MATT. 21:1-17.JAN. 13.
AFTER THE FEAST of our last lesson, the next morning, the first day of the week (our Sunday), our Lord early began his preparations for his triumphal entry into Jerusalem as a King. Altho he well knew that "his own" people would not receive him, but, as he had already testified to his disciples, that he would be put to death by the rulers, and intimated the night before that Mary's anointing was for his burial, it was nevertheless necessary as a part of the divine plan that he should formally offer himself as King to the Jews, and thus fulfil to that people God's promise that his favor should be "to the Jew first."
Our Lord had previously resisted the disposition of some of the people to take him by force and make him King, withdrawing from their midst, etc. (John 6:15); but now the time, the due time, having come, and that to the very hour, he deliberately planned his triumphal procession, instead of, as previously, hindering it. He sent some of the disciples for the ass and colt, manifesting his superhuman power by designating where and how the animals would be found. An ass was used rather than a horse, and tradition tells us that so all the kings of Israel were accustomed to ride to their coronation.
When the animal arrived the disciples and the whole multitude seemed to enter into the spirit of the arrangement; for it would appear that quite a number of those who came up from Jericho, and who had witnessed our Lord's power and teachings en route to the Holy City and the Passover, lodged at Bethany over the Sabbath, as he did. These, with the disciples, constituted quite a little band, who began to hail Jesus as the King, and to do him homage, as was customary with notables at that time, by spreading their outer garments in the way for his beast to tread upon; and by plucking grass and flowers, and branches of palm trees, and strewing these also in the way.
Jesus, in the honored position, riding at the head, was followed by this multitude on the road toward Jerusalem. Then another multitude from the city, having heard that the great Prophet and Teacher was at Bethany, came forth to see both him and Lazarus, and these, meeting the Lord and the shouting company behind him, turned about and became a vanguard, shouting like the rest, "Hosanna to the Son of David," which meant the King, one of the royal line. They probably were deterred from using the word "king" lest they should bring upon themselves charges of treason against King Herod, and against the Roman empire, which sustained him in power.
It was a grand or a ludicrous triumphal entry into the city of the Great King, according to the standpoint from which it was viewed. From the standpoint of the disciples and the multitude, full of Messianic enthusiasm and hopes that the longed-for blessings upon Israel were about to be realized, and full of faith that this great Prophet, who had the power to raise the dead and heal the sick, could in his own time and way make himself and them invincible against all enemies, and amply fulfil all the glorious things foretold by the prophets,for these it was a grand occasion, a real triumph. For, notwithstanding the fact that Jesus had previously told them repeatedly of his death, and had even reproved Peter for speaking to the contrary, nevertheless his disciples and others seem to have been unable to receive his words in their true meaning, and to have interpreted them as merely a part of his "dark sayings" which would undoubtedly later become luminous in some grand significance. This is attested by their language, even after his death and resurrection,"We trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel."Luke 24:21.
From the standpoint of Herod, Pilate, the chief priests and scribes, this triumphal procession was merely [R2745 : page 381] the parade of a fanatical leader and his ignorant and fanatical dupes. They saw in it evidently no more than this. King Herod and Pilate evidently had no fear that this despised Nazarene and his company would ever be able to organize and equip an army which would be of any force as against the order of things of which they were the heads. The religious leaders feared merely that the fanaticism might spread in some manner, and bring down upon them the wrath and further oppression of the secular powers, who might make them an excuse for further interference with the liberties of the Jews. Quite evidently none of these chief rulers believed in Jesus as the Messiah sent of God for the fulfilment of the gracious promises of their Scriptures. To this the apostles testify, saying, "I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers;" "If they had known they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."Acts 3:17; 1 Cor. 2:8.
That procession was viewed from still another standpoint by our Lord himself and by the invisible multitude of angels, ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation. These joined in the enthusiasm of the multitude, but from a totally different standpointrealizing this triumph as merely a part of the divine plan, and merely a prelude to a greater triumph on our Lord's part through the completion of the sacrifice of himself and the attainment thus of "all power in heaven and in earth;" and as a foreshadowing, too, of his coming glory and [R2746 : page 381] his triumphal entry upon the Kingdom on his return from the far country (heaven) armed with a plenitude of power and authority, to put down sin and to bring all things into subjection to God; and to lift up out of the horrible pit of sin and disease and death all desirous of coming back into full harmony with the Father and the laws of his empire. This, the most glorious standpoint of view of that triumphal march, it is our privilege, by the grace of God, to enjoy; and we may well say in our Lord's words, "Blessed are our eyes, for they see; and our ears, for they hear."
Luke's account of this matter informs us that certain of the Pharisees who were with the multitude at the beginning, altho they could not object to anything which our Lord said or did, complained that he should permit his disciples and others of the multitude to hail him as a King, shouting Hosanna! (Salvation, Blessing, Praise!) Then it was that Jesus, knowing of the prophecy bearing upon this subject (Zech. 9:9), not only refused to rebuke the disciples and hinder their acclaims, but informed the Pharisees that since God himself, through the Prophet, had said, "Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem," therefore there must be some shoutings; and that if the people had not arisen to that amount of enthusiasm to give such shoutings the very stones would have cried out, so that the prophecy should not be unfulfilled.
Tho the distance is quite short to Jerusalem from Bethphage, where the Lord mounted the ass, nevertheless the city was hidden from view by the Mount of Olives, and it was when the Lord had reached the top of Olivet, and the city of Jerusalem came suddenly into view, that he halted the procession and wept over the city; 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...because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation." (Luke 19:41-44.) From this language it is evident that our Lord did not consider the multitudes who were with him, as in any sense of the word, representing the city and nation; for altho these who were with him were shouting the very words, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of Jehovah!" our Lord's language indicates that a time is yet to come when the heads of Israel, the chief ones representing the people, shall gladly acknowledge him as King of kings and Lord of lords, at his second advent; but in the meantime their failure to recognize the time of their visitation meant to them a great loss of privilege; meant to them that their house must be left desolate, abandoned of the Lord during this Gospel age, during which he would gather from amongst the Gentiles a sufficient number to complete the elect number, in conjunction with the faithful ones of Israel, the remnant who had or would receive him.See Matt. 23:39.
The objective point of this triumphal march was the Holy City, the capital city, the City of the Great King. But our Lord did not go to Herod's palace, to demand possession of it; nor to Pilate's palace, to demand recognition of him; but as the representative of Jehovah, as the Messiah, sent of God to be the Savior of Israel and the world, he went appropriately to the Father's house or palace,to the Temple.
The scene in the Temple must have been a peculiar one. It was undoubtedly crowded with pilgrims from all parts of the civilized world, who at this season of the year came, to the number of hundreds of thousands, to worship the Lord and to observe the Passover, according to the Law. Probably many of them had heard something about Jesus of Nazareth, "mighty in word and deed." Many of them had been healed by him, or had friends who were thus blessed; and we can well imagine the commotion created by the multitudes coming with Jesus and crying, "Hosanna in the highest," etc. The Pharisees, scribes, and chief priests, who were used to dominate the people in religious matters, and especially in the Temple, altho filled with anger against Jesus, recognized themselves powerless to do him injury under the circumstances, for he was doing nothing contrary in any sense of the word to the Law, and this would be manifest to all. On the contrary, as tho to show that he was only doing what was in his power, our Lord began to exercise it as would be befitting a spiritual Kingby reproving those who were violating the holy Temple and its precincts, driving out of it those who sold doves for offerings, and the money-changers who were reaping a profitable harvest from the necessities of the worshipers from a distance, whose money, not being Jewish, could not be accepted at the Temple, and which they must therefore have exchanged, at a lossthe profit of the moneychangers. We are not to understand that our Lord was interfering with the proper laws of the land nor of the Temple;he was in every sense law-abiding. On the contrary, he was thoroughly authorized, as was any Jew, under the directions of the Law, to use so much force as was necessary in the maintenance of the sanctity of the Temple.
Blind and lame people came to our Lord in the Temple and were relieved of their infirmities, and then he taught the peoplecontinuing the healing and the [R2746 : page 382] teaching for several days, returning at nights to Bethany and coming the next morning to the Temple, but without any further demonstration, as a King, for that one demonstration had served the purpose intended. It had given to the officials of the city and nation the opportunity to formally accept him as king, but their contrary spirit is shown by their coming to him while the children in the Temple courts were crying "Hosanna!" requesting that he should put a stop to the matter; but our Lord answered them, quoting from the Scriptures, that this was in harmony with the divine plan: "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise." The worldly-wise did not appreciate this, and were blinded by self-interest; but little children, and especially those who in simplicity of heart and meekness became like little children, should be the instruments the Lord would use in shouting his praises.
Many of our Lord's parables and special teachings were uttered during those days in the Temple, between his triumphal entry and presentation on the tenth day of the month Nisan and his crucifixion on the fourteenth, as the Passover Lamb. (See Exod. 12:3,6.) These parables, etc., are recorded in Matthew, chapters 23-25, in Mark, chapters 11-13, and in John, chapters 12-16. Among other things he declared that the favor of God was, there and then, taken from fleshly Israel, saying,
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee! How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate!"Matt. 23:37-39.
In considering the best lessons we at the present time can draw from these incidents, we suggest that their typical feature be not forgottenthat all shall remember that the events in the close of our Lord's ministry, and everything pertaining to the rejection and dissolution of the fleshly house of Israel, is typical and illustrative of the things which are to be expected to transpire in the present time, in the end of the Gospel age,in the rejection and dissolution of nominal Israel of today, "Babylon." As already shown in MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., page 235, the time which corresponded to the Lord's formal offering of himself to fleshly Israel and his rejection was the year 1878. There nominal spiritual Israel was rejected, as previously the first or fleshly house had been rejected; yet in both cases all Israelites indeed receive him and receive corresponding blessings at his hand.
It is since this date (1878) we understand that our Lord has been in his spiritual Temple, the true Church, teaching in an especial manner all those who have an ear to hear, opening the blinded eyes and helping those who are spiritually lame to walk in his ways. It is since that time that all who belong to the Temple class of true worshipers are permitted to hear and see wonderful things out of the divine Word; and it is during this time also that the Lord is casting out of his Temple all those who make merchandise of the truth and who are not true worshipersthe money-changers and dove-sellers, etc.; and it is during this time that out of the mouth of babes and sucklings the truth is being proclaimed so often to the offense of the scribes and Pharisees of today.
Shortly, the last members of the body of Christ, the feet, already being anointed for burial with the sweet odors of the truth, will complete their sacrifice shortly, the first resurrection will be complete and all the members of the body of Christ be glorified together with him;and then, the sufferings of Christ being ended, the glory will speedily follow. But meantime before the glory is revealed, there will come a great time of trouble, symbolically a time of fire (trouble) and smoke (confusion) upon the world, and especially upon rejected "Babylon," and all who do not escape from her before the great tribulation comes, even as similar fiery vengeance came upon Israel after the flesh, and all who had not escaped from her.Luke 3:16,17; Matt. 13:38-43.