high honor in the life of Jesus. The Pharisees, in their selfish jealousy, were greatly wrought up over the situation, and said, “behold, the world is gone after him.”—John 12:19

The royal, or kingly, promises of God had all been made to the nation of Israel. It was to this nation that the King came in fulfillment of these promises. For this reason it was essential that Jesus should present himself formally to the nation as king. Besides, it had been foretold that he would do this, and it was essential that the prophecy be fulfilled. (Zech. 9:9) Jesus’ disciples and friends were highly elated over this experience, for it betokened to them that the Messianic kingdom was soon to make its appearance in power and great glory.

As Jesus said to two of them after his resurrection, they were “slow of heart to believe,” (Luke 24:25) for just prior to this he had related to them a parable, which, had they comprehended its meaning, would have taught them not to expect the kingdom at that time. It was the parable of the pounds. The opening words of the parable are, “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.”—Luke 19:12-14

This is the parable referred to in our text, the one which was given for the very purpose of alerting the disciples to the fact that the ‘citizens’ of King Jesus, the Jewish nation, would hate him and would not have him rule over them. But, for the time at least, the intended purpose of the parable was not accomplished. Later they realized, through the compelling logic of events, that their king was hated, and that he might indeed be killed. They seemed to remember vaguely that the parable had said the king would go away, and later return; for they went to Jesus on the Mount of Olives, and said, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming [parousia, ‘presence’], and of the end of the world [aion, ‘age’]?”—Matt. 24:3

This seems to indicate that for the moment, at least, they had grasped the idea that Jesus was going away, and that he would return. But their spiritual vision was not entirely clear, for when Jesus subsequently was put to death, they were scattered and perplexed.

Had they not been ‘slow of heart to believe’ they would have known not only that Jesus was going away, but that he would be taken away from them by death. About the time when his friends hailed him as king, and the Pharisees became concerned that the whole world had ‘gone after him,’ certain Greeks sought an audience with the Master. The disciples reported this to him, and, in refusing to see them, his answer was, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”—John 12:20-24

These words must have sounded strange to the disciples. Doubtless they thought that their Master had already been glorified. Had not the crowd shouted, ‘Hosanna, Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord’? But Jesus knew that this was not his real glorification. Before he could actually be glorified, he must die as the Redeemer of the world, for otherwise, like the ‘corn of wheat,’ he would remain alone. Conceivably, through the exercise of Divine power, Jesus could have established his kingdom at that time. Had he done so without dying to redeem the human race from death, he alone would have eternal life, while all his subjects would continue to die.

Again, the disciples failed to grasp the significance of the Master’s words. Later he explained to them that he was going away to prepare a “place” for them, and added, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” Thomas replied, “We know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (John 14:2-5) He was right. They had not yet grasped the fact that Jesus was to die, be raised from the dead, and glorified as a Divine being. Nor did they yet know the way to glory, although they had been invited to follow him.

Only a short time before this James and John had asked to sit, one on Jesus’ right hand, and the other on his left hand, in his glory. Jesus explained that to share his glory it would be necessary to drink his “cup” of suffering, and be “baptized” with him into death. (Matt. 20:22) They said they were willing to go through these experiences, but their understanding of what was implied was evidently vague, for now Thomas admitted that they did not know the ‘way’ to the place of glory to which Jesus was going.


In another effort to prepare his disciples for the fact that he would be taken away from them in death, Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.” To this the people answered, “We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up?” (John 12:32-34) The context shows that the ‘people’ who asked this question were not Jesus’ disciples, but rather those who did not believe on him, yet they understood from his remark that he expected to die, and that he would die on the cross.

As the people remarked, however, they understood from the Law that the Christ, the Messiah, would not die, but would continue forever. The disciples had accepted Jesus as the Messiah, so they, too, were sure that he would not die. Thus, their great faith in him as being the Messiah was one of the things which tended to obscure from them the meaning of all that he said relating to the fact of his death and the establishment of his kingdom at a later time. This was a case of being blinded by a ‘dark saying,’ hence not able to see and appreciate its fuller unfolding.

It is true that the Messiah will abide forever, but first it was necessary that he should die to redeem those over whom he would reign. It is true that of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, but before he can draw all men unto him it was necessary that he be lifted up upon the cross to die, the “just for the unjust.” (I Pet. 3:18) Thus it was that although Jesus’ disciples loved him dearly, and would gladly have given their lives to save him from death, yet when he came to the end of the way, “then all the disciples forsook him.” That is, none of them did or could understand the significance of what was taking place.—Matt. 26:56

Shame and ignominy were heaped upon the Master. He was derided, blasphemed, and beaten. A crown of thorns was crushed upon his bleeding head. On the cross he was further disgraced, but one of the thieves being crucified with him, noting the inscription at the top of the cross stating that Jesus was a king, and grasping at a straw of hope, said, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”—Luke 23:42

How clearly the Master had the whole situation in mind! In the parable he had shown that he would go into a ‘far country’ and when he would return establish his kingdom. Now, although he was dying, he possessed unbounded faith in his Father’s plan. He knew that he would receive the promised kingdom, and that its control over the affairs of men would reestablish paradise conditions worldwide. He knew that even the dead would be raised and have an opportunity to enjoy the blessings of that kingdom, and that the thief would thus have his opportunity, together with the others. So, grasping this very much ‘out of season’ opportunity to give a witness for the Truth, he replied, “Verily I say unto thee this day; with me shalt thou be in paradise.”—Luke 23:43, Rotherham Emphasized Bible

Jesus’ final words on the cross were, “Father, into they hands I commend my spirit”—my life. (Luke 23:46) Thus died the King of glory. All nature seemed to join in the mourning. The ground shook, the sky was darkened; and so were the minds of his trusting, and now bewildered, followers. The One whom they so surely thought would live forever had died. It was a grim and confusing climax to that series of events crowded into his last few days which, paradoxically, began with their hero riding into Jerusalem as king, accompanied by the hosanna cheers of his disciples and friends. They had honored and exalted him, but his enemies had killed him.


We all know what occurred after the enemies of Jesus had put him to death. Peter related this most eloquently, saying to those who had witnessed the miracle of healing a man lame from his birth, “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.”—Acts 3:13-15

After his resurrection Jesus himself announced, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matt. 28:18) But he did not then exercise that power by establishing the long-promised kingdom. Instead, and as he had foretold in the parable, after he appeared to his disciples a few times he “went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.” (Luke 19:12) He commissioned his disciples to represent him, to ‘occupy’ until he returned. They were to be his witnesses throughout the entire world, proclaiming the fact that he would return, and that through the kingdom all the families of the earth would be blessed.

At Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the waiting disciples to empower them properly to represent their absent Lord. By its enlightening influence, great truths stated to them by Jesus, and outlined by the prophets, became understandable. They now saw clearly what Jesus meant by ‘taking up their cross’ and following him into death. How could they, prior to this, know the meaning of dying with Jesus when they did not believe Jesus would die? Their only thought then was that they would reign with the Master, and when James and John requested special positions of honor in his kingdom, the other ten were disturbed, and complained.

Now they knew that they would have to drink of his ‘cup’ and be ‘baptized’ with his baptism in order to prove worthy of reigning with him, and they preached it to those who had ears to hear. Nor did they now have any illusions that the kingdom would be immediately set up. They knew that Jesus had gone into the ‘far country’ of the parable, even heaven itself; and as all their hopes of life and glory centered in his promise to return, they looked forward to his “glorious appearing,” (Titus 2:13) while daily they presented their bodies a living sacrifice in his service.

Soon after the apostles fell asleep in death, the church began to lose sight of the glorious hope of the Master’s return. Ignoring his teachings on the subject, many tried to imagine that the kingdom of Christ was merely a holy influence in the lives of believers, and that when the whole world became believers, his kingdom would have fully come. Others ambitiously endeavored to exercise kingly authority through the arm of civil power. Between these two blinding errors, the hope of Christ’s return to set up his kingdom was lost by the vast majority of his professed followers.

Jesus expected that matters would turn out this way, and related a number of parables in which he foretold this apostasy of the kingdom hope. Speaking of the time of his return, he said, “When the Son of man comes, will he find this belief [the faith] on the land?” (Luke 18:8, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott) Many still profess to believe in his teachings, but they have no hope that Divine power will actually be used to establish his kingdom. Millions this year, as every year, will go to church on April 15 as a token of their belief that Jesus was raised from the dead, oblivious of the fact that Divine power did not cease to operate for the ultimate blessing of mankind when that mighty miracle was performed.

Yet this is the real essence of the resurrection story to all who know the plan of God and have confidence in his ability to perform all his good pleasure. The fact that the King of glory was killed did not interfere with the outworking of God’s plan. Nor do nineteen centuries of bloodshed among the nations, and divisions, strife, and persecution among the professed people of God, mean that the fulfillment of his kingdom promises has failed, or has been delayed.

To us the risen Christ is a sure token that all of God’s good purposes will come to pass! And now that his Second Presence has become evident to the faithful watchers, and therefore the kingdom so near, our hearts should truly burn within us as we meditate on the kingdom theme, discuss it with one another, and proclaim it to the whole world. As shown in the parable, it is after the king’s return that he reckons with his servants, and it is our privilege now to prove our worthiness of reigning with him by faithfully using the ‘pound’ which he has entrusted to us. Let’s not hide it in a ‘napkin!’

The commission Jesus gave to his disciples to preach the Gospel is just as binding upon us as it was upon them. When the women first met the risen Lord by the empty tomb, the instruction of the angel to them was, “Go your way, tell his disciples.” (Mark 16:7) So, today, our message still is, “The Lord is risen indeed.” (Luke 24:34) The greatest miracle of all time was performed. The Lord of hosts by his ‘zeal’ manifested his ability to perform all his good pleasure. Now we can witness to the fact that God’s miracle-working power will continue to operate for the establishment and manifestation of the Messianic kingdom, that the hope of the world does not rest in the frustrated plans and efforts of the institutions of men.

When the women bore the glad tidings of Jesus’ resurrection to the disciples, their message was looked upon as “idle tales.” (Luke 24:11) It is still thus with the majority of those to whom we bear witness. But some believe, and as the utter failure of human plans becomes more and more apparent, greater numbers will turn aside from their mad rush for pleasure and gold, to give ear to the tidings that the King has returned, that the Prince of peace is here, and that soon God’s good will toward all the families of the earth will be revealed by the “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.”—Rev. 22:1

So, dear brethren, continue to ‘go your way and tell’ the glad tidings. Let us tell it in every way we can. Cooperatively, let us continue to tell it over the radio, television, internet, public meetings, and via witnessing parties. Individually, let us be on the alert to use our every opportunity to tell the glad tidings, either by word of mouth or by the printed page. Never were there such golden opportunities for making known the glad tidings!

It was difficult for the disciples in Jesus’ day to realize that the kingdom was not then ‘immediately to appear,’ but no longer is this true; for the King has returned, the kingdom is at hand. The wrath of the enemies that slew him has been overruled by God for the redemption of the world, and he has been raised from the dead and glorified. He no longer remains in the ‘far country.’ The heavens no longer retain him. He is even now reckoning with his servants. He is serving his household with ‘meat in due season.’ The bright shining of his presence is enlightening and warming the hearts of his people, where the “Day Star” has already arisen. (II Pet. 1:19) How can any of us, then, hold back from giving all that we have and are in proving our worthiness of being glorified together with him, that we may live and reign with him a thousand years.—Rev. 20:4

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