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“And when He had thus spoken, He went before, ascending up to Jerusalem. 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, 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. 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 they that were sent went their way, and found even as He had said unto them. And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? And they said, The Lord hath need of him. And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as He went, they spread their clothes in the way. 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; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto Him, Master, rebuke Thy disciples. And He answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, 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. 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, 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 He went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. 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 could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear Him”—Luke 19:28-48.
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We come now to the Lord’s last days on earth. Notice in the first part of this passage how careful He was to fulfil everything that was written of Him in the Prophets. In the book of Zechariah (9:9), it was written some five hundred years before, that the King would come riding upon the colt of an ass: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, 0 daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”
Nearing Jerusalem, Jesus came to Bethany which is over the slope of the mount of Olives. He said to His disciples, “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.” He was the omniscient One, and He knew exactly where the disciples would find the ass. He said to them, “And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.” This colt was only a dumb beast, but it knew its Owner. We read in Isaiah 1:3, “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider.” The lower creatures act in subjection to the will of the Lord. Man alone of all God’s creatures—man, who is made a little lower than the angels, with his remarkable powers and his wonderful intellect—sets himself in opposition to the will of God. Jesus sent His disciples over to get this colt, and we read that it was one “whereon yet never man sat.” It was an unbroken colt. You know that, ordinarily, it takes a rider of some dexterity to break in a colt; but here we find this unbroken colt in complete subjection to the will of its Creator. The One who was to ride that colt was the Creator whose power had brought it into existence. “And they that were sent went their way, and found even as He had said unto them. And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt?” They answered as they had been instructed by the Lord, and the owners gave consent to take him and use him as Jesus desired. “And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.” So He began His so-called “triumphal entry,” and the people hailed Him as their King as they led Him into the city. “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; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” Another scripture was fulfilled as the people were doing all this. Long years ago, in the 118th Psalm (ver. 26), it was written that the people should greet their King with the cry, “Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” And so His disciples and the little children who had heard of the promised King, shouted with joy as He entered His capital, for they thought He was immediately to set up His kingdom. They had to learn that there could be no kingdom for Him before the cross; that He must die for our sins before He could establish His throne in power and glory. So in the next verse of that 118th Psalm (ver. 27) we read, “Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.” He was to offer Himself a sacrifice on our behalf ere He could “take His great power and reign.”
The religious leaders of the people who professed to be waiting for the Messiah were out of sympathy with all this. They looked on with indignation and turned to the Lord Himself and said, “Master, rebuke Thy disciples.” They would have had Him repudiate the extravagant claims, as they considered them, which the disciples were making on His behalf. But Jesus, instead of rebuking them, rebuked the critics and said, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” Those who welcomed Him with cries of joy acted as the Scriptures predicted. It was foretold by God that they should receive Him in this way. If they had not done so the stones would have cried out to welcome the glorious King.
So He entered the city, but He did not find the populace ready to receive Him. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” “His own” in the original text is neuter. First it refers to “His own things.” In the second instance, it is personal and refers to “His own people.” “He came unto His own things, and His own people received Him not.” Here we behold Him coming to His own city, and His own temple, but His own people—the nation that had been waiting for Him for so long— received Him not. Knowing exactly what their attitude was to be, His great heart was breaking as He looked down over the city and realized all that Israel must suffer in the centuries to come as well as in the near future. He wept over the city. He saw, as no one ese could, all the sin and iniquity of which the people of Jerusalem were guilty. This is one of the three times when He is said to have wept. What a sad sight must any one of our great cities present to the all-seeing eyes of our Lord as He beholds them today! Beneath all the outward splendor of architecture, beautiful parks, schools, and great business houses, His holy eyes discern all the hidden sin, the selfishness, the unbridled lust, the vice and corruption, the hypocrisy and hardness of conscience which call as loudly for judgment now as the evils tolerated in Jerusalem cried to God for destruction so long ago. Jerusalem was the city Jehovah had chosen to place His name there; and and He was rejected. Its men and women preferred to go on in their own godless ways. As He wept over the city He exclaimed, “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.” “If thou hadst known!” But they did not know. That was the trouble with people then, and that is the trouble with people now: they do not know. There is a solemn pathos in His lament. They might have known, but there was no desire to understand, and so they had to suffer for their wilful ignorance. We read that Peter said to the people concerning the crucifixion of our Lord, “Through ignorance ye did it.” They did not understand, neither did the princes of this world, “For had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.” In the day of judgment we shall not be able to say, “I did not know who Jesus was.” We have the Word; we have heard it again and again. The people of Israel did not know, and because they did not know, they fulfilled their own Scriptures in rejecting their Messiah. “If thou hadst known!” It was too late! They had turned their hearts against Him; they had spurned His grace. And now their judgment was on its way. He said, “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.” He foresaw the Roman armies under Titus surrounding the city and cutting off all sources of provision for its trapped populace. Graphically He portrayed what became actual history forty years afterward. It was all fulfilled literally when the Roman legions besieged the city, and at last entered it and destroyed its great buildings as Jesus had predicted. “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.” Think of a statement like that! As the disciples looked upon that vast city with its great and wonderful buildings, and the Lord Jesus dared to say that not one stone should be left upon another! It must have seemed, even to His disciples, as though His words never could be fulfilled literally, yet in due time they were, carried out to the letter, for Jerusalem became but a ruined heap. Long before, God had declared, “Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps” (Micah 3:12). God’s Word never fails. All that He has declared must come to pass.
Notice the reason for all this: “Because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” God Himself had come to them in the Person of His Son, but they realized it not. Unsaved one, this is the time when God is visiting you, and if you refuse Him, some day you must stand before Him in judgment, because you knew not the day of your visitation.
“And He went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.” In that temple everything spoke of Him. He acted as Son over His own house (Heb. 3:6) in casting out those who sought to commercialize that which had been dedicated as a house of prayer for all nations. It was presumably for the accommodation of visitors from distant lands that the moneychangers and vendors of doves, and so on, were first given places in the temple courts, but through covetousness they made merchandise of these things and so dishonored God.
From that time He taught the people in that temple until the time came when He was to be offered upon the cross. But the leaders sought how they might destroy Him; but they could not find what they might do, for all the people were very attentive to hear Him. Doubtless many in the crowds that heard His words were brought to trust in Him eventually, and we may be sure that numbers of them were among that great throng on the day of Pentecost when many accepted Him as Saviour and owned Him as their Lord.