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reality; and yet, though uttered as prophecy by Christ, and its reason so clearly stated, Israel to this day knows not the things which belong unto its peace, and the upturned scattered stones of its dispersion are crying out in testimony against it. But to this day, also, do the tears of Christ plead with the Church on Israel's behalf, and His words bear within them precious seed of promise.
We turn once more to the scene just described. For, it was no common pageantry; and Christ's public Entry into Jerusalem seems so altogether different from—we had almost said, inconsistent withHis previous mode of appearance. Evidently, the time for the silence so long enjoined had passed, and that for public declaration had come. And such, indeed, this Entry was. From the moment of His sending forth the two disciples to His acceptance of the homage of the multitude, and His rebuke of the Pharisees' attempt to arrest it, all must be regarded as designed or approved by Him: not only a public assertion of His Messiahship, but a claim to its national acknowledgment. And yet, even so, it was not to be the Messiah
of Israel's conception, but He of prophetic picture: “just, and having Zech. ix. 9 salvation ; lowly, and riding upon an ass.'a It is foreign to our
present purpose to discuss any general questions about this prophecy, or even to vindicate its application to the Messiah. But, when we brush aside all the trafficking and bargaining over words, that constitutes so much of modern criticism, which in its care over the letter so often loses the spirit, there can, at least, be no question that this prophecy was intended to introduce, in contrast to earthly warfare and kingly triumph, another Kingdom, of which the just King would be the Prince of Peace, Who was meek and lowly in His Advent, Who would speak peace to the heathen, and Whose sway would yet extend to earth's utmost bounds. Thus much may be said, that if there ever was true picture of the MessiahKing and His Kingdom, it is this; and that, if ever Israel was to have a Messiah or the world a Saviour, He must be such as described in this prophecy-not merely in the letter, but in the spirit of it. And, as so often indicated, it was not the letter but the spirit of prophecy—and of all prophecy—which the ancient Synagogue, and
that rightly, saw fulfilled in the Messiah and His Kingdom. AcSanh. 98 a; cordingly, with singular unanimity, the Talmud and the ancient
Rabbinic authorities have applied this prophecy to the Christ. Nor was it quoted by St. Matthew and St. John in the stiffness and
deadness of the letter. On the contrary (as so often in Jewish Price.I. 9; writings), two prophecies—Isa. lxii. 11, and Zech. ix. 9—are made
to shed their blended light upon this Entry of Christ, as exhi
B) Ber. 56 6;
Midr. Sbewuel 14
EXPLANATION OF THE ACCLAMATIONS OF THE POPULACE.
biting the reality, of which the prophetic vision had been the reflex.
We have seen reason to regard the bearing of the disciples as one of surprise, and that, all through these last scenes, they seem to have been hurried from event to event. But the enthusiasm of the people—their royal welcome of Christ-how is it to be explained, and how reconciled with the speedy and terrible reaction of His Betrayal and Crucifixion? Yet it is not so difficult to understand it; and, if we only keep clear of unconscious exaggeration, we shall gain in truth and reasonableness what we lose in dramatic effect. It has already been suggested, that the multitude which went to meet Jesus must have consisted chiefly of pilgrim-strangers. The overwhelming majority of the citizens of Jerusalem were bitterly and determinately hostile to Christ. But we know that, even so, the Pharisees dreaded to take the final steps against Christ during the presence of these pilgrims at the Feast, apprehending a movement in His favour. It proved, indeed, other- est. Matt. wise ; for these country-people were but ill-informed; they dared St. Mark not resist the combined authority of their own Sanhedrin and of the Luke xxii. 2 Romans. Besides, the prejudices of the populace, and especially of an Eastern populace, are easily raised, and they readily sway from one extreme to the opposite. Lastly, the very suddenness and completeness of the blow, which the Jewish authorities delivered, would have stunned even those who had deeper knowledge, more cohesion, and greater independence than most of them who, on that Palm-Sunday, had gone forth from the City.
Again, as regards their welcome of Christ, deeply significant as it was, we must not attach to it deeper meaning than it possessed. Modern writers have mostly seen in it the demonstrations of the Feast of Tabernacles,' as if the homage of its services had been offered to
xiv, 2 ; St.
* This after Lightfoot. Wünsche (Er- with the Feast of the Tabernacles, or läat. d. Evang. p. 241) goes so far as that they purposely transferred to the to put this alternative, that either the Passover a ceremony of the Feast of Evangelists confounded the Passover Tabernacles !
в в 2
Christ. It would, indeed, have been symbolic of much about Israel
tion. It is true that these responses from Ps. cxviii., which formed * Pickiii. part of what was known as the (Egyptian) Hallel,a were chanted by
the people on the Feast of Tabernacles also, but the Hallel was equally sung with responses during the offering of the Passover, at the Paschal Supper, and on the Feasts of Pentecost and of the Dedication of the Temple. The waving of the palm-branches was the welcome of visitors or kings,' and not distinctive of the Feast of Tabernacles. At the latter, the worshippers carried, not simple palm-branches, but the Lulav, which consisted of palm, myrtle, and willow-branches intertwined. Lastly, the words of welcome from Ps. cxviii. were (as already stated) those with which on solemn occasions the people also greeted the arrival of festive pilgrims," although, as being offered to Christ alone, and as accompanied by such demonstrations, they may have implied that they hailed Him as the promised King, and have converted His Entry into a triumph in which the people did homage. And, if proof were required of the more sober, and, may we not add, rational view here advocated, it would be found in this, that not till after His Resurrection did even His own disciples understand the significance of the whole scene which they had witnessed, and in which they had borne such a part.
The anger and jealousy of the Pharisees understood it better, and watched for the opportunity of revenge. But, for the present, on that bright spring-day, the weak, excitable, fickle populace streamed before Him through the City-gates, through the narrow streets, up the Temple-mount. Everywhere the tramp of their feet, and the shout of their acclamations brought men, women, and children into the streets and on the housetops. The City was moved, and from mouth to mouth the question passed among the eager
crowd of curious onlookers : · Who is He?' And the multitude
1 Such were, and even now are, common demonstrations in the East to welcome a king, a conqueror, or a deliverer. For a large number of heathen and Jewish instances of the same kind, comp. Wetstein, ad loc. (i. pp. 460, 461).
? I am aware, that so great an authority as Professor Delitzsch calls this in question (Zeitschr. für Luther. Theol. for 1855, p. 653). But the testimony of the
Midrash is against him. Delitzsck re. gards it as the shout of the Feast of Tabernacles. But how should that hare been raised before the Feast of Passover ? Again, it does not seem reason: able to suppose, that the multitude had with full consciousness proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, and intended to celebrate there and then the fulfilment of the typical meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles.
CHRIST'S ENTRY INTO THE TEMPLE.
answered—not, this is Israel's Messiah-King, but: This is Jesus the Prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. And so up into the Temple !
He alone was silent and sad among this excited multitude, the marks of the tears He had wept over Jerusalem still on His cheek. It is not so, that an earthly King enters His City in triumph; not so, that the Messiah of Israel's expectancy would have gone into His Temple. He spake not, but only looked round about upon all things, as if to view the field on which He was to suffer and die. And now the shadows of evening were creeping up; and, weary and sad, He once more returned with the twelve disciples to the shelter and rest
THE SECOND DAY IN PASSION-WEEK-THE BARREN FIG-TREE—THE CLEANSING
OF THE TEMPLE-THE HOSANNA OF THE CHILDREN.
(St. Matt. xxi. 12–22 ; St. Mark xi. 15-26; St. Luke xix. 45–48.)
Luke vi. 12; ix. 28
How the King of Israel spent the night after the triumphal Entry into His City and Temple, we may venture reverently to infer. His
royal banquet would be fellowship with the disciples. We know how * St. Mark i. often His nights had been spent in lonely prayer, and surely it is Luke v. 16; not too bold to associate such thoughts with the first night in xiv. 23 ; St. Passion-week. Thus, also, we can most readily account for that
exhaustion and faintness of hunger, which next morning made Him seek fruit on the fig-tree on His way to the City.
It was very early on the morning of the second day in Passionweek (Monday), when Jesus, with His disciples, left Bethany. In the fresh, crisp, spring air, after the exhaustion of that night, 'He hungered.' By the roadside, as so often in the East, a solitary tree? grew in the rocky soil. It must have stood on an eminence, where it caught the sunshine and warmth, for He saw it afar off,' and though spring had but lately wooed nature into life, it stood out, with its wide-spreading mantle of green, against the sky. “It was not the season of figs, but the tree, covered with leaves, attracted His attention. It might have been, that they hid some of the fruit which hung through the winter, or else the springing fruits of the new crop. For it is a well-known fact, that in Palestine the fruit appears before the leaves,'3 and that this fig-tree, whether from its exposure or soil, was precocious, is evident from the fact that it was in leaf, which is quite unusual at that season on the Mount of Olives. The old fruit would, of course, have been edible, and in regard to the unripe fruit we have the distinct evidence of the
b St. Mark
lapwi, used of the last night-watch in
2 ιδών συκήν μίαν, a single tree.
On the fig.tree generally, see the remarks on the Parable of the Barren Fig-tree, Book IV. ch. xvi.