And when they drew near to Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, to the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,…
In his journey to Jerusalem Jesus rested at Bethany, where, stopping at the house of Simon the leper, Mary anointed his feet (cf. Matthew 26:6; John 12:2). His progress on the day following is here recorded. Observe -
I. THAT JESUS ENTERED THE CAPITAL IN THE ROYALTY OF MEEKNESS.
1. He came in sacred character.
(1) Animals which had never borne the yoke were employed for sacred purposes (see Deuteronomy 21:3). The colt upon which Jesus rode was such (see Mark 11:2). Specially acceptable to Christ is the consecration of virgin youth.
(2) His sacred character was recognized in the acclamations of the multitude. "Hosanna!" was a form of acclamation used at the Feast of Tabernacles, when the people carried boughs (see Nehemiah 8:15). "Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord?" equivalent to "Hosanna, O Lord!" (see Psalm 20:9). "Hosanna in the highest! i.e. in the heavens, which is an invitation to holy angels to join with the sons of men in praising the Messianic King (cf. Psalm 148:1, 2; Luke 2:14; Luke 19:38).
(3) That a colt never before ridden should have borne Jesus amidst the shoutings of the multitude was a miracle (cf. 1 Samuel 6:7). That miracle set forth the power by which Christ can subject to his will the unruly heart of man (see Job 11:12).
(4) While Jesus entered Jerusalem as a King, he showed that his kingdom was not of the world. So Pilate acquitted him of treason against Caesar.
2. He came as the Prince of Peace.
(1) He rode not upon the warlike horse. To have done so would have been unbecoming him as King of Israel (cf. Deuteronomy 17:16; Psalm 20:7). Has his royalty peacefully entered in triumph into your soul? Has he received a welcome - a hosanna, in your heart?
(2) As the Judge of Israel" he rode upon the colt of an ass (cf. Judges 5:10; Judges 10:4; Judges 12:13, 14). The kingdom of heaven is not force, but righteousness.
(3) His coming was therefore the triumph of pure joy. This the multitude expressed by acclamation and by spreading their garments and palm branches (cf. 2 Kings 9:13; Psalm 118:25; John 13:13; Revelation 7:9).
(4) The hosannas of earth are the prelude to the hallelujahs of heaven.
3. He came in humble state.
(1) He condescended to have "need" of the ass's colt. If he is pleased to have need of our poor services, this is reason sufficient for any sacrifice. To render service needed by the Lord is at once the highest honour and the greatest blessing.
(2) He condescended to accept his praises from the lips of "babes." Not from the heads and rulers of the nation, but from his poor disciples. Their greatness is childlikeness (cf. Matthew 18:1-4).
(3) He condescended to come in meekness to those who plotted his destruction. Lo! the King comes to be murdered by his creatures, and in his death to redeem them from wrath!
(4) What triumphs are here! He triumphs over pride in his humility, over affluence in his poverty, over rage and malice in his meekness. "Was it a mean attitude wherein our Lord appeared? Mean to contempt? I grant it. I glory in it. It is for the comfort of my soul, for the honour of his humility, and for the utter confusion of all worldly pomp and grandeur" (Wesley).
II. THAT JESUS ENTERED THE CAPITAL FOR THE TRIUMPH OF DESTINY.
1. He came for the fulfilment of prophecy.
(1) This last journey of our Lord from Jericho to Jerusalem was in the same line as the triumphant march of the children of Israel from the time of their first entry into the holy land to the taking of Jerusalem. The spiritual progress is from the lowest to the highest, from the place accursed to the place of the Name of our Lord.
(2) He came as the very Paschal Lamb. It was now the tenth day of the month, when the Law appointed that the Paschal lamb should be taken up (see Exodus 12:2; 1 Corinthians 5:7).
(3) He rode in triumph to his death. The priest according to the order of Melchizedek suffers as a Priest and triumphs as a King. His victory is moral, viz. over sin, death, and hell. He is the King in his death, according to the inscription on his cross (see Matthew 27:37). How appropriate upon this occasion, then, was the "Hosanna" - "Save now"!
(4) The history of this remarkable progress was pre-written (see Isaiah 62:11; Zechariah 9:9). Known unto God are all his ways from the beginning.
2. His coming was itself a prophecy.
(1) It suggested, by what Elliot calls "allusive contrast," the ascension of Jesus into the heavenly Jerusalem. Some of the multitude "went before him," viz. those who met him from the city, as the angels met Jesus in his ascension. Some "followed after," viz. those who came with him from Bethany, as the risen saints ascended with their risen Lord (cf. Psalm 24.; Matthew 27:52, 53). Those who would follow Christ in his ascension must follow him now in his lowly state.
(2) It suggested also the second, glorious, advent of Messiah to this earth. Then coming forth to vengeance, he is described as riding upon a horse (see Revelation 19:11). Coming forth in glory, without a sin sacrifice, he will descend upon a throne of white light. He will come with the sound of the great trumpet, which shall wake the very dead. Instead of the retinue of poor Galilaeans, he will come with a myriad retinue of mighty angels. Then will be understood the "Hosanna in the highest!
(3) The Lord's day is the Christian type of the everlasting sabbath. As the day of the triumphal entry of Christ into the earthly Jerusalem was the tenth of the month, so was it also the first day of the week. It was the first of that series of events which took place on the first day of the week, entitling that day to be called the day of the Lord." Is there no prophetic reference to this in the words of the psalm which was evidently in the minds of the disciples: "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, I beseech thee [הושיעח נא, hoshiahnna, from which the disciples had their hosanna]," etc. (see Psalm 118:24-26)? - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,