Bible Commentaries
Luke 19

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Verse 1

And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.

The opening verse shows that this remarkable incident occurred at the same time with the foregoing.

And Jesus entered. Since the word "Jesus" is not in the original, it should not have been inserted here. The rendering should be, 'And He entered,' showing that the occasion is the same as before.

And passed through, [ dieercheto (G1330)] - rather, 'was passing through' "Jericho" - as to which, see the notes at Luke 10:30-31.

Verse 2

And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

And, behold, there was a man named Zaccheus - the same as Zacchai, Ezra 2:9; Nehemiah 7:14. From Luke 19:9 it is evident that he was a Jew, and what he says in Luke 19:8 would have proved it too.

Which was, [ kai (G2532 ) autos (G846 ), 'and the same was'] the chief among the publicans (a high revenue official), and he was rich. Ill-gotten riches some of it certainly was, as we shall see the note at Luke 19:8. For the office and character of the publicans, see the note at Matthew 5:46, and at Luke 15:1.

Verse 3

And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

And he sought to see Jesus - not to listen to His teaching, or obtain anything from Him, but merely to see

Who he was - what sort of person this was, about whom there was so much speculation, and after whom such crowds were following. Curiosity, then, was his only motive, though his determination not to be baulked was overruled for more than he sought.

And could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

Verse 4

And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.

And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree (the Egyptian fig, with leaves like the mulberry) to see him: for he was to pass that way. Thus eager to put himself in the way of Jesus, low as his motive was, he was rewarded by what he little dreamt of.

Verse 5

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up - in the full knowledge of who was in that tree, and preparatory to addressing him,

And saw him, and said unto him, Zaccheus - whom He had never before seen in the flesh, nor probably heard of by report; but "He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out" (John 10:3).

Make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house. Our Lord invites Himself, and that in right royal style, which waits not for invitations, but-since the honour is done to the subject, not the sovereign-announces the purpose of royalty to partake of the subject's hospitalities. Manifestly our Lord speaks as knowing how the privilege would be appreciated. Accordingly, with an alacrity which in such a person surprises us, he does exactly as bidden. "Make haste."

Verse 6

And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

And he made haste ("and come down,") and came down ("for today I must abide at thy house,") and received him joyfully. Whence this so sudden "joy" in the cold bosom of an avaricious publican? The internal revolution was as perfect as it was instantaneous. He who spake to Matthew the publican but those witching words, "Follow me," and "he arose, left all, and followed Him" - He who said to the man with the withered hand, "Stretch forth thine hand," and "he stretched it out, and it was restored whole as the other" - the same said to the heart of Zaccheus at one and the same moment as to his ear, "Make haste and come down; for today I must abide at thy house." He with whom Zaccheus had to do had but to "speak, and it was done;" though few penetrated to the secret of this as the centurion did, at whose faith Jesus "marveled" (Luke 7:7-9). At the same time one can trace the steps of this revolution in the mind of Zaccheus. In the look which Christ gave him - "When Jesus came to the place, He looked up," singling him out from all others-he must have seen something of a purpose toward himself, which would at once arrest him attention. Then, His addressing him by name, as perfectly familiar with him, though He had never seen or heard of him before-this would fill him with amazement, and make the thought instantly flash across his mind, 'This must be the Christ He claims to be!' But when the call followed, in such wonderful terms - "Make haste, and come down, for today I must abide at thy house" - the conscious majesty of it, and the power with which it was spoken, as if sure of instant and glad obedience, doubtless completed the conquest of his mind and heart. But these, though the avenues through which Christ found His way into Zaccheus' heart, must not be regarded as the whole explanation of the change upon him. (See the note at Acts 16:14.)

Verse 7

And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

And when they saw it, they all murmured. We have gotten so accustomed to this in the Gospel History, that we know the classes that must be here referred to - "the Pharisees and scribes" (Luke 15:2), or their echoes among the multitude.

Saying, That he was gone to be guest, [ katalusai (G2647)] - or, 'take up His lodging,' as the same word is rendered in Luke 9:12. The word signifies to 'unloose' or 'unyoke,' as travelers do where they are to rest for the night. (See Genesis 24:23, in Septuagint)

With a man that is a sinner. No, captious Pharisees; he was a sinner up until a minute ago, but now he is a new creature, as his own lips shall presently make manifest.

Verse 8

And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

And Zaccheus stood - stood forth, openly before all; and said unto the Lord, Behold, Lord. Mark how frequently our Evangelist uses this title, especially where lordly authority, dignity, grace, or power is intended.

The half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation

- `defrauded,' 'overcharged,' any man, assessing him on a false representation of his means, or of the value of the articles for which he was rated, which was but too common with this class (see Luke 3:12-13),

I restore him four-fold. The "if" here is not meant to express any doubt of the fact, but only the difficulty, where there had been so much of this, to fix upon the eases and the extent of the unrighteous exactions. The meaning, then, is, 'in so far as I have done this.' The Roman law required this four-fold restitution; the Jewish law, but the principal, and a fifth more (Numbers 5:7). There was no demand made for either; but, as if to revenge himself on his hitherto reigning sin (see the note at John 20:28), and to testify the change he had experienced, besides surrendering the half of his fair gains to the poor, he voluntarily determines to give up all that was ill gotten, quadrupled. And what is worthy of notice, in the presence of all he gratefully addressed this to "the Lord," to whom he owed the wonderful change.

Verse 9

And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

And Jesus said unto him (and this also before all, and for the information of all), This day is salvation come to this house. Memorable saying! Salvation has already come, but it is not a day nor an hour old. The word "to this house" was probably designed to meet the taunt, 'He is gone to lodge at a sinner's house.' The house, says Jesus, is no longer a sinner's house polluted and polluting: ''Tis now a saved house, all meet for the reception of Him who came to save.' What a precious idea is salvation to a house, expressing the new air that would henceforth breathe in it, and the new impulses from its head which would reach its members.

Forsomuch as he also, [ kathoti (G2530) kai (G2532) autos (G846)] - 'inasmuch as even he,' publican though he be, and acting until now in the unprincipled way which even himself has confessed-even he

Is a son of Abraham. He was that by birth, but here it means a partaker of Abraham's faith, being mentioned as the sufficient explanation of salvation having come to him. (Galatians 3:26; Galatians 3:29; and for Abraham's faith as evidenced by works, as here, see James 2:22.)

Verse 10

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. A remarkable expression-not 'them,' but 'that' which was lost [ to (G3588) apoloolos (G622)]; that is, the mass of lost sinners. Zaccheus was simply one such; and in saving him, Jesus says He was not going out of His way, but just doing His proper work. He even explains why He waited not for Zaccheus to apply to Him; because, says He, 'My business is to seek as well as save such.'


(1) Whatever brings souls in contact with Christ is hopeful. When Zaccheus "sought to see Jesus, who He was," nothing probably was further from his mind than becoming His disciple, and a new creature. But that mere curiosity of his, and the step he took to gratify it, were the "cords of a man" by which he was drawn into the position for Christ's eye and voice of love and power to reach him. On his part, all was the operation of nature, ordinary, everyday principles of action: on Christ's part, all was supernatural, divine. But so it is in every conversion. Hence, the importance of bringing those we love, and for whose conversion we long and pray, within the atmosphere of those means, and in contact with those truths, on the wings of which Christ's power and grace are wont to reach the heart. What thousands have thus, all unexpectedly to themselves, been transformed into new creatures!

(2) What a testimony to instantaneous conversion have we here! Against this there are groundless prejudices even among Christians; which, it is to be feared, arise from want of sufficient familiarity with the laws and activities of the spiritual life. Though the fruit of a sovereign operation of Grace upon their own hearts, Christians are nevertheless in danger of sinking into such a secular spirit, that the supernatural character of their Christian life is scarcely felt, and lively spirituality hardly known. No wonder, then, that such should view with suspicion changes like this, which by their instantaneousness reveal a kind of divine operation to which they are themselves too great strangers. But what else than instantaneous can any conversion be? The preparation for it may be very gradual; it may take a hundred or a thousand steps to bring the very means which are to be effectual right up to the heart, and the heart itself into a frame for yielding to them. But once let it come to that, and the transition from death to life must be instantaneous-the last surrender of the heart must be so. The result of such words from heaven as "Live"! (Ezekiel 16:6): "Be thou clean"! (Matthew 8:3): "Thy sins be forgiven thee"! (Mark 11:5): "Make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house"!-cannot but be instantaneous, as when they issued from the lips of Jesus in the days of His flesh. The "taking away of the stone" before Lazarus' resurrection, and "loosing and letting him go" after it, as they were human operations, so they took a little time, though not a great deal. But when "the Resurrection and the Life" said, "Lazarus, come forth!" his resuscitation was instantaneous, and could not but be. See the note at John 11:39; John 11:44.

(3) The best evidence of conversion lies in the undoing or reversal of those things by which our former sinfulness was chiefly marked-the conquest of what are called 'besetting sins.' Had Zaccheus lived before chiefly to hoard up? Now, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor." A large proportion of his means this, to part with at once to those who were in want. But further, did Zaccheus become "rich" by appropriating to himself the excess of his exactions "by false accusation"? "If I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him four-fold." The frozen heart had melted down, the clenched fist had opened, and-unlike the rich young ruler (Luke 18:23) - the idol had been dethroned. This was a change indeed. See on the wise injunctions of the Baptist to the different classes that asked him how they were to manifest their repentance-on Luke 3:12.

(4) When religion comes into the heart, it will find its way into the house, as into that of Zaccheus. For it is in one's house that one is most himself. There, he is on no stiff ceremony; there, if anywhere, he opens out; there he acts as he is. Where religion is not, the home is the place to reveal it; where it is, it is the air of home that draws it out, like perfumes which the zephyr wafts to all around. Hence, the bold language of the apostle to the jailer of Philippi, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:31; and see also Luke 19:14-15). "The voice of rejoicing and salvation is not only in the hearts but in the houses, not only in the temples but "in the tabernacles of the righteous" (Psalms 118:15).

(5) Until men are converted and become new creatures they are "lost," in the account of Christ-in what sense may be seen in the case of the Prodigal son, who was "lost" when a run-away from his father and "found" when he returned and was welcomed back as a penitent. (See the note at Luke 15:24.) Accordingly, as being the common condition of all whom Christ came to save, they are represented as "that which is lost." But if the worst features of men's fallen state are held forth without disguise in the teaching of Christ, it is only to commend the remedy, and encourage those who have felt it most deeply not to despair. For "the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost." It was His errand; it is His business; and this glorious case of Zaccheus-He Himself assures us-is but a specimen-case. Multitudes of them there have since been, but there are more to come; and when any are ready to sink under insupportable discoveries of their lost state; we are warranted to tell them that theirs is just a case for the Lord Jesus - "for the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost!"

That this parable is quite a different one from that of THE TALENTS (in Matthew 25:14-30) - although Calvin, Olshausen, Meyer, etc., but not de Wette and Neander, identify them-will appear from the following considerations: First, This parable was spoken "when He was nigh to Jerusalem" (Luke 19:11); that one, some days after entering it, and from the Mount of Olives. Second, This parable was spoken to the promiscuous crowd; that, to the Twelve alone. Accordingly, Third, Besides the "servants" in this parable, who profess subjection to Him, there is a class of "citizens" who refuse to own Him, and who are treated differently; whereas in the Talents, spoken to the former class alone, the latter class is omitted. Fourth, In the Talents, each servant receives a different number of them-five, two, one; in the Pounds, all receive the same one pound (which is but about the sixtieth part of a talent); also, in the Talents, each of the faithful servants shows the same fidelity by doubling what he received-the five are made ten, the two four; in the Pounds, each, receiving the same, renders a different return-one making his pound ten, another five. Plainly, therefore, the intended lesson is different; the one illustrating equal fidelity with different degrees of advantage; the other, different degrees of improvement of the same opportunities. And yet, with all this difference, the parables are remarkably similar.

Verse 11

And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.

And as they heard - or were listening to, these things, he added and spake, [ prostheis (G4369) eipen And as they heard - or were listening to, these things, he added and spake, [ prostheis (G4369) eipen (G2036)] - or 'went on to speak;' which shows that this followed close upon the preceding incident:

A parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear [ anafainesthai (G398)] - or be visibly set up as soon as He reached the capital. So that this was designed more immediately for His own disciples, as is also evident from the nature of the parable itself.

Verse 12

He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.

He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country - said to put down the notion that He was just on His way to set up His kingdom, and to inaugurate it by His personal presence.

To receive for himself a kingdom - to be invested with royalty; as when Herod went to Rome and was there made king: a striking expression of what our Lord went away for and received, "sitting down at the right hand of the majesty on high."

And to return - at His Second coming.

Verse 13

And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.

And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy, [ Pragmateusasthe (G4231)] - 'Negociate,' 'do business,' with the resources entrusted to you.

Till I come.

Verse 14

But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. But his citizens hated him, sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.

It is a great misconception of this parable to confound these "citizens" with the "servants." The one repudiate all subjection to Him; the other, not excepting the unfaithful one, acknowledge Him as Master. By the "citizens" historically are here meant the Jews as a nation, who were Christ's "own," as "King of the Jews," but who expressly repudiated Him in this character, saying, "We have no king but Cesar" (John 19:15.) But generally, and in Christendom, this class comprehends all infidel, open rejecters of Christ and Christianity, as distinguished from professed Christians.

Verses 15-26

And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.

The reckoning here is so very similar to that in Matthew 25:19-29, that the same exposition will answer for both; if only it be observed that here we have different degrees of future gracious reward, proportioned to the measure of present fidelity.

Verse 27

But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. Compare 1 Samuel 15:32-33. The reference is to the awful destruction of Jerusalem; but it points to the final perdition of all who shall be found in open rebellion against Christ.

For Remarks on this section, see those at Matthew 25:14-30, at the close of that section.

It will be seen, from the parallels, that we are now coming to those scenes of which we have the concurrent records of all the Four Evangelists. And no wonder, considering how pregnant with the life of the world are those scenes of majesty and meekness, of grace and glory, of patience and power, of death, with elements of unutterable anguish, and life, with issues in its bosom inconceivably glorious. The river, the streams whereof make glad the City of God-but O, with what an awful gladness!-now parts, as befits the river of our Paradise, into its "four heads."

Verse 28

And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem.

And when he had thus spoken, he went before. See the note at Mark 10:32, and Remark 1 at the close of that section.

Ascending up to Jerusalem. Here occurs an important gap, supplied in the Fourth Gospel.

John 12:1: "Then Jesus, six days before the Passover" - probably after sunset on the Friday Evening, or at the commencement of the Jewish Sabbath, which preceded the Passover - "came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom He [had] raised from the dead." There, if we are right as to the time of His arrival, He would spend His last Sabbath among friends peculiarly dear to Him, and possibly it was on the evening of that Sabbath that "there they made Him a supper, at the house of Simon the leper." See the note at Mark 14:3, etc. At all events, it was on the day following, which was the First Day of the Week, that He made this His triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. This corresponded to the tenth day of the month Nisan, in the Jewish year, the day on which the paschal lamb was separated from the rest of the flock, and set apart for sacrifice: it was "kept up until the fourteenth day," on which "the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel were to kill it in the evening" [ beeyn (H996) haa`arbaayim (H6153)] literally, 'between the two evenings' (as in the margin); that is, between three o'clock-the hour of the evening sacrifice-and six o'clock, or the close of the Jewish day (Exodus 12:3; Exodus 12:6). Who can believe that this was a mere coincidence? Who that observes how every act in the final scenes was alluded to, arranged and carried out with a calm dignity, as seeing the end from the beginning, can doubt that "Christ our Passover" who was to be "sacrificed for us," designed, by His solemn entry into the bloody city, yet the appointed place of sacrifice, to hold Himself forth as from this time set apart for sacrifice? Accordingly, He never after this properly left Jerusalem-merely sleeping at Bethany, but spending the whole of every day in the city.

Verse 29

And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples,

And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called [the mount] of Olives. Our Evangelist alludes thus generally to Bethany, as if our Lord had merely passed by it, on His way to Jerusalem, because He was not to relate anything about His stay there, but only that He took it on His route to the capital. The word "Bethphage" [= beeyt (H1004) pagee' (H6291)] means 'Fig-house,' no doubt from the profusion of that fruit which this spot produced. That it lay, as Bethany did, on the eastern side of the mount of Olives, or the side farthest from the capital, is certain: but no traces of it are now to be found, and whether it was east or west, north or south, of Bethany, is not agreed. The small village of Bethany [beeyt 'ªniyaah], meaning 'Date-house,' yet remains, 'pleasantly situated,' says Thomson, 'near the southeastern base of the mount, and having many fine trees about and above it.'

He sent two of his disciples,

Verse 30

Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither.

Saying, Go ye into the village over against you (that is, Bethphage); in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat. This last remarkable particular is mentioned both by Matthew and Mark. On its significance, see the note at John 19:41.

Verse 31

And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.

And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him - "and straightway he will send him hither" (Mark 11:3). Remarkable words! But the glorious Speaker knew all, and had the key of the human heart. (See the note at Luke 19:5.) It is possible the owner was a disciple; but whether or no, the Lord knew full well what the result would be. A remarkable parallel to it will be found in the case of Samuel (see 1 Samuel 10:2-7); but with this noteworthy difference, that it is impossible to read the narrative of Samuel's directions without observing that he knew himself all the while to be but a servant of the Lord, whereas the Lord Himself is in every utterance and act of Jesus on this occasion.

Verse 32

And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them.

And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them. Mark is so singularly precise here, that it is impossible to doubt that the description is fresh from one of the two disciples sent on this errand; and in that case, who can it be but Peter, of whose hand in this Gospel all antiquity testifies and internal evidence is so strong? Probably John was the other (compare Mark 14:13, with Luke 22:8). "And they went their way (says Mark), and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him." Had not the minutest particulars of this grand entry into Jerusalem burned themselves into the memory of those dear disciples that were honoured to take part in the preparations for it, such unimportant details had never been recorded.

Verse 33

And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt?

And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt?

Verse 34

And they said, The Lord hath need of him.

And they said, The Lord hath need of him - "and (says Mark) they let them go."

Verse 35

And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.

And they brought him to Jesus. Matthew here gives an important particular, omitted by the other Evangelists. He says "they brought the donkey and the colt." Of course, the unbroken colt would be all the more tractable by having its dam to go along with it. The bearing of this minute particular on the prophecy about to be quoted is very striking.

And they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon - He allowing them to act this part of attendants on royalty, as befitting the state He was now, for the first and only time, assuming.

Matthew here notes the well-known prophecy which was fulfilled in all this, on which we must pause for a little: "All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet (Zechariah 9:9), saying, Tell ye (or, 'Say ye to') the daughter of Zion" - quoting here another bright Messianic prophecy (Isaiah 62:11) in place of Zechariah's opening words, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: Behold, thy King cometh unto thee." Here the prophet adds, "He is just, and having salvation" or 'helped' - [nowshaa`]; but the Evangelist omits these, passing on to what relates to the lowly character of His royalty: "meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt, the foal of an ass." It was upon the foal that our Lord sat, as Mark and Luke expressly state. While the horse was an animal of war, the donkey was used for purposes of peace. In the times of the Judges, and for a considerable time afterward, horses were not used at all by the Israelites, and so even distinguished persons rode on donkeys (Judges 5:10; Judges 10:4; Judges 12:14) - but not from any nobleness in that animal, or its being an emblem of royalty, as some say. 'Nor,' to use the words of Hengstenberg, 'in all our accounts of the donkeys of the East, of which we have a great abundance, is there a single example of an donkey being ridden by a king, or even a distinguished officer, on any state occasion; whereas here it is expressly in His royal capacity that the prophet says Jerusalem's King is to ride upon an ass.' And there are not wanting proofs, adduced by this able critic, that in the East the donkey was and is regarded with a measure of contempt.

And does not the fulfillment of the prophecy which we behold here itself show that lowliness was stamped upon the act, royal though it was? 'Into the same city,' adds the critic just quoted, 'which David and Solomon had so frequently entered on mules or horses richly caparisoned, and with a company of proud horsemen as their attendants, the Lord rode on a borrowed ass, which had never been broken in; the wretched clothing of His disciples supplying the place of a saddlecloth, and His attendants consisting of people, whom the world would regard as a mob and rabble.' This critic also, by an examination of the phrase used by the prophet, "the foal of asses," infers that it means an donkey still mostly dependent upon its mother, and regards the use of this as a mark of yet greater humiliation in a King. In short, it was the meekness of majesty which was thus manifested, entering the city with royal authority, yet waiving, during His humbled state, all the external grandeur that shall yet accompany that authority.

On this remarkable prophecy, so remarkably fulfilled, we notice two other points. First, the familiar and delightful name given to the chosen people, "The daughter of Zion," or, as we might conceive of it, 'the offspring of Zion's ordinances,' born and nursed amid its sanctities-deriving all their spiritual life from the Religion which had its center and seat in Zion; next, the prophetic call to the chosen people to "Rejoice greatly" at this coming of their King to His own proper city. And the joy with which Jesus was welcomed on this occasion into Jerusalem was all the more striking a fulfillment of this prophecy, that it was far from being that intelligent, deep, and exultant welcome which the prophetic Spirit would have had Zion's daughter to give to her King. For if it was so superficial and fickle a thing as we know that it was, all the more does one wonder that it was so immense in its reach and volume; nor is it possible to account for it except by a wave of feeling-a mysterious impulse-sweeping over the mighty mass from above, in conformity with high arrangements, to give the King of Israel for once a visible, audible, glad welcome to His Own regal City.

Verse 36

And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.

And as he went (or proceeded onwards toward the city), they spread their clothes in the way - that is, the gathering crowds did so; attracted, probably, in the first instance, by the novelty of the spectacle, but a higher view of it by and by flashing across them. Matthew says, "And a very great multitude" - or 'the immense multitude' [ Ho (G3588) de (G1161) pleistos (G4118) ochlos (G3793)] "spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way." This casting of their garments beneath His feet was an ancient Oriental way of expressing the homage of a people toward their sovereign, or one whom they wished to welcome as such-as we see in the case of Jehu (2 Kings 9:13). And spreading a gorgeous cloth over the pathway that is to be trodden by a monarch on any great occasion, is our modern way of doing the same thing.

Verse 37

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives (just as He approached the city), the whole multitude of the disciples - in the wider sense of that term - "that went before and that followed" (Matthew 21:9.) - both the van and the rear of this immense mass,

Began (or proceeded), to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice. The language here is unusually grand, intended to express a burst of admiration far wider and deeper than ever had been witnessed before.

For all the mighty works [or 'miracles' dunameoon (G1411 )] that they had seen - the last and grandest, the resurrection of Lazarus, only crowning a series of unparalleled wonders.

Verse 38

Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

Saying, - "Hosanna" (Matthew, Mark, and John); that is, "Save now" [ howshiy`aah (H3467) naa'

(H4994)] Psalms 118:25.

Blessed [be] - or 'is,' as rendered in Matthew and John. Either way, it is their glad welcome to "the King that cometh in the name of the Lord".

The King that cometh in the name of the Lord - in John (John 12:13), "the King of Israel;" in Matthew (Matthew 21:9), "the Son of David;" in Mark (Mark 11:9-10), after "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord," another exclamation is added, "Blessed be the Kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord." In all likelihood, the exclamation was variously uttered by the multitude, and the same voices may have varied their acclaim, as they repeated it over and over again,

Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. The multitude of the heavenly host, remarks Bengel, said at His birth, "Peace on earth" (Luke 2:14), this earthly multitude say, "Peace in heaven." A great truth, indeed, but uttered in ignorance. Christ's entry into Jerusalem now meant peace in both senses; but, alas, they "knew not the things that belonged to their peace." In Matthew and Mark another "Hosanna in the highest" is substituted for this; and, doubtless, it was repeated often enough. In thus uttering the grand Messianic words of Psalms 118:25 - which lie embosomed in those rich Evangelical anticipations that formed part of the Great Hallel, as it was called, or Passover-Psalms, to be sung by all the people in a few days, and which were understood to refer to the Messiah-they acted, all unconsciously, as the representatives of the true Church welcoming Her King, aye, and of the literal Israel, who will one day hail Him with a transport of joy, but mingled with weeping. (Compare Matthew 23:39, with Zechariah 12:10).

A very important addition is here made in the Fourth Gospel: John 12:16-19. "These things understood not His disciples at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they (see John 14:26) that these things were written of Him" - referring more immediately to the prophecies just quoted from Psalms 118:1-29 and Zechariah 9:1-17, but generally to those Messianic portions of the Old Testament which had until then been overlooked - "and that they had done these things unto him." The Spirit, descending on them from the glorified Saviour at Pentecost, opened their eyes suddenly to the true sense of the Old Testament, brought vividly to their recollection this and other Messianic predictions, and to their unspeakable astonishment showed them that they, and all the actors in these scenes, had been unconsciously fulfilling those predictions. "The people therefore that was with Him when He called Lazarus out of His grave, and raised Him from the dead, bare record" - probably telling others in the crowd what they had so recently witnessed, as additional evidence that this must be "He that cometh in the name of the Lord." "For this cause the people" - or 'the multitude' [ ho (G3588) ochlos (G3793)] "also met Him, for that they heard that He had done this miracle." The crowd was thus largely swelled in consequence of the stir which the resurrection of Lazarus made in and about the city. "The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye" - or 'Ye perceive' [ theooreite (G2334)], "how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after Him" - a popular way of speaking: 'He is drawing all men after Him;' a saying, as Bengel remarks, in which there lay something prophetic, like that of Caiaphas (John 11:50-52), and that of Pilate (John 19:19). This was spoken evidently with deep indignation; and was as much as to say, 'We cannot allow this to go any further, steps must be immediately taken to get rid of Him, else all will be lost.'

Verse 39

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master [`Teacher', Didaskale (G1320 )], rebuke thy disciples - a bold throw this, evidently to test Him, because they could hardly think that it would be done.

Verse 40

And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

And he answered and said unto them - using this Pharisaic interruption as but an opportunity for giving vent to His pent up feelings in the hearing of all around Him --

I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out, [ kekraxontai (G2896), paulo-post fut. This rare tense is better supported here, we think, than the simple future, kraxousin (G2896), 'will cry out,' adopted by Tischendorf, Tregelles, and Alford, but not Lachmann]. In Habakkuk 2:11 we have nearly the same saying. But it was proverbial even among the Greeks and Romans, and Webster and Wilkinson quote a Greek couplet and a passage from Cicero precisely the same. Hitherto the Lord had discouraged all demonstrations in his favour; latterly He had begun an opposite course; on this one occasion He seems to yield His whole soul to the wide and deep acclaim with a mysterious satisfaction, regarding it as so necessary a part of the regal dignity in which as Messiah He for this last time entered the city, that if not offered by the vast multitude, it would have been wrung out of the stones rather than be city, that if not offered by the vast multitude, it would have been wrung out of the stones rather than be withheld!

Verse 41

And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,

And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it. "Mine eye" said the weeping prophet, "affecteth mine heart" (Lamentations 3:51); and the heart in turn fills the eye. Under this sympathetic law of the relation of mind and body, Jesus, in His beautiful, tender humanity, was constituted even as we. What a contrast to the immediately preceding profound joy! But He yielded Himself alike freely to both.

Verse 42

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.

Saying, If thou hadst known - `But, alas! thou hast not.' This "If" is the most emphatic utterance of a wish for that which cannot be, or is not likely to be realized. (Compare Joshua 7:7, in Hebrew, and Job 16:4.)

Even thou. This may be joined to the preceding-`If even thou hadst known' [ ei (G1487) egnoos (G1097) kai (G2532) su (G4771)]. There is deep and affecting emphasis on this "Thou:" - `Far as thou art gone, low as thou hast sunk, all but hopeless as thou art, yet if even thou hadst known!'

At least in this thy day - even at this most moving moment. See the note at Luke 13:9,

The things [which belong] unto thy peace! [ ta (G3588) pros (G4314) eireeneen (G1515) sou (G4675)] - or, as Luther and Beza render it, 'which make for thy peace' (was zu deinem Frieden dienet-quoe ad pacem tuam faciunt). It has been thought, by Wetstein and others since, that there is some allusion here to the original name of the city - "Salem," meaning 'Peace' [ shaalowm (H7965)].

But now they are hid from thine eyes. This was among His last open efforts to "gather" them, but their eyes were judicially closed. (See the notes at Matthew 13:13-14.)

Verse 43

For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,

For the days shall come, [ hoti (G3754 ) heexousin (G2240 ) heemerai (G2250 ), 'For there shall come days'] upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, [ charaka (G5482)] - rather a palisaded 'rampart.' The word signifies any 'pointed stake;' but here it denotes the Roman military vallum, a mound or rampart with palisades. In the present case, as we learn from Josephus, it was made first of wood; and when this was burnt, a wall of four miles' circuit was built in three days-so determined were the besiegers. This 'cut off all hope of escape,' and consigned the city to unparalleled horrors. (Josephus, Jewish Wars, 5: 6. 2; and 12: 3. 4.)

And compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,

Verse 44

And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another. All here predicted was with dreadful literality fulfilled, and the providence which has preserved such a remarkable commentary on it as the record of Josephus-an eye-witness from first to last, a Jew of distinguished eminence, an officer of high military capacity in the Jewish army, and when taken prisoner living in the Roman camp, and acting once and again as a negotiator between the contending parties-cannot be too devoutly acknowledged.

Our Evangelist gives no record of the first day's proceedings in Jerusalem, after the triumphal Entry; for what follows (Luke 19:45-48) belongs to the second and subsequent days. Mark disposes of this in a single verse (Luke 11:11), while in the Fourth Gospel there is nothing on the subject. But in Matthew 21:10-11; Matthew 21:14-16, we have the following precious particulars:


Matthew 21:10. "And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved" - as the cavalcade advanced - "Saying, Who is this? Matthew 21:11. And the multitude" - rather 'the multitudes' [ hoi (G3588) ochloi (G3793)] from the procession itself - "said, This is Jesus, the prophet of," or 'from' - [ ho (G3588) apo (G575)] "Nazareth of Galiee." By this they evidently meant something more than a mere prophet; and from John 6:14-15, and this whole scene, it seems plain that they meant by this exclamation that it was the expected Messiah.


Matthew 21:14. "And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple" [ en (G1722) too (G3588) hieroo (G2411)] - in the large sense of that word (see the note at Luke 2:27), "and He healed them." If these miracles were performed after the cleansing of the temple-as one would gather from Matthew-since they were performed in the very temple-court from which the money changers had been cleared out-they would set a divine seal on that act of mysterious authority. But as the second Gospel is peculiarly precise as to the order of these events, we incline to follow it, in placing the cleansing of the Temple on the second day. Yet these miracles performed in the temple on the lame and the blind are most touching, as the last recorded miraculous displays of His glory-with the single exception of the majestic Cleansing of the Temple-which He gave in public.


Matthew 21:15. "And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things which he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David" - which was just the prolonged echo of the popular acclamations on His triumphal entry, but drawn forth anew from these children, on witnessing what doubtless filled their unsophisticated minds with wonder and admiration - "they were sore displeased. Matthew 21:16. And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say?" - stung most of all by this novel testimony to Jesus, as showing to what depths His popularity was reaching down, and from the mysterious effect of such voices upon the human spirit. "And Jesus saith unto them, Have ye never read (in Psalms 8:2) Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?" This beautiful psalm is repeatedly referred to as prophetic of Christ, and this is the view of it which a sound interpretation of it will be found to yield. The testimony which it predicts that Messiah would receive from "babes" - a very remarkable feature of this prophetic psalm-was indeed here literally fulfilled, as was that of His being "numbered with the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:12), and "pierced" (Zechariah 12:10); but like those and similar predictions, it reaches deeper than literal babes, even the "babes" to whom are revealed the mysteries of the Gospel. See the note at Matthew 11:25.

Thus, it would seem, ended the first memorable day of the Redeemer's last week in Jerusalem. Of the close of it the following is the brief account of the First and Second Gospels, which we combine into one: "And He left them; and when now the eventide was come, He went out of the city into Bethany, with the Twelve, and he lodged there" (Matthew 21:17; Mark 11:11).

Before proceeding to the Remarks which this grand scene suggests, let us first retrace it. And here we copy entire the most graphic and beautiful description of it which we have read, by one of the most recent travelers, whose minute and patient accuracy is only equalled by his rare faculty of word-painting. 'From Bethany,' says Dr. Stanley, 'we must begin. A wild mountain-hamlet screened by an intervening ridge from the view of the top of Olivet, perched on its broken plateau of rock, the last collection of human habitations before the desert hills which reach to Jericho-this is the modern village of El-Lazarieh, which derives its name from its clustering round the traditional site of the one house and grave which give it an undying interest. High in the distance are the Peraean mountains; the foreground is the deep descent to the Jordan valley. On the further side of that dark abyss Martha and Mary knew that Christ was abiding when they sent their messenger; up that long ascent they had often watched His approach-up that long ascent He came, when, outside the village, Martha and Mary met Him, and the Jews stood round weeping.

Up that same ascent He came also at the beginning of the week of His Passion. One night He halted in the village, as of old; the village and the Desert were then all alive,-as they still are once every year at the Greek Easter-with the crowd of Paschal pilgrims moving to and fro between Bethany and Jerusalem. In the morning He set forth on His journey. Three pathways lead, and probably always led, from Bethany to Jerusalem; one, a steep footpath from the summit of Mount Olivet; another, by a long circuit over its northern shoulder, down the valley which parts it from Scopus; the third, the natural continuation of the road by which mounted travelers always approach the city from Jericho, over the southern shoulder, between the summit which contains the Tombs of the Prophets and that called the 'Mount of Offence.' There can be no doubt that this last is the road of the Entry of Christ, not only because, as just stated, it is and must always have been the usual approach for horsemen and for large caravans, such as then were concerned, but also because this is the only one of the three approaches which meets the requirements of the narrative which follows.

Two vast streams of people met on that day. The one poured out from the city (John 12:12); and as they came through the gardens [Dr. Stanley here would read, ek (G1537) toon (G3588) agroon (G68), with Tischendorf and Tregelles-but not Lachmann-instead of dendroon (G1186), of the Received Text], whose clusters of palm rose on the southeastern corner of Olivet, they cut down the long branches, as was their wont at the Feast of Tabernacles, and moved upwards toward Bethany, with loud shouts of welcome. From Bethany streamed forth the crowds who had assembled there on the previous night, and who came testifying (John 12:17) to the great event at the sepulchre of Lazarus. The road soon loses sight of Bethany. It is now a rough, but still broad and well-defined mountain track, winding over rock and loose stones; a steep declivity below on the left; the sloping shoulder of Olivet above it on the right; fig-trees below and above, here and there growing out of the rocky soil.

Along the road the multitudes threw down the branches which they cut as they went along, or spread out a rude matting formed of the palm-branches they had already cut as they came out. The larger portion-those, perhaps, who escorted Him from Bethany-unwrapped their loose cloaks from their shoulders, and stretched them along the rough path, to form a momentary carpet as He approached. (Matthew 21:8; Mark 11:8.) The two streams met midway. Half of the vast mass, turning round, preceded; the other half followed (Mark 11:9). Gradually the long procession swept up and over the ridge, where first begins "the descent of the Mount of Olives" toward Jerusalem. At this point the first view is caught of the southeastern corner of the city. The Temple and the more northern portions are hid by the slope of Olivet on the right; what is seen is only Mount Zion, now for the most part a rough field, crowned with the Mosque of David and the angle of the western walls, but then covered with houses to its base, surmounted by the Castle of Herod, on the supposed site of the palace of David, from which that portion of Jerusalem emphatically the "city of David" derived its name.

It was at this precise point, "As He drew near, at the descent of the mount of Olives" - that is, at the point where the road over the mount begins to descend (may it have been from the sight thus opening upon them?) - that the shout of triumph burst forth from the multitude, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the kingdom that cometh of our father David. Hosanna ... peace ... glory in the higher." There was a pause as the shout rang through the long defile; and, as the Pharisees who stood by in the crowd (Luke 19:39) complained, He pointed to the stones which, strewn beneath their feet, would immediately cry out, if "these were to hold their peace." Again the procession advanced. The road descends a slight declivity, and the glimpse of the city is again withdrawn behind the intervening ridge of Olivet. A few moments, and the path mounts again, it climbs a rugged ascent, it reaches a ledge of smooth rock, and in an instant the whole city bursts into view.

As now the dome of the Mosque El-Aksa rises like a ghost from the earth before the traveler stands on the ledge, so then must have risen the Temple tower; as now the vast enclosure of the Mussulman sanctuary, so then must have spread the Temple courts; as now the gray town on its broken hills, so then the magnificent city, with its background-long since vanished away-of gardens and suburbs on the western plateau behind. Immediately below was the Valley of the Kedron, here seen in its greatest depth as it joins the Valley of Hinnom, and thus giving full effect to the great peculiarity of Jerusalem, seen only on its eastern side-its situation as of a city rising out of a deep abyss. It is hardly possible to doubt that this rise and turn of the road-this rocky ledge-was the exact point where the multitude paused again, and "He, when He beheld the city, wept over it."' ("Sinai and Palestine," chapter 3:)


(1) Often as we have had occasion to observe how unlike the Gospel History is, in almost everything, to an (1) Often as we have had occasion to observe how unlike the Gospel History is, in almost everything, to an invented Story, it is impossible not to be struck with it in the present section. That our Lord should at some time or other be made to enter Jerusalem in triumph, would be no surprising invention, considering the claim to be King of the Jews which the whole Narrative makes for Him. But that He should enter it on a donkey, and that an unbroken foal attended by its dam; that it should be found by the two who were sent for it precisely "by the door without, in a place where two ways met," and that they should be allowed to carry it away on simply telling the owners that "the Lord had need of it;" that notwithstanding this feeblest of all assumptions of royal state, the small following should grow to the proportions of a vast state-procession, covering His path with their garments as He drew near to the city; and that, aided by the flying reports of Lazarus' resurrection, the multitude should get into such enthusiasm as to hail Him, in terms the most august and sacred which the Jewish Scriptures could furnish, as the long-promised and expected Messiah; that instead of being elated with this, He should at the sight of the city and in the midst of the popular acclamations, dissolve into tears, and that not so much at the prospect of His own approaching sufferings, as at the blindness of the nation to its own true interests; and yet, on the other hand should feel those acclamations so grateful and befitting, as to tell those irritated ecclesiastics who found fault with them that they behoved to be uttered, and if withheld by human lips, the predicted welcome of Jerusalem to its King would be wrung out of the very stones; that the whole of this should be a mystery to the Twelve, at the time of its occurrence, and that not until the resurrection and glorification of Jesus, when the Spirit shed down at Pentecost lighted up all these events, did they comprehend their significance and behold the Grand Unity of this matchless life; that after He had reached Jerusalem, and was among the temple-buildings, the echoes of the popular acclaim to Him should be caught up by the children in so marked and emphatic a style as to deepen the ecclesiastic hate, and call forth a demand to Him to stop it, which only rebounded upon themselves by the glorious Scriptural vindication of it which He gave them: these are circumstances so very different from anything which could be supposed to be an invention, especially when taken together, that no unsophisticated mind can believe it possible.

And as the first three narratives can be shown to be independent productions, and yet each-while agreeing in the main with all the rest-varies in minute and important details from the others, and only out of all Four can the full account of the whole transaction be obtained, have we not in this the most convincing evidence of the historic reality of what we read? No wonder that myriads of readers and hearers of these wondrous Narratives over all Christendom-of the educated classes as well as the common people-drink them in as indubitable and living History, without the need of any laboured arguments to prove them true!

(2) The blended meekness and majesty of this last entry into Jerusalem is but one of a series of contrasts, studding this matchless History, and attracting the wonder of every devout and intelligent reader. What, indeed, is this whole History but a continued meeting of Lord and Servant, of riches and poverty, of strength and weakness, of glory and shame, of life and death? The early fathers of the Church delighted to trace these stupendous contrasts in the life of Christ, arising out of the two natures in His mysterious Person-in the one of which He was to humble Himself to the uttermost, while the glory of the other could never be kept from breaking through it. Infested as those early Fathers of the Church were with all manner of heresies on this subject, these facts of the Gospel History formed at once the rich nourishment of their own souls, and the ready armoury whence they drew the weapons of their warfare in defense and illustration of the truth.

Hear, for example, how the eloquent Greek, Gregory of Nazianzum (born 300 AD-died, 390 AD), regales himself and his audience in one of his discourses, kindling at the assaults to which the Person of his Lord was subjected: 'He was wrapt, indeed, in swaddling clothes; but rising, He burst the wrappings of the tomb. He lay, it is true, in a manger; but He was glorified by angels, and pointed out by a star, and worshipped by Magi. Why do you stumble at the visible [in Him], not regarding the invisible? He had no form nor comeliness to the Jews; but to David He was fairer than the children of men yea, He glisters on the Mount, with a light above the brightness of the sun, foreshadowing the glory to come. He was baptized, indeed, as man, but He washed away sins as God; not that He needed purification, but that He might sanctify the waters. He was tempted as man, but He overcame as God; nay, He bids us be of good cheer, because He hath overcome the world.

He hungered, but He fed thousands; yea, He is Himself the living and Heavenly Bread. He thirsted, but He cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink; nay, He promised that those who believe in Him should themselves gush like a well. He was weary, but He is Himself the Rest of the weary and heavy-laden. He was overpowered with sleep; but He is upborne upon the sea, but He rebukes the winds, but He upbears sinking Peter. He pays tribute, but out of a fish; but He is the Prince of dependents. He is saluted "Samaritan," and "Demoniac," but He saves him that went down from Jerusalem and fell among thieves; nay, devils own Him, devils flee before Him, legions of spirits He whelms in the deep, and sees the prince of the devils falling as lightning. He is stoned, but not laid hold of; He prays, but He hears prayer. He weeps, but He puts an end to weeping. He inquires where Lazarus is laid, because He was man, but He raises Lazarus, because He was diety. He is sold, and at a contemptible rate, even thirty pieces of silver; but He ransoms the world, and at a great price, even His own blood." After carrying these contrasts down to the Judgment, the eloquent preacher apologizes for the artificial style in which he had indulged, to meet the arts of the adversaries (Orat. xxxv).

(3) Often as we have had occasion to notice the mysterious light and shade which marked the emotions of the Redeemer's soul (as in Matthew 11:16-30), nowhere are these more vividly revealed than in the present section. The acclamations of the multitude as He approached Jerusalem were indeed shallow enough, and He was not deceived by them. He had taken their measure, and knew their exact value. But they were the truth, and the truth uttered for the first time by a multitude of voices. "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord? Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest!" His soul, from its inmost depths, echoed to the sound. It was to Him as the sound of many waters. When the Pharisees, therefore, bade Him rebuke it-for it was as wormwood to them-He rose to a sublime pitch at the very thought, and, in words which revealed the intense complacency with which He drank in the vast acclaim, "He answered and said unto them, I tell you that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out!" Yet, scarcely has this utterance died away from His lips, when, on the City coming into view, He is in tears! What emotions they were which drew the water from those eyes, we shall do better to try to conceive than attempt to express. We do desire to look into them; yet, on such a subject, at least, we say with the poet --

`But peace-still voice and closed eye Suit best with hearts beyond the sky.'

Our object in here again alluding to it, is merely to note the impressive fact, that this deep shade came over the Redeemer's spirit almost immediately after the light with which the acclamations of the multitude seemed to irradiate His soul.

(4) If Christ thus felt on earth the willful blindness of men to the things that belong to their peace, shall He feel it less in heaven? The tears doubtless are not there; but can that which wrung them from His eyes be absent? The mental pain which the spectacle occasioned Him on earth is certainly a stranger to His bosom now; but I, for one, shall never believe that there is nothing at all there which a benevolent heart would feel on earth to see men rushing willfully on their own destruction. Is it said of the Father, that He "spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all"? (see the note at Romans 8:32). And what is immediately to our point, Does God Himself protest to us, "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live"? (Ezekiel 33:11). In a word, Is there "joy in the presence," indeed, but not exclusively on the part, "of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth" - the joy properly of the Shepherd Himself over His recovered sheep, of the Owner Himself over His found property, of the Father Himself over His prodigal son forever restored to Him? (see the note at Luke 15:1-32) - and can it be doubted that in the bosom of Him who descended to ransom and went up to gather lost souls, as He watches from His seat in the heavens the treatment which His Gospel receives on earth, while the cordial acceptance of it awakens His deepest joy, the willful rejection of it, the whole consequences of which He only knows, must go to His heart with equal acuteness-though beyond that we may not describe it? And who that reads this can fail to see in it an argument of unspeakable force for immediate flight to Jesus on the part of all who until now have held out? You take such matters easy, perhaps; but Christ did not-nor will you one day.

(5) What a beautiful light does Christ's complacency in the Hosannas of the children throw upon His delight in drawing the young to Him! And what Christian parent will not deem himself, or herself, honoured with a rare honour whose children's voices, trained by them to sing Hosannas to the Son of David, send up into the soul of the now glorified Redeemer a wave of delight? See the notes at Luke 18:15-17, with the Remarks at the close of that section.

That there was but one cleansing of the temple-either that recorded in the Fourth Gospel, at His first visit to Jerusalem and His first Passover, or that recorded in the other three Gospels, at His last visit to it at the time of the Passover-some critics have endeavoured to make out; but all they have to allege for this is the supposed improbability of two such similar and unusual occurrences, and the fact that while each of the Evangelists records one cleansing, none of them records two. The Evangelists do indeed differ from each other considerably as to the order in which they place certain events; but if a cleansing of the temple occurred at the outset of our Lord's ministry-as recorded by John, who ought certainly to know the fact-and if it was never afterward repeated, it cannot be believed that all the other Evangelists, whose Gospels may be shown to have been written independently of each other, should agree in transferring it to the very close of His ministry.

Accordingly, most, if not all the Fathers recognized two cleansings of the temple-the one at the outset, the other at the close of our Lord's public life: and with them agree nearly all the best modern critics, Calvin, Grotius, Lampe, Tholuck, Olshausen, Ebrard, Meyer, Stier, Alford; compared with whom, those who regard both as one, though acute and learned critics, are, on a question of this nature, of inferior weight, Wetstein, Pearce, Priestley, Neander, DeWette, Lucke. Lange once took the latter view, but now contends decidedly for the double cleansing. That our Lord should put forth His authority in this remarkable way at His first visit to the city and temple, and so command attention to His claims from the highest authorities at the very outset, was altogether natural and appropriate. And that He should reassert it when He came to the city and temple for the last time, when the echoes of the popular acclaim to Him as the Son of David had scarce died away, but were about to be followed by cries of a very different nature, and His life was to pay the penalty of those claims-that in these circumstances He should vindicate them once more was surely in the highest degree natural. Nor are there wanting in the narratives of the two cleansings, evidences of a progress in the state of things from the time of the first to that of the last, which corroborates the fact of the deed being repeated. (See the notes at John 2:13-22, Remark 1, at the close of that section.)

Verse 45

And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought;

And he went into the temple, and began (or proceeded) to cast out - but no mention is here made of the "whip of small cords" with which this was done the first time (John 2:15). It is simply said now, He cast out "them that sold therein, and them that bought" - "and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple" - that is, the temple-court. 'There was always,' says Lightfoot, 'a constant market in the temple, in that place which was called "The Shops," where every day was sold wine, salt, oil, and other requisites to sacrifices; as also oxen and sheep, in the spacious court of the Gentiles.' The "money-changers" were those who, for the convenience the people, converted the current Greek and Roman money into Jewish coins, in which all temple dues had to be paid.

The "doves" being required for sacrifice, as well as young pigeons on several prescribed occasions, could not conveniently be brought from great distances at the annual festivals, and so were naturally provided for them by dealers, as a matter of merchandise (see Deuteronomy 14:24-26). Thus the whole of these transactions were, in themselves, not only harmless, but nearly indispensable. The one thing about them which kindled the indignation of the Lord of the Temple, now traversing its sacred precincts in the flesh, was the place where they were carried on-the profanation involved in such things being done within an enclosure sacred to the worship and service of God-and the effect of this in destroying in the minds of the worshippers the sanctity that should attach to everything on which that worship cast its shadow. On His "not suffering any man to carry a vessel through the temple," Lightfoot has a striking extract from one of the rabbinical writings, in answer to the question, What is the reverence due to the temple? The reply is, That none go through the court of it with his staff and shoes and purse, and dust upon his feet, and that none make it a common thoroughfare, or let any of his spittle fall upon it.

Verse 46

Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Saying unto them, It is written (Isaiah 56:7 ), My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves, [ speelaion (G4693) leestoon (G3027)] - rather, 'of robbers;' of men banded together for plunder, reckless of principle. So in Matthew and Mark. This also is a quotation, but from Jeremiah (Jeremiah 7:11) - "Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the Lord." Our Lord uses the very words of the Septuagint [ speelaion (G4693) leestoon (G3027)]. The milder charge, made on the former occasion - "Ye have made it a house of merchandise" - was now unsuitable. Nor was the authority of the prophet expressly referred to on that occasion, so far at least as recorded, though it was certainly implied in the language of the rebuke. The second Gospel is more exact and full in the quotation from the prophet: "And He taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer?" (Mark 11:17). The translation should be, as in the margin, 'for all nations' [ pasi (G3956) tois (G3588) ethnesin (G1484)], and as in the prophet "for all people," or rather, 'all the nations' [ lªkaal (H3605) haa`amiym (H5971)]. The glimpse here given of the extension of the Church to "every people and tongue and nation," and consequently beyond the ancient economy-which is the burden of the original passage-was not the immediate point for which our Lord referred to it, but the character of the house as God's - "My house" - and "a house of prayer." And it was the desecration of it in this light that our Lord so sternly rebuked.

Verse 47

And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him,

And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought, [ ezeetoun (G2212 ), or 'kept seeking;' that is, from day to day], to destroy him,

Verse 48

And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.

And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him, [ exekremato (G1582) autou (G846) akouoon (G191)] - or 'hung upon His lips.'

For Remarks on this section, see those on John 2:13-25, at the close of that section.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 19". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.