And when they came near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sends forth two of his disciples,…
To Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, the order of mention being determined by reckoning from the place whither the movement was being made. They began, therefore, with Bethany. It was familiar ground, fragrant with tender associations with both the human and the Divine.
I. PREPARATIONS. The triumph was foreseen by Christ, and he made arrangements for its being celebrated with becoming order and dignity.
1. The unforeseen and unexpected was foreseen and prepared for by Christ. If Divine advents are delayed, or Divine celebrations fail of their loftiest end, it is not because of failure or unreadiness in him. He was willing to have made this triumph a real, permanent, and universal one. He is ever in advance of the event, whether it be a triumph or a crucifixion. Above all, he was ready in himself.
2. It was to his own disciples he looked for a supply of what was required for his triumph. He appealed to their recognition of his authority - " the Lord." The claim was allowed by the stranger who owned the colt. It was freely given when asked. Christians are to make ready for their Lord's triumph. They have all that he needs, if it be but freely rendered. He will throne himself amidst their gifts if they have him enthroned in their hearts. Nothing but what is freely rendered is acceptable to him or desired by him. It should be enough for a disciple to know what the Lord will have him do and of what the Lord has need.
II. THE TRIUMPH. It was a simple procession, gradually increasing in volume and excitement as it approached the city.
1. The movement was natural and spontaneous. No signs of getting it up. The enthusiasm it expressed already existed. Direction and order were imparted, but the motive was self-developed.
2. It was of a predominantly spiritual character. The attraction did not lie in the accessories, but in the central Figure. Never had the native glory of the Messiah been so manifest. The Jews, had they only known, were on the verge of an apocalypse, which only depended upon their spiritual preparedness. "Meekness is nobler and mightier than force, goodness than grandeur" (Godwin).
3. It was a manifest fulfillment of prophecy. The people were conscious of it as they shouted. Their words are a quotation from Psalm 118. "(1) 'Hosanna!' The word was a Hebrew imperative, 'Save us, we beseech thee,' and had come into liturgical use from Psalm 118. That psalm belonged specially to the Feast of Tabernacles, and as such was naturally associated with the palm branches; the verses from it now chanted by the people are said to have been those with which the inhabitants of Jerusalem were wont to welcome the pilgrims who came up to keep the feast. The addition of 'Hosanna to the Son of David' made it a direct recognition of the claims of Jesus to be the Christ; that of 'Hosanna in the highest' (comp. Luke 2:14) claimed heaven as in accord with earth in this recognition.
(2) 'Blessed be ['the King,' in St. Luke] he that cometh in the Name of the Lord.' These words, too, received a special, personal application. The welcome was now given, not to the crowd of pilgrims, but to the King.
(3) As in St. Luke, one of the cries was an echo of the angels' hymn at the Nativity, 'Peace on earth, and glory in the highest' (Luke 2:14).
(4) As in St. Mark, 'Blessed be the kingdom of our father David.' We have to think of these shouts as filling the air as he rides slowly on in silence. He will not check them at the bidding of the Pharisees (Luke 19:39), but his own spirit is filled with quite other thoughts than theirs" (Plumptre). Yet, because of the unpreparedness of the people, the fulfillment was only provisional, not ultimate; typical, not actual. In its spiritual idea, its universal influence ("all the city was moved"), its spontaneous acclaim, it spoke of that which is to come; in its outwardness, its question, "Who is this?" and answer, "This is Jesus, the Prophet of Nazareth of Galilee," its readiness to pass from praise to execration, it showed how distant the people were from the true realization.
III. CULMINATING SOVEREIGNITY.
1. Seen in the destination to which he came. "He entered the temple. He is Priest as well as King. Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion" (Psalm 2:6). It is from the holy place that his rule extends; and there it begins, and is most intensely and specially exercised. He is Key to all the mysteries there; Centre of all the symbols and rites. This suggests that his reign is primarily and essentially a spiritual one. As King of saints he reigns in the earth.
2. Expressed and exercised in a "look." "He looked round about upon all things. Not simply as one might gaze who had never been there before: an arbitrary and wanton idea; but as one who had a right to inspect the condition of the place, and who was determined to assert and exercise that fight" (Morison). So is he Lord of that temple not made with hands - the body in which he dwelt, and the spirit in which he offered the eternal sacrifice; and so will he take account of the secrets of human nature in the great day, for is he not "the Son of man"? - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples,