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Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

28 After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

29 When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ” 32So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34They said, “The Lord needs it.” 35Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 37As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38saying,

“Blessed is the king

who comes in the name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven,

and glory in the highest heaven!”

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

41 As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. 44They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”

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Christ's Entry into Jerusalem.

28 And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem.   29 And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples,   30 Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither.   31 And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.   32 And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them.   33 And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt?   34 And they said, The Lord hath need of him.   35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.   36 And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.   37 And when he was come nigh, even now 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 that they had seen;   38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.   39 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.   40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

We have here the same account of Christ's riding in some sort of triumph (such as it was) into Jerusalem which we had before in Matthew and Mark; let us therefore here only observe,

I. Jesus Christ was forward and willing to suffer and die for us. He went forward, bound in the spirit, to Jerusalem, knowing very well the things that should befal him there, and yet he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem, v. 28. He was the foremost of the company, as if he longed to be upon the spot, longed to engage, to take the field, and to enter upon action. Was he so forward to suffer and die for us, and shall we draw back from any service we are capable of doing for him?

II. It was no ways inconsistent either with Christ's humility or with his present state of humiliation to make a public entry into Jerusalem a little before he died. Thus he made himself to be the more taken notice of, that the ignominy of his death might appear the greater.

III. Christ is entitled to a dominion over all the creatures, and may use them when and as he pleases. No man has a property in his estate against Christ, but that his title is prior and superior. Christ sent to fetch an ass and her colt from their owner's and master's crib, when he had occasion for their service, and might do so, for all the beasts of the forest are his, and the tame beasts too.

IV. Christ has all men's hearts both under his eye and in his hand. He could influence those to whom the ass and the colt belonged to consent to their taking them away, as soon as they were told that the Lord had occasion for them.

V. Those that go on Christ's errands are sure to speed (v. 32): They that were sent found what he told them they should find, and the owners willing to part with them. It is a comfort to Christ's messengers that they shall bring what they are sent for, if indeed the Lord has occasion for it.

VI. The disciples of Christ, who fetch that for him from others which he has occasion for, and which they have not, should not think that enough, but, whatever they have themselves wherewith he may be served and honoured, they should be ready to serve him with it. Many can be willing to attend Christ at other people's expense who care not to be at any charge upon him themselves; but those disciples not only fetched the ass's colt for him, but cast their own garments upon the colt, and were willing that they should be used for his trappings.

VII. Christ's triumphs are the matter of his disciples' praises. When Christ came nigh to Jerusalem, God put it of a sudden into the hearts of the whole multitude of the disciples, not of the twelve only, but abundance more, that were disciples at large, to rejoice and praise God (v. 37), and the spreading of their clothes in the way (v. 36) was a common expression of joy, as at the feast of tabernacles. Observe, 1. What was the matter or occasion of their joy and praise. They praised God for all the mighty works they had seen, all the miracles Christ had wrought, especially the raising of Lazarus, which is particularly mentioned, John xii. 17, 18. That brought others to mind, for fresh miracles and mercies should revive the remembrance of the former. 2. How they expressed their joy and praise (v. 38): Blessed be the king that cometh in the name of the Lord. Christ is the king; he comes in the name of the Lord, clothed with a divine authority, commissioned from heaven to give law and treat of peace. Blessed be he. Let us praise him, let God prosper him. He is blessed for ever, and we will speak well of him. Peace in heaven. Let the God of heaven send peace and success to his undertaking, and then there will be glory in the highest. It will redound to the glory of the most high God; and the angels, the glorious inhabitants of the upper world, will give him the glory of it. Compare this song of the saints on earth with that of the angels, ch. ii. 14. They both agree to give glory to God in the highest. There the praises of both centre; the angels say, On earth peace, rejoicing in the benefit which men on earth have by Christ; the saints say, Peace in heaven, rejoicing in the benefit which the angels have by Christ. Such is the communion we have with the holy angels that, as they rejoice in the peace on earth, so we rejoice in the peace in heaven, the peace God makes in his high places (Job xxv. 2), and both in Christ, who hath reconciled all things to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

VIII. Christ's triumph's, and his disciples' joyful praises of them, are the vexation of proud Pharisees, that are enemies to him and his kingdom. There were some Pharisees among the multitude who were so far from joining with them that they were enraged at them, and, Christ being a famous example of humility, they thought that he would not admit such acclamations as these, and therefore expected that he should rebuke his disciples, v. 39. But it is the honour of Christ that, as he despises the contempt of the proud, so he accepts the praises of the humble.

IX. Whether men praise Christ or no he will, and shall, and must be praised (v. 40): If these should hold their peace, and not speak the praises of the Messiah's kingdom, the stones would immediately cry out, rather than that Christ should not be praised. This was, in effect, literally fulfilled, when, upon men's reviling Christ upon the cross, instead of praising him, and his own disciples' sinking into a profound silence, the earth did quake and the rocks rent. Pharisees would silence the praises of Christ, but they cannot gain their point; for as God can out of stones raise up children unto Abraham, so he can out of the mouths of those children perfect praise.

The Doom of Jerusalem Lamented; The Doom of Jerusalem Foretold.

41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,   42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.   43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,   44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.   45 And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought;   46 Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.   47 And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him,   48 And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.

The great Ambassador from heaven is here making his public entry into Jerusalem, not to be respected there, but to be rejected; he knew what a nest of vipers he was throwing himself into, and yet see here two instances of his love to that place and his concern for it.

I. The tears he shed for the approaching ruin of the city (v. 41): When he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it. Probably, it was when he was coming down the descent of the hill from the mount of Olives, where he had a full view of the city, the large extent of it, and the many stately structures in it, and his eye affected his heart, and his heart his eye again. See here,

1. What a tender spirit Christ was of; we never read that he laughed, but we often find him in tears. In this very place his father David wept, and those that were with him, though he and they were men of war. There are cases in which it is no disparagement to the stoutest of men to melt into tears.

2. That Jesus Christ wept in the midst of his triumphs, wept when all about him were rejoicing, to show how little he was elevated with the applause and acclamation of the people. Thus he would teach us to rejoice with trembling, and as though we rejoiced not. If Providence do not stain the beauty of our triumphs, we may ourselves see cause to sully it with our sorrows.

3. That he wept over Jerusalem. Note, There are cities to be wept over, and none to be more lamented than Jerusalem, that had been the holy city, and the joy of the whole earth, if it be degenerated. But why did Christ weep at the sight of Jerusalem? Was it because "Yonder is the city in which I must be betrayed and bound, scourged and spit upon, condemned and crucified?" No, he himself gives us the reason of his tears.

(1.) Jerusalem has not improved the day of her opportunities. He wept, and said, If thou hadst known, even thou at least in this thy day, if thou wouldst but yet know, while the gospel is preached to thee, and salvation offered thee by it; if thou wouldest at length bethink thyself, and understand the things that belong to thy peace, the making of thy peace with God, and the securing of thine own spiritual and eternal welfare—but thou dost not know the day of thy visitation, v. 44. The manner of speaking is abrupt: If thou hadst known! O that thou hadst, so some take it; like that O that my people had hearkened unto me, Ps. lxxxi. 13; Isa. xlviii. 18. Or, If thou hadst known, well; like that of the fig-tree, ch. xiii. 9. How happy had it been for thee! Or, "If thou hadst known, thou wouldest have wept for thyself, and I should have no occasion to weep for thee, but should have rejoiced rather." What he says lays all the blame of Jerusalem's impending ruin upon herself. Note, [1.] There are things which belong to our peace, which we are all concerned to know and understand; the way how peace is made, the offers made of peace, the terms on which we may have the benefit of peace. The things that belong to our peace are those things that relate to our present and future welfare; these we must know with application. [2.] There is a time of visitation when those things which belong to our peace may be known by us, and known to good purpose. When we enjoy the means of grace in great plenty, and have the word of God powerfully preached to us—when the Spirit strives with us, and our own consciences are startled and awakened—then is the time of visitation, which we are concerned to improve. [3.] With those that have long neglected the time of their visitation, if at length, if at last, in this their day, their eyes be opened, and they bethink themselves, all will be well yet. Those shall not be refused that come into the vineyard at the eleventh hour. [4.] It is the amazing folly of multitudes that enjoy the means of grace, and it will be of fatal consequence to them, that they do not improve the day of their opportunities. The things of their peace are revealed to them, but are not minded or regarded by them; they hide their eyes from them, as if they were not worth taking notice of. They are not aware of the accepted time and the day of salvation, and to let it slip and perish through mere carelessness. None are so blind as those that will not see; nor have any the things of their peace more certainly hidden from their eyes than those that turn their back upon them. [5.] The sin and folly of those that persist in a contempt of gospel grace are a great grief to the Lord Jesus, and should be so to us. He looks with weeping eyes upon lost souls, that continue impenitent, and run headlong upon their own ruin; he had rather that they would turn and live than go on and die, for he is not willing that any should perish.

(2.) Jerusalem cannot escape the day of her desolation. The things of her peace are now in a manner hidden from her eyes; they will be shortly. Not but that after this the gospel was preached to them by the apostles; all the house of Israel were called to know assuredly that Christ was their peace (Acts ii. 36), and multitudes were convinced and converted. But as to the body of the nation, and the leading part of it, they were sealed up under unbelief; God had given them the spirit of slumber, Rom. xi. 8. They were so prejudiced and enraged against the gospel, and those few that did embrace it then, that nothing less than a miracle of divine grace (like that which converted Paul) would work upon them; and it could not be expected that such a miracle should be wrought, and so they were justly given up to judicial blindness and hardness. The peaceful things are not hidden from the eyes of particular persons; but it is too late to think now of the nation of the Jews, as such, becoming a Christian nation, by embracing Christ. And therefore they are marked for ruin, which Christ here foresees and foretels, as the certain consequence of their rejecting Christ. Note, Neglecting the great salvation of ten brings temporal judgments upon a people; it did so upon Jerusalem in less than forty years after this, when all that Christ here foretold was exactly fulfilled. [1.] The Romans besieged the city, cast a trench about it, compassed it round, and kept their inhabitants in on every side. Josephus relates that Titus ran up a wall in a very short time, which surrounded the city, and cut off all hopes of escaping. [2.] They laid it even with the ground. Titus commanded his soldiers to dig up the city, and the whole compass of it was levelled, except three towers; see Josephus's history of the wars of the Jews, 5. 356-360; 7. 1. Not only the city, but the citizens were laid even with the ground (thy children within thee), by the cruel slaughters that were made of them: and there was scarcely one stone left upon another. This was for their crucifying Christ; this was because they knew not the day of their visitation. Let other cities and nations take warning.

II. The zeal he showed for the present purification of the temple. Though it must be destroyed ere long, it does not therefore follow that no care must be taken of it in the mean time.

1. Christ cleared it of those who profaned it. He went straight to the temple, and began to cast out the buyers and sellers, v. 45. Hereby (though he was represented as an enemy to the temple, and that was the crime laid to his charge before the high priest) he made it to appear that he had a truer love for the temple than they had who had such a veneration for its corban, its treasury, as a sacred thing; for its purity was more its glory than its wealth was. Christ gave reason for his dislodging the temple-merchants, v. 46. The temple is a house of prayer, set apart for communion with God: the buyers and sellers made it a den of thieves by the fraudulent bargains they made there, which was by no means to be suffered, for it would be a distraction to those who came there to pray.

2. He put it to the best use that ever it was put to, for he taught daily in the temple, v. 47. Note, It is not enough that the corruptions of a church be purged out, but the preaching of the gospel must be encouraged. Now, when Christ preached in the temple, observe here, (1.) How spiteful the church-rulers were against him; how industrious to seek an opportunity, or pretence rather, to do him a mischief (v. 47): The chief priests and scribes, and the chief of the people, the great sanhedrim, that should have attended him, and summoned the people too to attend him, sought to destroy him, and put him to death. (2.) How respectful the common people were to him. They were very attentive to hear him. He spent most of his time in the country, and did not then preach in the temple, but, when he did, the people paid him great respect, attended on his preaching with diligence, and let no opportunity slip of hearing him, attended to it with care, and would not lose a word. Some read it, All the people as they heard him, took his part; and so it comes in very properly as a reason why his enemies could not find what they might do against him; they saw the people ready to fly in their faces if they offered him any violence. Till his hour was come his interest in the common people protected him; but, when his hour was come, the chief priests' influence upon the common people delivered him up.