Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.
(from Bethany to Jerusalem and Back, Sunday, April 2, a.d.30.)

^A Matt. XXI.1-12, 14-17; ^B Mark XI.1-11; ^C Luke XIX.29-44; ^D John XII.12-19.

^c 29 And ^d 12 On the morrow [after the feast in the house of Simon the leper] ^c it came to pass, when he he drew nigh unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, ^a 1 And when they came nigh unto Jerusalem, and came unto Bethphage unto { ^b at} ^a the mount of Olives [The name, Bethphage, is said to mean house of figs, but the derivation is disputed. Canon Cook and others think that the region on the eastern slope of Olivet was called Bethphage, and that Bethany was located in it. If it was a village, all trace of it has long since vanished, and it is not worth while to give the guesses and surmises of commentators as to its location. But it was evidently near Bethany], then Jesus sent { ^b sendeth} two of his { ^c the} disciples, ^b 2 and saith { ^a 2 saying} unto them, ^c Go your way into the village [probably Bethphage, for Jesus started from Bethany] ^a that is over against you, ^b and straightway as ye enter into it, ^a ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt ^b tied, ^a with her: ^b whereon no man ever sat; loose him, { ^a them, } ^b and bring him. { ^a them } unto me. [Numerous Scripture references show that the ass was held in high estimation in the East. The sons of the judges used them, and David's mule was used at the coronation of Solomon (Judg. x.4; I. Kings i.33). It is specifically stated that no man had ever sat upon this colt, for if the colt had been used by men it would have been unfit for sacred purposes -- Num. xix.2; Deut. xxi.3; I. Sam. vi.7.] 3 And if any one say aught unto you, 31; ^c And if any one ask you, { ^b say unto you,} Why do ye this? ^c Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say, The Lord hath need of him. { ^a them;} ^b and straightway he will send him. { ^a them.} ^b back hither. [The owner of the ass was no doubt a disciple or well-wisher of Jesus, and therefore readily consented to respond to the Master's need. Such a well-wisher might readily be found in a multitude ready to lay their garments in the road to honor Christ. The words "send him back" are usually construed to be a promise on the part of Christ that he would return the colt when through with him. But such a promise seems rather out of keeping with the dignity of the occasion. We prefer to construe the words as referring to the movements of Christ's two messengers from the neighborhood of Bethany to Bethphage and back again, or to a backward movement along the caravan's line of march.] ^a 4 Now this is come to pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Zion [the poetical name for the city of Jerusalem], Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, Meek, and riding upon an ass, And upon a colt the foal of an ass. [The prophecy is a combination of Isa. lxii.11 and Zech. ix.9. This is the only instance in which Jesus rode. He entered in meekness, for the ass was a symbol of peace as the horse was of war (Job xxxix.19-25), but there was nothing degrading about riding such a beast. The Eastern ass is smaller, but livelier, and better framed than the specimens found in our country. They constituted a chief asset in the property of the wealthy -- Gen. xii.16; xxx.43; Job xlii.12; I. Chron. xxvii.30; I. Kings i.38.] 6 And the disciples { ^c they} that were sent away, ^a and did even as Jesus appointed them, ^c and found even as he had said unto them ^b a colt tied at the door without in the open street [the streets being narrow, one would very seldom see an ass tied in one]; and they loose him. ^c 33 And as they were loosing the colt, ^b certain of them that stood there ^c the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? ^b What do ye, loosing the colt? 6 And they said unto them even as Jesus had said: and they let them go.7 And they bring { ^a brought} the ass, and the colt, { ^c him} ^b unto Jesus, ^a and put on them their garments [The garments were the loose cloaks worn over the tunics or shirts. This cloak survives in the abba or hyke of the modern Arab. The unbroken colt would of course have no saddle, and these loyal disciples lent their cloaks to supply the deficiency, and to do Jesus royal honor. Compare the enthronement of Jehu (II. Kings ix.13). They prepared both beasts, not knowing which he would choose to ride]; ^c and they threw { ^b cast} ^c their garments upon the colt, and set Jesus thereon. ^a and he sat thereon. { ^b upon him.} ^d a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took the branches of the palm trees, and went forth to meet him [Palm-trees were never abundant in Palestine, but there were many around Jericho, through which city these Galilean pilgrims had so recently come. They were date palms, the leaves of which were often ten feet in length. They are now comparatively rare, but are found in the plains of Philistia. The palm branch is emblematic of triumph and victory -- Lev. xxiii.40; Rev. vii.9; I. Macc. xiii.51; II. Macc. x.7], and cried out, Hosanna: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel [The shouting appears to have been started by those who came out of Jerusalem; it is evident, therefore, that the apostles who were approaching the city with Jesus had nothing to do with inciting this praise.] 14 And Jesus having found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, 15 Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.16 These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. [The apostles were not conscious that the prophecies were being fulfilled nor did they understand that Jesus was approaching a heavenly rather than an earthly coronation. But after Jesus was glorified, their understandings were spiritually illuminated (John xvi.13). They not only remembered the prophecy, but saw in what sense it was that Jesus was king, and how badly mistaken they had been when they expected him to antagonize the Romans. The greatness of her king would have removed all cause for fear if Jerusalem had but accepted him.] 17 The multitude therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him from the dead, bare witness. [The two parts of the miracle -- the calling and the raising -- are both mentioned as alike impressive, sublime, and wonderful.] 18 For this cause also the multitude went and met him, for that they heard that he had done this sign. [It is evident from this that the testimony of those who witnessed the raising of Lazarus had enthused the pilgrims in Jerusalem and had sent a large band of them forth charged with that ardent admiration which produced the shouting of the triumphal entry.] 19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Behold how ye prevail nothing: lo, the world is gone after him. [Again, as at John xi.47-49, we notice the self-confessed impotency of the Pharisees, but the Sadducees, under the determined and more resolute leadership of Caiaphas, did not participate in this despair. The Pharisees speak of the world as if its acquisition by Jesus was their loss.] ^c 36 And as he went, ^a the most part of the multitude { ^b many} [Matthew would have us know that the demonstration was no small affair, but was well-nigh universal. Josephus estimates that the number present at one passover was three million, or about one-half the population of Judæa and Galilee. The language of the Pharisees in verse 19 above -- "the world" -- shows that there must have been indeed an immense multitude. The people had always been ready to acknowledge Jesus as king, and, seeing that he had now an evident disposition to accept their homage, they hastened to render it] spread their garments { ^a in} ^b the way; and others ^a spread ^b branches, ^a in the way. ^b which they { ^a cut} ^b had cut from the fields. { ^a trees,} [It has been the custom of all lands to bestrew in some manner the pathway of those who are thought worthy of the highest honor. When Lafayette visited our fathers after the Revolution, the roads over which he approached our cities were strewn with flowers. Thus over flowers Alexander entered Babylon, and Xerxes crossed the bridge of the Hellespont over a myrtle-strewn pathway. Monier tells of a Persian ruler who in modern times made his honored progress over a road for three miles covered with roses. But it is more natural to contrast the entry of Jesus with the Roman triumphs so popular in that day. The wealth of conquered kingdoms was expended to insure their magnificence. We find none of that tinsel and specious glitter in the triumph of Christ. No hired multitudes applaud him; no gold-broidered banners wave in his honor. There is nothing here but the lusty, honest shout of the common people, and the swaying of the God-made banners of the royal palms. The rich in purse, the learned in schoolcraft and the high in office were, as usual, not there -- I. Cor. i.26.] ^c 37 And as he was now drawing nigh, even at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works which they had seen [John has shown us just above that the raising of Lazarus was most prominent in their thoughts]; ^a 9 The multitudes that went before him, and that followed [Jesus approached the city leading a multitude of pilgrims, and we have seen from John's account above that another multitude came out of the city to meet him: Jesus approached the city between two great multitudes.] cried, saying, ^b Hosanna [This is the Greek form or spelling of two Hebrew words, Hoshiah-na, which means, Save now, or, Save, I pray, na being a particle of entreaty added to imperatives. The two words are taken from Ps. cxviii.25, which was recognized as the Messianic Psalm. The shout "Hosanna" was customarily used at the feast of the tabernacles and the other festivals. It was a shout of exaltation about equivalent to "Salvation"]; ^a Hosanna to the Son of David [see p.357]: blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord [Ps. cxviii.26]; ^c blessed is the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: ^b 10 blessed is the kingdom that cometh, the kingdom of our father David: ^c peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. ^a Hosanna in the highest. [This phrase is taken to mean in the highest degree or highest strains or in the highest heavens. It is likely they were calling upon heaven to participate in glorifying and to ratify their shouts of salvation. The Evangelists give us the various cries of the multitude, for they did not all cry one thing. The cries, if seriously construed, were a fore-recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus, but popular cries are soon caught up and are as fickle as the impulses which beget them. But the public recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus gave weight to the accusation made by Simon Peter on the day of Pentecost that they had slain the Messiah -- Acts ii.36. Comp. Acts iii.14, 15.] ^c 39 And some of the Pharisees from the multitude [not a committee sent from Jerusalem for that purpose] said unto him, Teacher, rebuke thy disciples. [It is possible that these may have been moved with an honest fear that the enthusiasm of the people would call down the vengeance of the Romans (John xi.48), but it is more likely that they were prompted solely by envy.] 40 And he answered and said, I tell you that, if these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out. [The expression is probably proverbial (Hab. ii.11). The meaning is that the occasion of the great King's visit to his city (Matt. v.35) was so momentous that, if man withheld his praise, inanimate nature would lend its acclamations.] 41 And when he drew nigh, he saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, If thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. [The summit of Olivet is two hundred feet higher than the nearest part of the city of Jerusalem and a hundred feet higher than its farthest part, so that the Lord looked upon the whole of it as one looks upon an open book. As he looked upon it he realized the difference between what his coming might mean to it and what it did mean to it; between the love and gratitude which his coming should have incited and the hatred and violence which it did incite; between the forgiveness, blessing and peace which he desired to bring it and the judgment, wrath and destruction which were coming upon it. The vision of it all excited strong emotion, and the verb used does not indicate silent tears, but audible sobbing and lamentation. The day then passing was among the last before the crucifixion, which would present to the Jews a strong motive for repentance. Had Jerusalem hearkened unto Jesus then, he would have saved her from that self-exaltation which proved her ruin. But bigotry and prejudice blinded her eyes.] 43 For the days shall come upon thee, when thine enemies shall cast up a bank about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side. [from where Jesus then stood he could see the houses which were to be thrown down, he could locate the embankments which would be built, and he could trace almost every foot of the line of the wall by which Titus in his anger girdled the city when his embankments were burned -- Jos. Wars V.6.2, 11.4-6, 12.1, 2], 44 and shall dash thee to the ground, and thy children within thee [the city is figuratively spoken of as a mother, and her citizens as her children]; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. [The term "visitation" usually refers to a season of judgment, but here, as elsewhere also (Ex. iv.31), it means a season of grace. To not leave one stone upon another is a proverbial expression descriptive of a complete demotion, but in the overthrow of Jerusalem it was well-nigh literally fulfilled. Thus, while the people rejoiced in the present triumph, the prophetic eye and ear of our Lord beheld the judgments which were coming upon the city, heard the bitter cry of the starved defenders during the siege, the screams of the crucified left to perish upon their crosses after its capture, all ending in the final silence of desolation when not one stone was left upon another.] ^b 11 And he entered into Jerusalem [his route led him down the steep face of Olivet, past Gethsemane, across the stone bridge which spans the Kedron, and up the slope of Moriah to the eastern gate of the city], ^a 10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, Who is this? 11 And the multitude said, This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.12 And Jesus entered into the temple of God [here Matthew tells of the cleansing of the temple, which evidently occurred the next day], 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.15 But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children that were crying in the temple and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, 16 and said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; did ye never read [Ps. viii.2 as rendered by the LXX.] , Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? [Matthew mingles this scene with events which apparently occurred on Monday, but the enthusiasm and the Hosanna cry evidently belonged to the triumphant Sunday. The presence of our Lord in the temple should, indeed, have been heralded with joy, for as that was the day in which the paschal lamb was presented and set apart, it was fitting that Christ our passover should be presented there amidst rejoicing.] ^b and when he had looked round about upon all things, it being now eventide. [a general expression covering the period both before and after sunset], ^a he left them, and went forth out of the city ^b unto Bethany with the twelve ^a and lodged there. [Having inspected the temple as his Father's house, Jesus withdrew from it, for in the present state of rancor which fermented within his enemies it was not safe for him to spend the night within Jerusalem.]

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