JesusonaDonkeyLuke 19 Part 3

28. When He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

Now the Lord Jesus leaves Zacchaeus’s house, if indeed He had not done this already, and continues on His way to Jerusalem. This is described as “going up” because the road from Jericho to Jerusalem ascended. For us today with our automobile-centered society, we might think of “up” as “north,” but this was not the case in a culture that traveled with their feet.

29. And it came to pass, when He came near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples,

The Lord is now drawing close to Jerusalem, and on the road He draws near to the neighboring towns of Bethphage and Bethany. These were two extremely small towns on the road between Jericho and Jerusalem. Bethphage means “House of Unripe Figs,” whereas Bethany means either “House of Dates” or “House of Misery.” In Bethany lived the Lord’s close friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. He apparently stopped here a while on His way to Jerusalem in order to raise Lazarus from the dead, as we read in John 11. However, the gospel of Luke makes no mention of this event.

Now we read that by “near” Bethphage and Bethany the narrator means that He was at the Mount of Olives. Olivet seems to be an alternate spelling of Olives, used here, in Luke 21:37, and in Acts 1:12 (although Strong’s Concordance only lists it in the Acts passage.) Therefore this alternate seems to be a favorite of Luke’s in the New Testament, and is not used elsewhere by any other author.

Now from this place the Lord sends forth two of His disciples. Which two we are not told. The word “sent” here is a form of the Greek word apostello, and means that He “apostled” or sent them with His authority to perform some action on His behalf. What that was we will read in the next verse.

Notice that in this record He is near to Bethphage and Bethany, whereas in Matthew 21:1 He was already there. He sends two disciples in both this account and the one in Matthew, but the differences in the two accounts have only begun with this verse.

30. Saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here.

Here is the reason the Lord is sending these two disciples. He gives them specific orders to untie one colt that they will find in the village opposite them. They are to bring this colt to Him.

In this passage, He tells them this colt is one, “on which no one has ever sat.” This contrasts greatly with Matthew 21:2, where they were to untie a donkey and a colt, and where no mention of whether or not they had yet been ridden is made. Is this then a contradiction in Scripture that will be the downfall of our belief in inspiration and the proof that the gospels contradict?

Let it never be! No, this is another case of a time where two very similar events took place twice. Popular events like this often do. Our Fourth of July celebration of the birth of the United States as a nation is one example. Fireworks are traditionally shot off on this day, but some places shoot off their fireworks on different days than the actual holiday. I’ve heard of places that tend to shoot off fireworks a day early (on the 3rd), and others a day later (on the 5th), and still others on the Saturday nearest the holiday. This way anyone who is really into fireworks could conceivably see them many times over the same holiday if they were willing to travel far enough. People love exciting events, and often are not satisfied with just one, seeking to relive the experience again. So can we say that it is impossible that, having cheered and applauded the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem on one day, the people would wish to do the same on the next? Of course not! These people were fired up, and were just as ready to celebrate His entrance the second day as they were the first. This record gives us the second of these two events, as does the record in Mark. In Matthew, however, the first great entry is recorded. Thus the differences, and thus our supposed “contradiction.” In my article on “Contradictions in Scripture: The Triumphal Entry,” I further discuss the fact that the Lord seems to have entered Jerusalem twice in the triumphal manner mentioned in Scripture. See that article for a further discussion of this.

31. “And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’”

The Lord anticipates that some might ask why they were doing this. It would seem rather odd to see some strangers coming up and untying someone else’s colt. Some bystander might well wonder if they are thieves, and question as to why they are taking it. The Lord assures them that all they need to do if this happens is to say that the Lord has need of it.

32. So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them.

We could suppose this to be some kind of great miracle. Of course, the Lord could have used His Divine knowledge to know that this colt would be there. However, this does not necessarily need to be a miracle. Often men who are friends will have agreements with each other over certain possessions of theirs, that “any time you need this you can borrow it.” In our day, it might be that some traveling preacher might occasionally have need for a car, and so a friend of his in a certain place tells him, “any time you need a car and are in the area, feel free to use mine.” This kind of arrangement would not be at all unusual.

It is likely that the Lord knew the owner of this colt, and had already been assured that “any time you need to borrow anything of mine, you need only ask.” The Lord was no doubt acting according to such a prior agreement here. Of course, that the exact conditions the Lord described were there could have been Divine knowledge. Yet it could have been something the Lord simply knew from having been there before and seen these conditions many times. Perhaps this was where this colt always was tied, and so He needed no Divine knowledge to know that it would be there on this day. We cannot rule out that it was probably a little of both Divine knowledge and simply knowing the situation.

33. But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?”

As they are loosing the colt, the owners question them about it. We could compare this to you having parked your car somewhere, and then seeing someone fumbling around and trying to start it. We expect when we park a car that others will leave it alone. Anyone we see taking it for themselves we would suspect of stealing. So these men question the actions of the disciples here in loosing the colt.

34. And they said, “The Lord has need of him.”

The disciples merely repeat the words the Lord gave them to say, and the owners allow them to take the colt. It could be that as the owners approach them, they recognize them as disciples of the Lord. Knowing who they are and respecting the Lord themselves, they immediately authorize them to take the animal. It is good when we have an attitude like they did, that whatever of ours the Lord asks of us, we are willing to give at a moment’s notice.

So in this instance the eventuality the Lord prepared them for actually took place, and they obeyed His instructions faithfully. We have no such record in Matthew that anyone did question them about taking the donkey and the colt, nor need we be surprised. The Lord gave them these instructions “if” anyone should ask them. The first time no one did, but the second time they were questioned. The first time both the donkey and the colt were available, but the second time only the colt. This is easy to see if one will admit to it. However, if one really WANTS to see contradictions in Scripture, one can certainly force them in here. But this is no proof of any such thing, but only the wishful thinking of those who want to discredit the Bible.

35. Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him.

The Lord was coming to Jerusalem as a king being welcomed by His subjects. As a rule when kings came, they would ride on a magnificent animal such as a white horse, an elephant, or even a splendid camel. Yet the Lord did not come on such as these, but rather upon the humble beast of burden that was this colt. He was a different kind of king altogether from the kings of this world.

The disciples prepare this colt by throwing their own clothes upon it. This, of course, was a sign of respect to their Master. When kings came, the animal upon which they rode would be finely decorated with the most impressive of ornaments. Here the disciples decorate this beast in the best they could, with the very clothes upon their backs. A humble sign of respect, yet fitting for the type of king the Lord was in coming among them.

36. And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.

When a king would come, his path would traditionally be spread with carpeting so that even the feet of his steed would not touch the ground as he rode. The people of Israel were a poor people, and had no such rich carpets to spread before their King. Therefore they did the best they could, and spread their outer garments on the road before Him. They believed that the Lord Jesus was their King, as indeed He was, and so they were right to do this. Their actions to honor Him, though crude and far less than what was traditionally done, were nevertheless done with enthusiastic and honest hearts, and so were very acceptable in His sight.

The wholehearted and loving actions of these people are often called into question by the teachers of today. They accuse the ones who so lovingly welcomed the Lord at this time of turning around and denying Him days later at His trial before Pilate. This is a ridiculous and vicious slander against these honest people. Jerusalem was a large and populous city, and never more so than during the time of Passover. Though this was a great crowd, there is no reason to believe that every person in Israel was involved in this. The crowd that denied the Lord before Pilate was instigated to do this, and so was no doubt filled with agents of the Pharisees. More than likely, many of that crowd were followers of the false Messiah Barabbas, and were there to seek his release. As such, they would not have been part of this enthusiastic crowd of followers who were here to accept the Lord as their king. We should not be guilty of perpetuating the traditional anti-Israelite views of the churches. Let us stop once and for all our slander and libel of the people who welcomed their Lord with open arms. These were not the same people who rejected the Lord just days later. That is a hate-filled lie of those who are prejudiced against God’s people, and no doubt originates in the greatest of all liars who hates God’s people with a passion surpassed only by his hatred for their God.

37. Then, as He was now drawing near 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 they had seen,

He is continuing on His approach to Jerusalem and draws near to the descent of the Mount of Olives. At this point, the whole multitude of His disciples begins to rejoice and to praise God for the wondrous thing that was happening. Their King and Savior was coming to them at last! Notice that they praised Him because of all the mighty works they had seen. Not the least among these was the raising of Lazarus, which had taken place just days before, as we can read of it in John 11. Who says that miracles never produce faith? This passage denies any such idea.

The Companion Bible points out that this descent of the Mount of Olives actually provides the second view of Jerusalem on this route, the road having gone down a dip and up a rise again before coming to it. It is at this second view of the city that these people speak up and start to praise.

38. Saying: “’Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

In their praising they quote from Psalm 118:26. By doing this, they express their belief that Jesus Christ is the King Who comes in the name of Jehovah. Then they praise Him with peace in heaven and glory in the highest. By this they express their longing and desire for peace with God, for He is here represented by the place where He dwells. Their expectation was that this King would bring them such peace with their God. In this, they were not wrong, and would not be disappointed. For not long after this, such peace would be proclaimed in the name of Jesus Christ, even as we read of it in the book of Acts.

What great praise this was, and fitting too! How wonderful it is for us as well to praise our God. Let us thank Him for music and song and fellow believers and all the other things that aid us in lifting up our praises to Him. How great it would have been to have been in this multitude and seen this great outpouring of adoration to the Lord! It makes me long for the day when all on earth will together praise the King of kings and Lord of lords.

39. And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”

Not all in the crowd are participating in this. There were Pharisees present in the crowd as well. They are appalled by the words of the people, and exhort the Lord to stop them from making such proclamations. They do not believe the Lord to be the King Who will do these things, and they do not want anyone else to believe it either. Thus, they view these words as inappropriate, and call upon Christ to stop them from proclaiming them.

We would note in this passage that the Pharisees know well Who the Lord is and what is going on. In Matthew 21:10-11, the first of the entries, there was confusion, many of the people not knowing Who the Lord Jesus was or what was going on. Now all know, however, as this is the second time this event has taken place.

40. But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

This event was decreed by God, and therefore had to take place. Nothing could stop it, certainly not these jealous Pharisees. Christ reveals to them that even if He did stop the people, the rocks would cry out! I believe that His statement was literal, and that nothing could have stopped this praise from being given to the Lord at this time. In the same way, when God has determined in the future that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, nothing will be able to stop that from coming about.

41. Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,

Israelites all had a love for Jerusalem that was implanted in them not only by their parents and their community, but also by God. Yet this love was also in the heart of God Himself. He had chosen this city, and He loved it. Thus, when the Lord saw this city which He loved and knew what was yet to come for it, He wept.

This is another occurrence of the Lord Jesus weeping, although it is not as well-known as the one at the raising of Lazarus in John 11. He wept both at the death of one He loved, and at the unbelief of the city He loved. Indeed, not only death but also stubbornness, hard-heartedness, and lack of faith are tragedies in His sight.

The word for “wept” here is the Greek word klaio, which means to wail. The word in John 11:35 is dakruo, which means to shed silent tears. Thus His tears over Lazarus were silent, but here, He wails aloud over the city He loves.

42. Saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.

The Lord laments the city, sorrowing for the fact that they did not know the things that made for their peace. Indeed, though they sought peace, the things that could have brought this to them were hidden from their eyes. This was so often true of Jerusalem. In the Old Testament, we can read how many times they turned from the Lord to idols, and did not realize that it was this sinful behavior that brought defeat before their enemies, occupation of their cities, and other such terrible woes upon them. This ignorance was just as true at that time when the Lord spoke these words. Jerusalem was in poverty and oppression, even at a time when submission and obedience to God would have brought them peace. Yet they still did not know what the things that brought them peace truly were!

Yet is it not the same with the country and the world we live in even today? We long for a lasting peace, yet we still do not know the things that make for such a peace. Yet some day God will reveal these things to all the nations and cities on earth. This will be when He brings His government to earth. What a great day that will be!

The Lord calls this Jerusalem’s day. Indeed, it was their day more than any other, for the King Who would reign over them and bring all God’s promises to pass for them was entering into their city as its King. Yet how little did the city realize the truth or the significance of what was happening! Especially the rulers of the city, those who had power in this world, had little desire to accept the claims of the One Who was entering triumphantly into the realm of their influence. Their day came, and they did not know it!

43. “For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side,

The Lord continues His lament over Jerusalem. He speaks of the time soon coming when the city would be destroyed. He describes the Roman armies surrounding the city and building their embankments against it on every side. He pictures them closing in around them and trapping them on every side so that no one could flee or get out.

44. “And level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Now the Lord describes the destruction the Romans under General Titus wrought upon the city. They leveled it to the ground, so much so that one stone of the city was not left still placed upon another. This did literally happen to this city in 70 AD, so that the story goes that Titus rode a chariot through the city, and it was so evenly leveled that he didn’t have to turn aside at all, but was able to ride straight through the city where the buildings and homes had once been. Along with the city, the Lord reveals, its children also would be leveled to the ground. Of course, this refers to their deaths.

What a sad prediction!  Yet we know it was true, and it took place some 40 years after Christ spoke these words, and probably eight or so years after Luke wrote them down. The destruction and devastation as recorded by history were as terrible as is described here. Yet the Lord tells them this was all because they did not know the time of their visitation.

What did the Lord mean by this? We know that many people in this city believed in Christ in the Acts period and became believers in and followers of Him. If these could have, they would have turned back the destruction that the Lord said would come upon the city. Yet the leaders and rulers of the city never did recognize the Lord and His claims, or acknowledge the day of their visitation. If they had accepted the Lord, they would have adopted His peaceful policies, and would have ceased their political machinations and schemes against their Roman overlords. However, they did not do this, and Rome at last became sick of their constant rebellions and so came to wipe the city out of existence.

Now some have erroneously assumed that this destruction of Jerusalem was the destruction of the land of Israel as well. Yet this is not true. Israel, though without their capital city, continued for many decades after this, only really coming to an end as a nation under a further destruction by Rome in the 130s AD. Even then, enough Jews remained in the land to form a revolt against their rulers as late as 613 AD. Yet the overthrow of Jerusalem was the beginning of the end, marking as it did the end of the God-given religion carried out in the temple. It is therefore the sad event that the Lord spoke of with tears in this passage.

45. Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it,

Upon arriving in Jerusalem, the Lord goes into the temple and begins to cleanse it from those who bought and sold in it. This was a very inappropriate thing to do in the temple, and was entirely contrary to the spirit of what the Lord wanted to be going on there. Yet the use of religion to make money is something that still goes on today, and has been common from that time to this. There are plenty even in our day who use the name of the Lord Jesus only as a scheme to make themselves wealthy!

Where the Lord went here was the temple courts, and not the central building that contained the holy place. It was in the courts of the temple that this inappropriate market had been set up. We must remember that the temple was actually a campus, with many buildings and courtyards. This was just one of them.

There is another interesting discrepancy here. This account appears to coincide perfectly with that in Mark 11:15-17, which seems to record the same event. However, from Mark we learn that Jesus did this cleansing after cursing the fig tree (Mark 11:12-14.) In Matthew 21:12-13, however, we see a similar casting out, but one that takes place BEFORE Jesus curses the fig tree in Matthew 21:19-22. Moreover, in Matthew we see Him following up this event by healing the blind and lame, whereas in Mark and Luke no such thing is mentioned. It seems then that Jesus cast them out first as recorded in Matthew, and then the next day, finding the sellers and moneychangers returned, cast them out again the same way. This seems quite likely and possible, and is no proof of any contradiction in Scripture.

Notice, however, that some people not only claim that this event and that in Matthew are the same, but also that the casting out in John 2:14-17 is the same event! These people are often the same as those who claim that John was written long after Christ’s life on earth and the other gospels, and therefore tended to less accuracy and more twisting of the details of Christ’s life to promote what is perceived as “second-century doctrine.” To these we would point out that if when John was written there was still a pool called Bethesda next to the Sheep Gate (John 5:2,) then the Roman destruction could not yet have taken place and the book could certainly not have been written in the second century. For we know that in the Roman devastation, not one stone was left on another, as we just read, and certainly there were no pools or gates left! But such accusations against the accuracy of the Word are not new, and are in fact the common fare of those who reject the Bible as truth.

46. Saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”

The Lord quotes two Scriptures in condemning these sellers. The first is Isaiah 56:7, declaring the temple as a house of prayer.

7. Even them I will bring to My holy mountain,
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
Will be accepted on My altar;
For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.

The second passage is Jeremiah 7:11, wherein He proclaims that the temple has become a den of thieves.

11. “Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the LORD.

Thus by these two Scriptures the Lord justifies His actions in clearing these merchants out of His house.

What these men were doing was selling animals for sacrifice. This would seem innocent enough, as many people coming to Jerusalem to worship would not have brought suitable animals with them on the journey. The problem is that the sellers in the temple knew they had the worshipers over a barrel and so were charging exorbitant prices. Moreover, the temple leaders had devised a law whereby no gift could be given to God using Roman money. Thus the worshippers had to exchange their currency for a special temple coinage, and in doing so they were always given an unfair exchange rate. This was the “thievery” that was going on, and what caused Christ to be so indignant.

47. And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him,

Having cleansed the temple, the Lord then taught in it. Having removed those who were defiling it, He now uses it for the purpose God had intended. Yet by doing this, He was teaching under the very nose of those corrupt religious leaders; the chief priests, scribes, and leaders of the people; who were in charge of the temple and had set up and allowed those corrupt practices in the first place. Their rule being defied and their money-making schemes shut down, these furious leaders seek some way to destroy Him.

48. And were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him.

Imagine Christ throwing the glove in the face of these men, so to speak, and then calmly going on to teach in the temple! He was the type of Person that very few religious leaders would want in their congregations, I think. Yet notice that these enraged leaders could do nothing against Him because the people were “very attentive to hear Him.” The leaders may have hated Him, but He was always loved by the common people! Thus they have no choice but to allow Him to continue His activities. For all their power, they could not deny the rightness of His actions. They were guilty, and He was justified.

Notice the sincerity of the people in hearing Him. They were very attentive, the New King James says. Otis Q. Sellers suggests that this is literally that they hung on Him, meaning that they hung on every word, as we would say in our figure of speech. They were very attentive, and there is nothing in their attitude that we can condemn. They truly accepted the Lord, Who had come to them. If only their leaders had the same attitude! Alas, they did not, and thus they would bring the destruction upon them that the Lord had predicted in the previous verses.