The Lord Jesus is here described as riding into Jerusalem. He casteth the buyers and sellers out of the temple. We have also the account of the withered Fig-tree, and the parable of the husbandman.
"And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, (2) Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. (3) And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. (4) All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, (5) Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass."
It is worthy remark, that the four Evangelists all notice this triumphal entrance of Christ into Jerusalem, five days before his death as if to testify the prophecy concerning it. Isaiah 62:11; Zechariah 9:9. And it is worthy of still further remark, that none but Christ ever made such a public entry, and therefore the conclusion is undeniable. Behold! how distinguished from every other king, is Zion's king. No trumpets, no gorgeous apparel, no courtly attendants, but as the Lord himself was meek and lowly, every accommodation corresponded to the humble appearance! Such was, and is, Jesus!
"And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, (7) And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. (8) And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strowed them in the way. (9) And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest."
But what was wanted in outward pomp, was amply made up in inward joy. And what, but the over-ruling power of God the Spirit, could have stirred up such a multitude to shout their Hosannas! Think how Jesus was welcomed to their hearts! See the Poor Man's Concordance; under the word Hosanna.
"And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? (11) And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee."
What an astonishing effect was wrought on the city at this approach of Jesus, Though the Lord had been so long going in and out among them, yet so astonished were they at this entrance of our God and Savior, that all men marvelled. Reader! have you never seen (I have) somewhat of the same kind in the present day, among the carnal and Christless, musing in their hearts when at any time hearing of Jesus! See a striking instance, John 7:40 to the end. I pray the Reader to remark, with me, the unconscious evidence the multitude gave to the real person of Christ, the only true. Nazarite of God, If my Reader hath near him my little penny publication of the "Poor Man's Concordance, " I would beg him to turn to the article Nazarene, for an explanation of the important name of Christ, as the only true Nazarite. He will discover that the name is of an infinitely higher import than perhaps he at first might suppose.
"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, (13) And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. (14) And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them."
I pray the Reader to pause over this account of his adorable Lord, According to my view of things, perhaps there is not, among the miracles of Christ, hardly an higher proof of his Godhead. I wish the Reader to notice it, as it deserves. To behold Jesus in the humble dress of a poor Jew, whipping the drove of cattle, with all the buyers and sellers, out of the temple, and overthrowing before him the counters of money, and the seats of the dove-sellers, and with such art holy countenance of zeal as none dared to oppose; surely it carried, with it an invincible proof of his mighty power and authority! And I beg the Reader, upon this, and many similar occasions which have occurred, to observe how plainly he mingled with his human appearance, tokens of his divine. The blind and the lame coming to him for healing, afforded an additional testimony to his divine person arid character.
"And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children 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; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?"
What a blessed account is here, of the minds of those children being over-ruled by the divine power, thus to bear testimony to the person of Jesus. For to what other source can it be ascribed? It is probable that many of the parents of those children were among the money changers, and the buyers and sellers, profaning the temple. And whence should those children have learnt of Christ's person and character as the Son of David? How have they been taught to sing Hosannah? Reader! do not fail to observe how the Lord accomplisheth his prophecies, by means the most unlooked for, and unexpected. David, by the spirit of prophecy, a thousand years before, had described this very event, that by the mouths of babes and sucklings, the Lord would call forth praise, And here we see it fulfilled. Psalms 8:2.
"And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there. (18) Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. (19) And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever. And presently the fig tree withered away. (20) And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! (21) Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. (22) And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."
Our Lord's departure into Bethany to lodge for the night, and his return in the morning, gave occasion for the display of another miracle, respecting the barren fig tree. No doubt the design was to preach by it to the people. The leaves of a mere profession, without fruit in, and from Christ, will stand in no stead in the day of enquiry. Nothing short of an union with Christ's person, can bring up after it communion and interest in what belongs to Christ.
"And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? (24) And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things. (25) The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? (26) But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. (27) And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things. (28) But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard. (29) He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. (30) And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. (31) Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. (32) For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him. (33) Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: (34) And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. (35) And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. (36) Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. (37) But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. (38) But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. (39) And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. (40) When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? (41) They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. (42) Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? (43) Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. (44) And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. (45) And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. (46) But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet."
The whole of our Lord's discourse and reasoning is so plain, and self-evident, that I do not conceive it can be, in the smallest measure, necessary to enlarge upon it. I only detain the Reader, therefore, to remark upon the whole of what is here contained, that from our Lord's giving the preference to publicans and harlots, to that of self-righteous Scribes and Pharisees, we may safely conclude that nothing was more offensive to the Lord of life and glory, than a frame of mind which, of all others, is more immediately levelled against the leading doctrines of his gospel. Oh! for grace to be always aware of the leaven of the Scribes and Pharisees, which the Son of God himself declares to be hypocrisy. Luke 12:1.
Pause, my soul, over this view of thy Redeemer! Did the Prophet, ages before Christ was born, call upon Zion to rejoice greatly, and Jerusalem to shout aloud, because her king was coming to her, meek and lowly, and having salvation; and did the Son of God, in his character as King of Zion, actually make his entry in the very manner the Prophet described; and did all those effects follow in confirmation of the glorious truth? And wilt not thou, my soul, join the heavenly Hosannas, and sing aloud, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord Hosanna in the highest!
And is it one and the same person who is here described as hungry, and needing the common sustenance to support nature, yea looking to a fig-tree to supply a pressing occasion? Oh! precious Jesus! how sweetly accommodating is thy lovely example, to the wants and indeed behoove exercises of thy people? Yes! thou dear Lord, it, did thee to be made like unto thy brethren, that thou mightest be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God. And having suffered being tempted, thou, knowest how to succor them that are tempted.
Lord! give thy people grace to see, that, while unawakened, unregenerate sinners, like those husbandmen in the parable, though living in thy Church, and outwardly feasting upon the good things of thy vineyard, have no inward joy or communion with the Lord of his vineyard, there are those redeemed of the Lord whose right it is in Christ, and who will finally be brought home to the joy of their Lord; while those miserable men will ultimately be destroyed, and have their portion with hypocrites in outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Matthew 21". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany