And when they drew near to Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, to the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,…
Our Lord had now entered on the last week of his life upon earth, but, save in his own heart, there is no premonition of his death. Having spent the sabbath in Bethany, he proceeds on Sunday morning to the city. That was the day, four days before the Passover, on which the Jews were commanded to choose the Paschal lamb. Our Lord, conscious of his calling to die for his people, puts himself into their hands. He now feels that his hour has come, and proclaims himself as the promised Messiah, the King of Peace, by entering into Jerusalem, the metropolis of peace, in a manner which no one could fail to interpret, as One who would certainly furnish men with that which would not give one strong race power over others, but which would weld all men together and give them common feelings and interests, and restore in truth the unity of men. The points in the entry which Matthew considered significant are -
I. OUR LORD'S PROCLAMATION OF HIMSELF AS KING OF PEACE BY RIDING INTO JERUSALEM ON AN ASS. He did not choose a horse, because that animal would have suggested royalty of quite another kind from his - royalty which was maintained by war and outward force.
1. What is it, then, that Christ claims? No one could have the slightest doubt that he claimed to fulfil Old Testament prophecy, and to be that very Person who was to come and bring with him to earth everything which the love of God could bestow. He professes his willingness to take command of earth, not in the easier sense of being able to lay down a political constitution for all races, but in the sense of being able to satisfy every individual, to give peace to every soul, however distracted by trouble and overwhelmed by sin. And some have through him actually entered into such peace that they are impregnable to this world's assaults, and have gained the mastery over its temptations. They have found him to be all he claims to be.
2. They proclaimed him as the Saviour and King of men, and he accepted these offices in a very different spirit from that in which they were ascribed to him. He knew that to be the King of a people so down trodden with sin, so entangled in ancient evils, was full of danger and suffering; that in order to deliver such a people he must die for them. And it is his expectation that we on our side should open our eyes to what he has done, and acknowledge him as our King. We must not grudge if it comes in the way of our duty to him to make real sacrifices.
3. It must, indeed, have been a humbling experience for our Lord to have himself ushered into Jerusalem by a crowd through whose hosannas he already heard the mutter of their curses. Such is the homage a perfect life has won.
II. ALTHOUGH OUR LORD MAKES NO MOAN OVER HIS OWN FATE AS THE REJECTED MESSIAH, HE QUITE BREAKS DOWN AT THE THOUGHT OF THE DOOM OF HIS REJECTERS. Terrible, indeed, must the responsibility often have seemed to him of being set as the test of men, of being the occasion of so many being found wanting. Are we in a condition so full of hazard and foreboding that it might justly bring tears to the eyes of Christ?
III. THE WITHERING OF THE FRUITLESS FIG TREE WAS A SYMBOLIC ACT. Our Lord saw in it the very image of Jerusalem. There was there an exuberant display of all kinds of religious activity, with absolutely nothing that could feed the soul or satisfy God. And the withering of the fig tree reveals the other side of our Lord's character in connection with this rejection by the Jews. He wept, but he also pronounced doom. To calculate our own future we must keep in view not only the tears of Christ, but also his judgment. Throughout his life the one is as prominent as the other. Words which were rarely or never heard from the sternest Old Testament prophet are common on his lips. There is a day of visitation for each man - a day in which to us in our turn there appears a possibility and an invitation to enter into the presence of God, and be forever satisfied in him and with his likeness. Picture to yourself the shame of being a failure, such a failure that the truest love and most inventive wisdom must give yon up and pronounce you useless. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,