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Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament Godbey's NT Commentary
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Luke 19". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ ges/ luke-19.html.
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Luke 19". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://studylight.org/
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CONVERSION OF ZACCHEUS
Luke 19:1-10 . “Having come in, He passed through Jericho. And, behold, a man by name called Zaccheus, and he was chief of the publicans, and he was rich.” The publican was the sheriff of the Roman Government in Judea. Hence, you see, Zaccheus was high sheriff, having under him a number of deputies. Perhaps he was in good financial circumstances before he received the office; but doubtless his riches accumulated largely if not exclusively from the emoluments of his office, as the publicans were notorious and odious for rascality and oppression. The people hated them, not only for the above reasons, but because they loathed and despised the yoke of Roman despotism, which had been on their necks thirty-three years; i.e., a whole generation. Such was the popular odium of the office that it was frequently difficult to prevail on a Jew to serve, as he knew his brethren would pour contempt on him by wholesale. In this case, the Romans had been enabled to command the service of Zaccheus, a full- blooded Jew.
“And He was seeking to see Jesus, who He is, and was not able on account of the crowd, because he was small in stature. And having run out in front, he went up into a sycamore-tree, that he may see Him, because He was about to pass that way.” The sycamore is the Egyptian fig-tree, much larger than the Palestinian fig-tree. The largest tree I saw in the Old World was of this species. The fruit is splendid, and very abundant. Hence it is said that Habakkuk was a “gatherer of sycamore fruit.” We see a wonderful manifestation of God’s prevenient grace in the conversion of Zaccheus.
God put the sycamore-tree there for him to climb, that he might see Jesus; and also, the more important, that Jesus might see him. God sent His Spirit there to convict him, and get him ready to climb the tree, or do anything else in order to see Jesus. Depend upon it, it was not a little embarrassing to climb that tree in the presence of the great multitude. For some poor man to climb it, it had been a small matter; but here is the high sheriff of Jericho, a man of wealth and honor, for him to render himself so indecorous and so undignified in the sight of all his rich friends, both Jews and Romans, as to climb that tree, was no small humiliation. Zaccheus had a true conviction. He had counted the cost, and was ready to pay the price, and meet every condition in order to be saved.
“And when he came to the place, Jesus, looking up, said to him, Zaccheus, come down quickly; for it behooves Me to abide in your house this day.” That was the Jewish Sabbath, our Saturday, and the last Sabbath Jesus ever lived on the earth, as He was crucified the following Friday. As He has spent a number of days over in Perea, during which He delivered those thrilling parables recorded by Luke alone, it is highly probable that He crossed the Jordan the preceding day, just one week before His crucifixion, and had occupied the preceding morning traveling across the plain of the Jordan, ten miles, passing Gilgal on the road, and was now passing through Jericho. Hence, I believe, it is in the afternoon, and He proposes to spend the ensuing night in the house of Zaccheus, which was there convenient.
“And he came down speedily, and received Him rejoicing.” How long he had been under a genuine conviction of the Holy Spirit the record is silent. However, we are assured that when he ran on before the crowd and climbed up into the sycamore-tree, he was actuated by the real and genuine conviction of the Spirit, stirring him up to do anything and everything in his power to see Jesus and seek His pardoning mercy. Now you see him hasten down the tree and receive Jesus joyfully. Do you not know he is now converted? Sorrow fills the heart of a penitent sinner. Joy now floods the soul of Zaccheus. Rest assured, he is genuinely converted.
“All seeing Him, began to murmur, saying, He has come in to lodge with a man who is a sinner.” Of course, Zaccheus escorted Him to his house at once, which was there convenient, and, as the day was declining, all knew that He was going to spend the night with him.
“And Zaccheus, standing, said to the Lord, Behold, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if 1 have taken anything from any one fraudulently, I restore fourfold.” The scene now continues in front of Zaccheus’s house, and in the presence of the listening multitude. This testimony gloriously climaxes and abundantly confirms the genuine conversion of Zaccheus. Now look at the case, and see how many of you can compare testimony with him. Remember, he was rich. So this is a notable case for the encouragement of all the rich people, as here they have a genuine conversion. O that all would parallel it! Now hear his protestation in the presence of Jesus, “The half of all my goods I give to the poor.” How we need such men now to help out starving India! Now, you must remember, he was a Jew, a son of Abraham, living under the dispensation of the law of Moses, which specified in case of theft or robbery and all cheating and fraud are stealing and robbing if a man stole a sheep, he was to pay back two; if an ox, three; and if a horse, four. Hence, you see, Zaccheus climaxed the law. Whereas the statement, “If I have defrauded anything from any one,” in English, implies doubt, whether he had or not, it is not so in Greek, in which the case is clear that he had defrauded. So here you see an open proclamation to everybody whom he had cheated to come right along and get four times the amount. Not that they demand it, as they are glad to get the principal back; but he is determined to sweep all defalcation from the field, and leave the devil no handle to get hold of. Zaccheus was a whole-souled fellow. While money was his god, he went for it with all his might, and got it. Now that salvation is the enterprise of life and soul, he proposes to leave no stone unturned, but take the kingdom of heaven by storm. Of course, by the time he gives half of all his estate to the poor, and then restores all his ill-gotten gains fourfold, he has just about nothing left. But he is in a gloriously good fix, blessedly saved, and ready for the oncoming Pentecost, which is all he needs to send him, a flaming evangelist, to the ends of the earth, as he has the true and genuine foundation for a Pentecostal sanctification; i.e., a conversion almost Pauline.
“And Jesus said to him, This day has salvation come to this house, because he is also the son of Abraham.” As Zaccheus was a Jew, a regular, royal descendant of Father Abraham, he hails with joy the blessed Christ of the Abrahamic Covenant, and passes normally out of the dispensation of the law and the prophets, into the kingdom of God. “For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Jesus is seeking every sinner in all the world. It takes two to make a bargain. The reason why hell is filling up with such fearful rapidity is because the sinners do not seek Him. If you are hunting a man in a great city and he is not hunting you, it is doubtful whether you find him. But if he gets to hunting you, there will soon be a happy meeting. As Jesus is already seeking every sinner, when the sinner gets to seeking Him, they will soon meet in joyful embrace.
THE RETURN OF JESUS WITH HIS GLORIOUS KINGDOM
Luke 19:11-27 . This wonderful, inspiring, conclusive, unmistakable, glorious parable was delivered to the multitude by our Savior, in front of the house of Zaccheus, Saturday evening before His crucifixion the following Friday. It is so plain that I do hope every reader will understand and profit by it, as many of the Lord’s dear people have not yet received light on His second and glorious coming. We have no doctrine to give you. We are only endeavoring to expound the Word of the Lord as the blessed Holy Spirit reveals it. “And they, hearing these things, proceeding He spoke a parable, because He is nigh unto Jerusalem, and they are thinking that the kingdom of God is about to appear immediately.” That He will be crowned King of the Jews at the oncoming Passover, which is to open the ensuing Sabbath, they are all fondly and eagerly anticipating. Having waited three years, they see plainly that a momentous crisis is at hand. Having no light on the bloody tragedy looking Him in the face, they are vividly contemplating the coronation scene for which they have been praying ever since His mighty works had convinced them that He must be the Christ of prophecy. You will see plainly from this parable that the connection abundantly justifies the conclusion that the glorious coronation, which they regarded as at that time pending in a few days, is to take place at the second coming, it being His mission during His first advent to suffer and to die; but in the second, to conquer and to reign.
“Then He said, A certain nobleman went away into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.” Herod the Great having died while the infant Jesus was in Egypt, Archelaus, his eldest son, succeeding him, went away from Jericho, as his father died there, to Rome, a great journey for that day fifteen hundred miles to receive the kingdom of Judea from the hands of Augustus Caesar, the Roman emperor, and return to reign over the Jews. But as the Jews didn’t like him, they sent an embassy after him, beseeching the emperor not to crown him king. Consequently the emperor, to their unutterable surprise and disappointment, sent them no king; but turned Judea into a Roman province, sending them Coponius to serve as proconsul, thus taking away their kingdom indefinitely. Though he did not know it, God was in it fulfilling the prophecy, that “the scepter shall depart from Judah.... when Shiloh comes.” This transaction was vivid in the memories o£ the people who heard Him, and forcibly illustrates the case, because at that time Rome ruled the whole world, and no king could reign anywhere unless the emperor crowned him. So all the kings of the earth had to go to Rome to receive their kingdom before they could return to their own country and reign. Now we all know that Jesus Himself is the nobleman, who, instead of reigning at that time, went away to heaven to “receive His kingdom, and return,” illustrating most conclusively the patent fact that the kingdom He is to receive in heaven is special, and, in some important respects, different from the kingdom of grace which He brought with Him on His first advent. Our Lord soon went away to heaven, and is still there. But He is certain to receive this kingdom from the hands of His Father and come back. This conclusion is irresistible, unless you flatly contradict the Savior. I believe Him without the shadow of a doubt, and am constantly looking out to see Him coming back in the glory of that kingdom which He went up to heaven to receive, and return to earth to reign, as this conclusion is irrefutable, from the fact that it was then exemplified throughout the world, all kings going to Rome to receive their kingdom from imperial Caesar, and return with their kingdom to reign over the land given by the emperor. The analogy of this parable clearly warrants the conclusion that our Lord has gone away to heaven to receive a kingdom, and return and reign over this world. More errors in interpretation arise from spiritualizing the literal, and literalizing the spiritual, than any other source. Lord, help us to leave everything where Thou hast put it! If it is literal, let it so remain; if spiritual, let us all say, Amen! Though our Lord certifies that His kingdom is not of this world, yet it by no means follows that it may not have dominion over this world. He rules all other worlds without a rival, and is going to cast out Satan and extend His glorious dominion over all this world.
“And having called his ten servants, he gave to them ten pounds, and said to them, Operate until I come.” Ten is a prominent representative number in the Bible, being a convenient multiple of hundreds, thousands, millions, etc. The mnaa, or mina, translated “pound,” was worth fifteen dollars. You see that he gave the money to his servants; i.e., his own people.
“And his citizens hated him, and sent an embassy after him, saying, We do not wish him to reign over us.” This was literally verified, right there at Jericho, in the case of Archelaus, within the memory of that audience. Hence the parable must have been very forcible with those people. N.B. The citizens here differ widely from his servants the latter being his disciples, and the former the people of this wicked world. How signally is this item of the parable verified this day! The people of the world are panic- stricken at the thought of Jesus coming back. They are glad He is gone, and hope that He will never return. Even the worldly Churches are so horrified at the thought of the Lord’s return that they will not tolerate the proclamation from their pulpits.
“And it came to pass that he returned, having received the kingdom, and said that those servants to whom he had given the money should be called, that he might know what each one had accumulated. And the first came, saying, Lord, thy pound has gained ten pounds. And he said to him, Well done, thou good servant; because thou wast faithful in the least, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound has gained five pounds. And he also said to him, Be thou ruler over five cities. And another came, saying, Lord, behold thy pound, which I had laid up in a napkin; for I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up what thou hast not laid down, and thou reapest what thou hast not sown. And he says to him, Out of thine own mouth I condemn thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knowest that I am an austere man, taking what I have not laid down, and reaping what I have not sown. Wherefore didst not thou indeed give my money to the bank, and having come, I would have received the same with the product?” “Usury,” in the E.V., is all objectionable translation of toko, which is from ticto, “to produce,” and has no such a meaning as unlawful interest, but simply the normal production of the money. Every investment, if judiciously managed, produces something. Money is no exception to commercial investments. The meaning of this passage is, that the man should have judiciously invested the money, instead of secreting it away where it brought no stipend to the proprietor. Of course, the estimation of his lord as an austere, unjust man was utterly false, the fault being in himself. Though a servant, you see that the lord denominates him “wicked,” thus showing up his character as a counterfeit disciple, parallel with the case of the tares growing among the wheat. Of course, these three reports sample all the balance, concerning whom we have no statement.
“And he said to the bystanders, Take the pound from him, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. And they said to him, Lord, he hath ten pounds. I say unto you, that to every one that hath, it shall be given; and from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath.” Here we see a beautiful recognition of the great law of spiritual thrift. Money is magnetic. If you have it and use it judiciously, it will attract from all directions and accumulate. It is so with everything. The soil of the frugal farmer is getting richer and more productive all the time; while that of his profligate, indolent, or injudicious neighbor is constantly wearing out and washing away. Thus, in both temporal and spiritual things, we see people moving with great expedition to diametrically opposite destinies.
“Moreover, these my enemies, who do not wish me to rule over them, lead them hither, and slay them before me.” Here we have the awful destruction of Armageddon, deluging the world with rivers of blood, and heaping it with mountains of the dead, “the great tribulation,” such as the world never saw before and will never see again. The flood was terrible, destroying all the world except one family. The plagues in Egypt, winding up with the desolations of the destroying angel, slaying the first-born in every home, and culminating in the destruction of Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea, was awful. The destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies, a million of people perishing by sword, pestilence, and famine, and a million more being sold into slavery, was an ordeal terrific in the extreme. Yet the indescribable calamities of all former ages will not be comparable to the unutterable woes which shall come upon this densely-populated earth in the last days. God made this world and has the sole right to rule it. With the fall of Jerusalem and the captivity of the Jews, B. C. 387, the last vestige of the Theocracy evanesced from the earth, human rule supervening, and being perpetuated in all lands down to the present day; but destined to be overthrown and utterly exterminated in the great tribulation, when the enemies of our Lord, who are opposed to Divine rule and conservative to human government, shall all be slain. (Daniel 7:9) Here you see the adumbratory light on the Divine administration which shall cover the whole earth in the glorious coming kingdom, flashing out in the case of these two samples of our Lord’s service of those who shall prove faithful during His absence, diligently investing and utilizing His pound, which is committed to all of His servants. You see that the one who had quintupled his money, received the same loving congratulation as the mall who had centupled the pound committed to his care. However, we find each one rewarded according to his industry and thrift the ten-pounder receiving the government of ten cities, and the five-pounder only five. Certainly the natural conclusion is very plain and simple. Our Lord is going to rule this world, in the glorious coming kingdom, through the instrumentality of His transfigured saints, among whom we find an endless diversity of reward.
Of course, none but carnally-minded people will apprehend the administration of the Millennial Theocracy from a selfish standpoint. In the realm of grace, the more we have, the more there is for others. After the multitude ate the loaves and fishes, there was vastly more left than all they began with. Even so in our Lord’s glorious kingdom, the more you receive, the more will be left for others. O what a thrilling inspiration to diligence, application, humility, frugality, industry, and perseverance! Let every one resolve to gain ten pounds, and receive the government of ten cities and the intervening country. I certainly would recoil from the responsibility of explaining away this plain and unequivocal parable of our Lord. O what a privilege to be one of His servants, and receive the pound from His hands, with all the encouragements of heavenly bliss and eternal felicity, on the one side, to inspire indefatigable energy, assiduity, and heroism; and on the other side, the awful incentives of hell and damnation to goad us up, and keep us, on precipitate wing, for truth, righteousness, holiness, and heaven! I certainly pity the exegete who shall undertake to emasculate, enervate, and explain away the lesson of this beautiful and unmistakable parable.
“Saying these things, He was going before them, marching up to Jerusalem.” Four times it has been my privilege to travel that same road from Jericho to Jerusalem. O how fond memories, on the wing of inspired history, did fly back to the days of yore, when Jesus walked along that road, accompanied by His disciples, and followed by the thronging multitude!
John 12:12-19 ; Matthew 21:1-11 ; Matthew 21:14-17 ; Luke 19:29-44 ; Mark 11:1-11 . John: “On the morrow a great multitude, having come to the feast, hearing that Jesus comes into Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm-trees, and came out to meet Him, and continued to cry out, Hosanna! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!” Having arrived at Bethany Sunday evening, and lodged at the house of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, on Monday morning Jesus goes to Jerusalem, over Mount Olivet, as the road then led. Now it goes around it, south of the summit.
Mark: “When they draw near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, near to the Mount of Olives, He sends forth two of His disciples, and says to them, Go ye into the village which is opposite you, and going into it, you will immediately find a colt tied, on which no one of men has sat. And if any one may say to you, Why do you do this? say that the Lord has need of him, and immediately he will send him hither. They departed, and found the colt tied at the door without, on the crossing of two roads, and they are loosing him; and certain ones of those standing there began to say to them, What are you doing, loosing the colt? And they said to them as Jesus commanded. And they led the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him, and He sat on him.” I made a specialty of pursuing this old road over the mountain which Jesus traveled on this notable occasion. Bethphage is about half-way from Bethany to the summit, on the mountain slope. From this place, in the journey, Jesus sent the two disciples, whose names are not given, with orders to go into a village on the mountain in full view, and bring to Him the young donkey, which had never been mounted. Matthew says they brought the mother along with the colt. Those donkeys have wonderful strength, utterly out of proportion to their size, which is quite diminutive. They are much used in the Holy Land, really more than any other domestic animal, the camel ranking next, and being used for all heavy burdens. Some get confused in the statement of Matthew that “He sat on them,” thinking that He rode both of the donkeys, which is untrue, as “them” does not refer to the animals, but to the clothes which they laid on the young animal, and on which Jesus sat. Why did Jesus ride the donkey? Why not a horse? The reason is very obvious. The horse is the symbol of war, being always used in battle; while the donkey, too slow for war, is the universal symbol of peace, and consequently the appropriate animal for the Prince of Peace to ride. Again, the donkey symbolizes humility, as he is the poor man’s animal, eating about as much as a sheep, hardy enough to live in the desert, and so small and tough that he can climb a mountain like a goat. Jesus came, the first time, in His humiliation, homeless and friendless, riding into Jerusalem on the donkey. He will come the second time in His glory, riding on a white cloud.
John: “Jesus, having found the young donkey, sat on him, as has been written, Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, thy King cometh, sitting upon the colt of the donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9) That is certainly a very beautiful prophecy. As Jerusalem occupies the summit of Mount Zion, the application is clear and unmistakable.
Mark: “And many strew their garments in the way; and others cut down the branches from the trees, and continued to strew them in the way. Those going before and those following alter continued to shout, saying, Hosanna! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom coming in the name of our father David I Hosanna in the highest!” Luke says: “He, drawing nigh to the descension of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of His disciples, rejoicing, began to praise God with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen.” After the gushing, Oriental style of saluting kings and conquerors, they threw down their garments for Him to ride over them, demonstrative of their perfect submission to His authority, and at the same time they strew His way with palm-leaves, which are so majestic and beautiful in Oriental climates, and vividly symbolic of royalty, conquest, and victory. They had waited three years for that wonderful hour, and now feel sure that the desideratum for which they had prayed, sighed, and cried to God so long is fast culminating into a glorious reality; and when they reach Jerusalem, they are very sanguine that He will be crowned King of the Jews. At that time there were no factories, and clothing was so scarce and costly, comparatively with our day, that we can hardly estimate the sacrifice which they so cheerfully and gladly made in throwing down the best apparel they had, in the dusty road, for the donkey to tread upon. O they are so glad to hail Him King of the Jews, little dreaming that this grand ovation was but a scintillation of the oncoming glory of the triumphant entry of King Jesus into Jerusalem on the white cloud, symbolized by the white donkey, when the mighty host of angels and glorified saints will accompany Him. Thus they witnessed an exultant prelibation of the grandest triumph in the history of redemption, when our Lord shall descend from heaven on the throne of His glory, accompanied by the celestial millions. The perfect submission they manifested by casting their garments beneath the tread of the donkey, and the royal triumphs emblemized by the palm-leaves strewn in the Conqueror’s path, and the joyous shout of the appreciative disciples, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord! Glory in the highest!” O what a grand adumbration of our Lord’s triumphant return on the throne of His millennial glory, to girdle the globe with peace, righteousness, holiness, and victory! Satan will be chained and imprisoned; the six-thousand-year weekdays of toil, temptation, conflict, and suffering under the dark reign of Satan will be fled and gone, and the bright Sabbath of Eden return in millennial glories,
“Undimmed by sorrow, unhurt by time;”
the earth, exultant from the long winter of sin and oppression, will again leap into the life of perpetual springtime; and sterility, wintry storms, wasting tempests, will retreat forever before the glorious Sun of righteousness, rising on all the world, with healing in His wings, dissipating forever the long, dismal night of sin, and girdling the globe witch God’s hallowed millennial day. As the happy years roll on, the people will forget the awful suffering, conflict, and desolation of bygone ages. This shouting multitude caught a glimpse of the oncoming victory, and thought the long-prayed-for triumph had actually come. But it receded away, leaving bright memories which have inspired the saints in all subsequent ages. While we contemplate this symbolic adumbration of our Lord’s coming glory, let us all thank God and take courage, remembering that we are eighteen hundred and sixty-seven years nearer that glorious hour when the triumphant coming of our King shall not only verify the prophecies, but triumphantly fulfill the thrilling symbolism of this memorable occasion.
John 12:16 . “And His disciples did not at first understand these things; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written in reference to Him, and they did them to Him.” When the Holy Ghost descended on them at Pentecost, sanctifying and flooding them with light on the precious Word, then they were able to tightly divide the Word of Truth, and separate the prophecies some appertaining to His first coming, in humiliation; and others to His glorious coming in triumph. At the time of this public entry into Jerusalem, they were awfully disappointed, because He rendered Himself invisible and passed out of their hands when they came to crown Him King; but the Pentecostal baptism, which followed the glorification of Jesus, gave light on all these mysteries and filled them with joy.
“Then the multitude, being with Him, continued to testify that He called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him up from the dead.” Lazarus was then with Him, one of His loving disciples, and also a host of people who had actually witnessed that wonderful miracle, regarded as the greatest of our Savior’s ministry. Therefore the multitude came to Him because they heard that He had performed this miracle.
“Then the Pharisees said to one another, You see that you profit nothing. Behold, the world has gone after Him.” This grand ovation which Jesus received, along with the popular excitement over the resurrection of Lazarus, stirred the gall of the Pharisees and the higher clergy to the very bottom.
Luke 19:39 “And certain ones of the Pharisees from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Thy disciples.” Dead religion can’t stand hallelujah meetings. They are literal torture to dead professors and dry-bone preachers. “Responding, He said to them, I say unto you, that if they must keep silent, the rocks will shout.” We see that the Lord believes in shouting meetings. This was a more noisy time than you ever witnessed at a holiness camp, and yet the Lord rebuked no one for fanaticism, but commended the whole affair. The Lord is going to be praised with “a loud voice.” If the Churches will not do it, He will convert the drunkards and harlots, though their hearts be hard as stone, till they will shout His praises. The rocks did cry out the next Friday, when He hung on the cross, and they were rent with the earthquake shock.
“And when He drew nigh, seeing the city, He wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even in this thy day, the things appertaining to thy peace; but now they are hidden from thine eyes. Because the days shall come upon thee, and thine enemies will throw a blockade around thee, and encompass thee in a circle, and they will press thee on all sides; they will slay thee and thy children in thee, and will not leave in thee stone upon stone, because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.” On the very spot, descending Mount Olivet, here referred to, where Jesus poured forth gushing tears, weeping over the city, we have a most conspicuous view of all Jerusalem. Christian money has built a beautiful, snowy-white stone church-edifice on that very spot. It is called “The Church of Jesus Weeping.” His omniscient eye saw the great and formidable Roman armies coiled round the city, like a huge boa-constrictor, cutting off all ingress and egress, dooming the inmates to famine, which, along with the sword, slew them so rapidly that interment was impossible. Consequently the pestilential exhalations, from the putrefying corpses, produced an awful pestilence, which swept its withering epidemic through the air, actually competing with the sword and famine by heaping the city with mountains of the dead. Josephus says the horrors of the siege actually beggared all possible description, Jesus, with immortal eyes, seeing the future like the present, gazes on these awful and shocking tragedies, while His pure, tender, unfallen human heart gives way to profoundest pity and lacerating sympathy, till His eyes flood with gushing tears. Only four days intervening till the bloody scene of Calvary is to seal the doom of that devoted city, and expedite the righteous judgments of the Almighty, the Holy Spirit, as we here see from the words of Jesus, having already been grieved away, while hell, with its black legions, has come to the front.
Mark 11:11 . “Jesus came into Jerusalem, and into the temple; and looking round upon all things, the hour already being late, went out to Bethany with the twelve.” You must not forget that “temple,” in these Scriptures, simply means the Holy Campus, which is said now to contain thirty-five acres, with many valuable buildings on it, and more then than now; for none but the priests were admitted into the temple proper. Jesus, with His apostles, had lodged in Bethany the preceding night, and now goes back and lodges there Monday night. If He had lodged in the city, there is no doubt but His enemies would have attacked Him. Having lodged Sunday and Monday nights in Bethany, Tuesday and Wednesday nights in some of the villages on Mount Olivet, He remained in the city Thursday night, being arrested by His enemies at midnight.
Matthew 21:10 . “Jesus having come into Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred, saying, Who is this?” We do not wonder at the excitement and the inquiry which had been produced by an entrance so exceedingly demonstrative. Besides the native population, multitudes have already arrived in the city, that they may prepare for the oncoming Passover. As the children of Abraham, the most enterprising people in the world in all ages, had gone away into all the cities of the known world, there to sojourn and accumulate wealth, therefore to the great annual Passover they came from the ends of the earth. “And the multitudes continued to say, This is Jesus, the Prophet, from Nazareth of Galilee. The blind and the lame were coming to Him in the temple, and He healed them.” Many of them are there now. O how they thronged me, last November and December. begging for contributions, which I was only delighted to give, of course, in small value! Jerusalem this day is a practical Bible looking-glass. O what a glory when the blind and the lame all crowded around Him there in the great Temple Campus, and on their sightless eyeballs He poured the light of day, and made the lame to leap for joy!
“And the high priests and scribes, seeing the wonderful things which He did, and the children in the temple, crying, Hosanna to the Son of David, got mad, and said to Him, Do you hear what they are saying? And Jesus says to them, Yes; have you not read that out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise?” (Psalms 8:3.) We still see that Jesus believes in noisy meetings none too young and none too old to shout aloud the praises of God. It made these big preachers and Church officers very mad; and they still get mad when you get up a sweeping holiness revival, and they hear the people praising the Lord with a loud voice, with no exception of age, sex, race, sect, or color.
THE CLEANSING OF THE TEMPLE
Matthew 21:12-13 ; Luke 19:45-48 ; Mark 11:15-19 . “And they came into Jerusalem; and Jesus, coming into the temple, began to cast out the buyers and sellers in the temple, and He overturned the tables of the money changers, and the seats of those selling doves; and He did not suffer that any one may carry a vessel through the temple. And He was teaching, saying unto them, Has it not been written that My house shall be called the house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves. And the scribes and the chief priests heard, and they were seeking how they shall destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the multitude were delighted with His teaching. And when it was evening, He departed out of the city.” Luke 19:48 : “And they did not find what they can do; for all the people hung on Him, hearing Him.” Our Savior’s ministry embraced four Passovers, beginning with one by purifying the temple, verifying the prophecy, in reference to the Messiah, that on arrival He would come suddenly to the temple and purify it; two Passovers transpiring in the interim of His ministry and this one, at the conclusion, so eminently commemorated by His arrest, prosecution, condemnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, rendering it the most celebrated of all the Passovers since that memorable night when Egypt was visited by the destroying angel, slaying the first-born in every house in all the land, but passing over the tenements occupied by the children of Israel, because, pursuant to the commandment of Moses, they had sprinkled on their door-posts and lintels the blood of the slain lamb, that vivid type of the bleeding Lamb of Calvary which was perpetuated at the great Passover festival, through all the intervening ages, down to this momentous culmination, when they not only slay the innocent typical lamb, but the Great Antitype, who, symbolized by countless millions of bleeding victims through the fugitive ages, now Himself bleeds and dies. Our Lord having purified the temple when inaugurating His ministry, now performs the same responsible and significant office in the conclusion. He will also, when He comes in His glory, give it a complete and final purgation, as it will be polluted no more, Satan having been east out. This traffic in beasts and birds was for the accommodation of multitudes, coming from afar, who desired to purchase a sacrifice, the birds being kept on hand for the especial accommodation of the poor. While in this you might see a degree of plausibility, doubtless much fraudulent dealing for the sake of filthy lucre had crept in among them, as we see plainly indicated by the Savior calling them thieves. All cheating and defrauding are theft in the sight of God, however honorable in the estimation of men. The temple was the house of God upon the earth in a sense vastly more preeminent than any other sanctuary in all the world, the great end in view being the rendezvous of God’s saints, that they might prevail in prayer for all the nations of the earth. It is very sad to contemplate the fairs, festivals, frolics, and fandangoes now so frequently held in church edifices, to the grief of the Holy Spirit and the profanation of God’s temple. Every, preacher should walk in the footprints of Jesus in this and every other respect, making a specialty of purifying the Church in the inauguration and the conclusion of His ministry. No one has a right to hold a pastoral charge in the ministry of Christ unless he exemplified Him in all his ministration. This bold procedure was very offensive to the hierarchy, who looked upon Him as an intruder and a usurper, and would have interfered if they had not feared the people, who were so delighted with His preaching that they hung on Him spellbound.
Luke 21:37-38 . “And He was teaching in the temple during the days, and at night, going out, He was lodging in the mount called Olivet. And all the people were assembled unto Him in the temple to hear Him.” Tuesday night and Wednesday night He lodged in some of the villages on Mount Olivet, having spent the two preceding nights in Bethany; Thursday night He was arrested, and Friday night He was in the sepulcher. Jerusalem was this week thronged with vast multitudes, not only those having come to the Passover, but the whole country was on tiptoe with excitement about Jesus, a tremendous popular sensation breaking out three years previously, when John so powerfully preached Him to the multitudes attending his ministry, and increasing through the three successive years, having spread abroad into all nations, so that now the world is aroused and waiting spellbound to witness the issue impending, they know not what.