We are accustomed to refer to this as the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem (verses 1-10); but if we endeavor to picture to ourselves what the scene really was, we shall immediately see how little there was about it which – according to man’s notions of glory and honor – could be called triumphant. When the Maker of the world – the King of kings and Lord of lords – is seen approaching the city of Jerusalem, we find Him riding on a donkey’s colt, with some of His disciples’ garments cast upon its back. How unlike this is to the scenes of splendor which kings and conquerors of the world delight in! They glory in their magnificent pomp and ceremony, which are often purchased at the expense of torrents of blood, and the loss of their own immortal souls!
Happy shall we be on that Great Last Day, if we have now learned to cry, “Hosanna; blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!” The meaning of the word Hosanna is “save us now.” And those who use the word with its proper meaning are acknowledging Jesus as their Savior and their All. It will be quite too late to call Him Savior for the first time when the Judgment Day has come. But if we now learn to value Him and all His messengers who proclaim the blessed truths of His Gospel, and who carefully labor to fulfil His will in every thought and word and deed; then we may certainly look forward with the confident hope that we shall be permitted to join that happy throng of saints and angels, who will praise and magnify His glorious name on that wonderful Day!
Our Lord went out to the nearby village of Bethany to spend the night; but in the morning, as He was returning to Jerusalem (verses 11-20), He saw a fig tree covered with leaves – upon which He expected to find fruit, because the time for harvesting the figs had not yet come. But since He did not find the fruit which He had a right to expect, the tree was doomed to destruction. Now, in all of this, there was a deep meaning. It was a very significant action, by which our Lord intended to convey an awful lesson to every unprofitable professor of religion – especially the Jewish nation of His day. When He ministered on this earth, the majority of the Jews could very well have been compared to a tree bearing plenty of leaves; for they were making a great profession of religion. But what was their fruit? Where was the holy obedience to God’s laws, which He had a right to expect from His own chosen people? Alas! They paid no attention to the will of God; and this was especially pointed out, after Jesus had re-entered Jerusalem, in regard to the Temple-service. God had said, “My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer”; but these people had turned it into “a den of thieves” – for not only were dishonest business dealings being carried out there; but also, God was being robbed of His honor. And because the Lord does not immediately take vengeance upon those who thus rob Him of His glory, they deceive themselves by imagining that He never will. They do not consider the fact that He graciously allows them time for repentance. But if no repentance follows – then that same curse will rest upon them, by which the fruitless fig tree was dried up from the roots.
Peter was astonished at the miraculous power of Christ, when he observed that the fig tree upon which He had pronounced the curse had withered away (verses 21-24). But our Lord assured him and the other disciples that the power of God – if they sought for it properly – would enable them to do things quite as wonderful as this, and even more so. Although the time of Apostolic wonders has passed away, the same rule still remains for us to act upon – namely, that we should ask for what we feel that we need, with faith in the power and willingness of God to give it. Let us come boldly before the throne of grace, as we are invited to do in the full assurance of faith!
In verses 25 and 26, we learn a lesson concerning what is necessary if we wish to be delivered from the power and punishment of sin. We must forgive in the same manner as we hope to be forgiven; for without this, it would be presumption – and not faith – to expect that our prayers for pardon of sin should be answered. How can we honestly pray that God may forgive our many great sins, unless we are willing to forgive the comparatively small offences of our fellow human beings? But to give ourselves a forgiving disposition is something that we cannot do in our own strength. However, if we confess our merciless spirit as a sin, and beseech the Lord for grace, we shall obtain pardon for the past, as well as help to do better in time to come.
If the priests and scribes in verses 27-33 had really wished to be convinced that Christ’s mission was from God, He would have satisfied them; but on the contrary, He Who knew their hearts saw that there was only a determination in them to dispute His authority. And therefore, by His answer, He made them condemn themselves. They did not dare to dispute the fact that John the Baptizer was a prophet, who was indeed sent from God; and yet they knew that they had willfully refused to listen to and obey him. And they also knew that if they attempted to say that John’s baptism was nothing more than a mere human ordinance, it would make the people angry. So we see that it was not a lack of evidence which led these scribes to dispute the authority of Christ; rather, it was a purposeful unwillingness to listen to the things that were taught them. May we never be like them!
Thank You, Jesus for Your gracious invitation to us, to come boldly before Your throne of grace in the full assurance of faith! Amen.
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