And when they came near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sends forth two of his disciples,…
On the occasion described in these verses Jesus assumed kingly authority. Loved as a Friend, revered as a Teacher, and followed as a Worker of miracles, he now declared his kingliness, and demanded obedience and homage. Therein he taught us, his subjects, some lessons.
I. AS A KING, JESUS REQUIRES ABSOLUTE OBEDIENCE. To the two disciples this command must have appeared strange. After finding the animal denoted, they were not to ask for it, but to take it; and if their action was questioned they were merely to say, "The Lord hath need of him." If it belonged to a foe, some might arrest or assail them for robbery. It was not the first occasion, however, on which they simply obeyed. Christ had a right to their absolute obedience, and their faith was tested by this demand upon it. Unquestioning obedience to truth and to duty is far too rare. We want to see the reasons for a command, the probable issues of it, and when we see neither too often we withhold obedience. Peril from this is now more frequent, because authority as such is weakened on all sides. Children in the home, which is the true sphere for the cultivation of obedience, are too often allowed to question when they ought to be told to obey. If we are sure of duty as followers of Jesus Christ, we must be regardless of consequences. He anticipates our difficulties, as he foresaw the question of the owner of the colt. He asks us to take one step, and to take it boldly, although we do not see what the next will be, nor whither it may lead us. If we go on to the Red Sea, it will afford us a path of safety and cut off our foes from following us. If an angel rouses us from sleep, and we arise and follow him, the great iron gate we cannot stir will open to us of its own accord.
II. AS A KING, JESUS CLAIMS THE USE OF ALL THAT HE REQUIRES, We forget that we are not the absolute owners of anything. All we have is held in trust; but our seeming possession tests our disposition, and helps to develop character. If we wish to prove the honesty of a servant, and let his skill in management grow, we do not give him a small sum each day, and check and watch him till the evening, and then expect a strict account. No; we put a large sum at his disposal, and "after a long time ' reckon with him, with the result, that if he has been faithful he has increased his capital and his fitness. So God puts at our disposal wealth, talents, etc., in the hope that for our own sake we will use all loyally for him. Christ Jesus, during his ministry, was as one "having nothing, and yet possessing all things." No colt was his, but one was there, and when its owner heard "The Lord hath need of him," it was ready for the Lord's use. The message sent to that man, when it comes home to our hearts, should silence all objections to the making of effort or sacrifice. If we have to give up some luxury so as to help the poor, if we have to sacrifice leisure that is hardly earned to teach the ignorant, if we have to part with one who is dear to us, our anger and defiance will be quieted when we say to ourselves, "The Lord hath need of them." The owner was perhaps a secret disciple. The Lord knew him, although the apostles did not. Now, after loving Jesus quietly, the opportunity for showing his love was suddenly proffered, and he gladly gave what he could. Christ asks of us, as he asked of him, what is possible and reasonable; and instead of waiting to do something great, let us do what we can, and that which is mean in itself will be hallowed and glorified when used by our Lord.
III. AS A KING, JESUS EXERCISES A SPIRITUAL RULE. Until now his kingliness had been concealed except from the nearest and dearest disciples. On this occasion it was declared. Yet the spiritual nature of that kingliness was so evident in his dress, in the animal he bestrode, and in his attendants, that when a few days afterwards he was charged with calling himself a King, no reference was made to this incident before Herod or Pilate. Such is the nature of his kingdom still. His sovereignty is not advanced by material force or by worldly cunning. To him, as a spiritual Ruler, gifts do not take the place of earnest prayer; nor is attendance on the means of grace a substitute for fellowship of soul with God. His kingdom was inaugurated by death; it was founded on a grave; it was built up by the Spirit, "that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." Hence he approached Jerusalem, not on the war-horse of the conqueror, but on an ass, on which rode messengers of peace; as if he were determined that he would not come in judgment till to the last love had been tried. Thus he comes to us, in quiet suggestions, in holy desires, in tears, and prayers; but hereafter he will come in power and great glory, fulfilling the vision St. John saw of One upon the white horse, going forth conquering, and to conquer. - A.R.
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,