From Matthew Henry's Commentary.
We are now come to the Passion-Week, the week in which Christ died, and the great occurrences of that week. I. Christ's riding in triumph into Jerusalem, ver. 1-11. II. His cursing the barren fig-tree, ver. 12-14. III. His driving those out of the temple that turned it into an exchange, ver. 15-19. IV. His discourse with his disciples concerning the power of faith and the efficacy of prayer, on occasion of the withering of the fig-tree he cursed, ver. 20-26. V. His reply to those who questioned his authority, ver. 27-33.
Christ's Entrance into Jerusalem.
1 And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples, 2 And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. 3 And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither. 4 And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him. 5 And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? 6 And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him. 8 And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: 10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest. 11 And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.
We have here the story of the public entry Christ made into Jerusalem, four or five days before his death. And he came into town thus remarkably, 1. To show that he was not afraid of the power and malice of his enemies in Jerusalem. He did not steal into the city incognito, as one that durst not show his face; no, they needed not send spies to search for him, he comes in with observation. This would be an encouragement to his disciples that were timorous, and cowed at the thought of their enemies' power and rage; let them see how bravely their Master sets them all at defiance. 2. To show that he was not cast down or disquieted at the thoughts of his approaching sufferings. He came, not only publicly, but cheerfully, and with acclamations of joy. Though he was now but taking the field, and girding on the harness, yet, being fully assured of a complete victory, he thus triumphs as though he had put it off.
I. The outside of this triumph was very mean; he rode upon an ass's colt, which being an ass, looked contemptible, and made no figure; and, being but a colt, whereon never man sat, we may suppose, was rough and untrimmed, and not only so, but rude and ungovernable, and would disturb and disgrace the solemnity. This colt was borrowed too. Christ went upon the water in a borrowed boat, ate the passover in a borrowed chamber, was buried in a borrowed sepulchre, and here rode on a borrowed ass. Let not Christians scorn to be beholden one to another, and, when need is, to go a borrowing, for our Master did not. He had no rich trappings; they threw their clothes upon the colt, and so he sat upon him, v. 7. The persons that attended, were mean people; and all the show they could make, was, by spreading their garments in the way (v. 8), as they used to do at the feast of tabernacles. All these were marks of his humiliation; even when he would be taken notice of, he would be taken notice of for his meanness; and they are instructions to us, not to mind high things, but to condescend to them of low estate. How ill doth it become Christians to take state, when Christ was so far from affecting it!
II. The inside of this triumph was very great; not only as it was the fulfilling of the scripture (which is not taken notice of here, as it as in Matthew), but as there were several rays of Christ's glory shining forth in the midst of all this meanness. 1. Christ showed his knowledge of things distant, and his power over the wills of men, when he sent his disciples for the colt, v. 1-3. By this it appears that he can do every thing, and no thought can be withholden from him. 2. He showed his dominion over the creatures in riding on a colt that was never backed. The subjection of the inferior part of the creation to man is spoken of with application to Christ (Ps. viii. 5, 6, compared with Heb. ii. 8); for to him it is owing, and to his mediation, that we have any remaining benefit by the grant God made to man, of a sovereignty in this lower world, Gen. i. 28. And perhaps Christ, in riding the ass's colt, would give a shadow of his power over the spirit of man, who is born as the wild ass's colt, Job xi. 12. 3. The colt was brought from a place where two ways met (v. 4), as if Christ would show that he came to direct those into the right way, who had two ways before them, and were in danger of taking the wrong. 4. Christ received the joyful hosannas of the people; that is, both the welcome they gave him and their good wishes to the prosperity of his kingdom, v. 9. It was God that put it into the hearts of these people to cry Hosanna, who were not by art and management brought to it, as those were who afterward cried, Crucify, crucify. Christ reckons himself honoured by the faith and praises of the multitude, and it is God that brings people to do him this honour beyond their own intentions.
(1.) They welcomed his person (v. 9); Blessed is he that cometh, the ho erchomenos, he that should come, so often promised, so long expected; he comes in the name of the Lord, as God's Ambassador to the world; Blessed be he: let him have our applauses, and best affections; he is a blessed Saviour, and brings blessings to us, and blessed be he that sent him. Let him be blessed in the name of the Lord, and let all nations and ages call him Blessed, and think and speak highly and honourably of him.
(2.) They wished well to his intent, v. 10. They believed that, mean a figure as he made, he had a kingdom, which should shortly be set up in the world, that it was the kingdom of their father David (that father of his country), the kingdom promised to him and his seed for ever; a kingdom that came in the name of the Lord, supported by a divine authority. Blessed be this kingdom; let it take place, let it get ground, let it come in the power of it, and let all opposing rule, principality, and power, be put down; let it go on conquering, and to conquer. Hosanna to this kingdom; prosperity be to it; all happiness attend it. The proper signification of hosanna is that which we find, Rev. vii. 10. Salvation to our God, that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb; success to religion, both natural and revealed, Hosanna in the highest. Praises be to our God, who is in the highest heavens over all, God blessed for ever; or, Let him be praised by his angels, that are in the highest heavens, let our hosannas be an echo to theirs.
Christ, thus attended, thus applauded, came into the city, and went directly to the temple. Here was no banquet of wine prepared for his entertainment, nor the least refreshment; but he immediately applied himself to his work, for that was his meat and drink. He went to the temple, that the scripture might be fulfilled; "The Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, without sending any immediate notice before him; he shall surprise you with a day of visitation, for he shall be like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap," Mal. iii. 1-3. He came to the temple, and took a view of the present state of it, v. 11. He looked round about upon all things, but as yet said nothing. He saw many disorders there, but kept silence, Ps. l. 21. Though he intended to suppress them, he would not go about the doing of it all on a sudden, lest he should seem to have done it rashly; he let things be as they were for this night, intending the next morning to apply himself to the necessary reformation, and to take the day before him. We may be confident that God sees all the wickedness that is in the world, though he do not presently reckon for it, nor cast it out. Christ, having make his remarks upon what he saw in the temple, retired in the evening to a friend's house at Bethany, because there he would be more out of the noise of the town, and out of the way of being suspected, a designing to head a faction.
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