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and our Lord took occasion to remark, how dan-
gerous a possession is wealth, and how likely to
deter men from the reception of his gospel. They
would be slow to give up for its sake, their world-
ly enjoyments and luxuries.

On hearing this, Peter reminded his Master,
that he and his companions had given up every
thing for the sake of following him, and asked
what reward they were to have. Jesus answered
him in terms adapted to encourage and satisfy him
in the highest degree. He assured him, that those
who suffered loss and sacrifice for him and his
gospel, should receive abundant recompense even
in this world, — meaning, doubtless, in those solid
satisfactions and pleasures which attend the per-
formance of duty, — and in the world to come
everlasting life. In this connexion he recited the
parable of the laborers in the vineyard; and about
the same time, probably, delivered some other of
his recorded instructions.

Thus they proceeded towards Jerusalem ; and
" as they were in the way," says the Evangelist,
" Jesus went before them ; and they were amazed,
and as they followed they were sore afraid."
These words express the perplexity and apprehen-
sion of mind with which they looked forward to
the result of their journey. He again spoke to
them on the subject, endeavoring to explain to
them what it was that was to happen. But they


still understood none of these things. So far
indeed were they from any just idea of what he
meant, that James and John, at this very time,
came to him with their mother, to obtain from him
a promise that they should have the first offices
of honor in his kingdom; that they should sit, the
one at his right hand, and the other at his left.
Whether this request originated with these disci-
ples, or was wholly the suggestion of their mother
who was certainly very forward in it,, does not
appear. It is in either case wonderful, that, so
soon after the rebuke which had been given to
their ambitious projects, they should have been
so infatuated as to present this demand. The
other ten were not a little displeased; and their
Master took the opportunity to reprove once more,
and in the plainest terms, this love of superiority
and power; declaring, that however it might be
among the leading men of the world, greatness
among his followers was to be attained only by
services and toils; " even as the Son of man,"
he added, " came not to be ministered unto, but
to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
At length having arrived at the point in the
road where it crosses the Jordan, in order to go to
Jerusalem, he passed over. Jericho lies on the
road from the river, and must be traversed. This

Matt. XX. 17. Mark x. 32. Luke xviu. 31.


was an ancient and populous city, celebrated as
the first place taken by Joshua, when the armies
of Israel entered Canaan. It was situated in a
spacious plain, abounding in palm-trees, and was
often styled the City of Palms. In the time of
our Saviour, it was a place of considerable wealth
and splendor, having been adorned by Herod with
a palace and other public buildings, in the mag-
nificent spirit of that prince. As our Lord, with
his numerous attendants, approached this busy
and populous town, the rumor of his coming went
before him, and the citizens poured out from the
gates to meet him, — eager to behold the venerable
prophet of whom report had told such wonders.
One or two blind men, hearing the noise of the
multitude passing, asked what it meant; and be-
ing answered that it was Jesus of jSazareth, they
called out to him in earnest and confident faith as
the son of David, that is, the Messiah, to have
pity on them. Jesus did not refuse the title, and
restored them to sight, to the great admiration of
the crowds who witnessed the miracle.

Amongst those whom the fame of his coming
had brought out to the highway, was Zaccheus,
chief of the publicans, a man of distinction and
property. In his eagerness to catch a sight of the
distinguished stranger, he climbed into a sycamore

Luke xix. 1.


tree by the way side, and waited his arrival at the
spot. Jesus dre\y nigh; and, to the great amaze-
ment of Zaccheus, — who could not hope that so
despised a person as an unpopular publican would
be thought worthy the notice of a great prophet, —
looked up into the tree, and bade him hasten down,
for he intended to honor his house with his presence.
Thus did our Lord delight to show regard to the
unpretending; thus did he often verify his words,
that they who humble themselves shall be exalted.

As might have been expected, this distinction
given a man of odious profession, " a sinner " as
he was styled, gave offence to the people, and
they did not hesitate to express their displeasure.
But Zaccheus defended himself against the im-
putations they would cast on his character, and
Jesus boldly vindicated the cause he had taken.
He told the murmurers, that though they might
regard this man as a sinner, he looked upon him
as a Son of Abraham; he approved the disposi-
tions he had manifested; he proclaimed salvation
to his house; for, in truth, he added in the words
of his favorite expression, he had come to seek
and to save those that were lost, — not to join in
depressing and condemning them.

Jesus passed the day at the house of Zaccheus.
There was an evident expectation in the company
assembled with him there, that he was about to
assume the kingdom, and they thought his ap-


proach to Jerusalem a sign of it. This led him
to recite the parable of the ten pounds; in which
he represented to them the true character of his
kingdom, taught them how solemn would be the
responsibility of those who should enter it, in-
structed them in the use they should make of their
opportunities and advantages, and admonished
them of the fearful account to be rendered by the

He then left Jericho, and proceeded toward
Jerusalem, distant about twenty miles. On the
sixth day before the Passover, he reached Betha-
ny. As this was only two miles from Jerusalem,
a large part of the concourse of people who at-
tended him, probably went forward to the city,
and spread the report of his approach. Many of
the Jews, on hearing it, went out to see him; not
only on his own account, but for the sake of see-
ing at the same time Lazarus, whom he had rais-
ed from the grave. The chief priests, who had
already adopted measures for the apprehension of
Jesus, took it seriously into consideration whether
Lazarus also should not be put to death; because,
as long as he should live, he would be the means
of inducing many to believe in him who had re-
stored him to life.

John xii. 1.




Although it was yet six days before the Pass-
over, the people had already collected in great
numbers at Jerusalem. There were certain
legal defilements which required purification,
some of them for seven days, before the feast
could be partaken. This obliged many to resort
early to the city; and it is reasonable to suppose,
that, in many instances, they were accompanied
by their friends. Hence it is easy to see, that the
crowd must have been gathering for several days;
and St. John informs us, that as they met and
talked in the courts of the Temple, there was a
general inquiry for Jesus. "What think ye?"
said they, " will he not come to the feast.** "
They remembered how he had been treated at
his former visits to the city; how he had been
harassed and stoned; and how but four months
ago, at the feast of Dedication, he had been
obliged to fly for his life, before he had been there
a day. They knew, too, that there was a procla-
mation abroad against him, and that the chief

John xi. 55.


council had given commandment, that, if any
man knew where he was, he should inform of it,
that he might be seized. It was therefore a great
matter of inquiry among the people, whether he
would venture, at this obvious risk of his life, to
show himself at the feast. They did not know,
as he did, that his time was come, and he would
shun danger no longer.

It must have been with no little surprise, that
they heard on Saturday evening, the report of his
arrival at Bethany. On former occasions he had
come late and privately. But now he was among
the first to arrive, and was coming publicly. The
strong sentiment of grateful admiration prevailed;
and in spite of the decrees of the ruling powers,
there was a spontaneous movement in the multi-
tude to do honor to the benevolent prophet. The
next morning, therefore, they went out to meet
him, and conduct him into the city. All history
does not record a more genuine instance of en-
thusiastic public homage. It was the more strik-
ing in this case, because so transient.

Meantime Jesus had left Bethany; and as he
went toward Jerusalem he sent two of his disci-
ples into the village of Bethphage, which lay just
off the highway, with directions to bring to him
a young ass, which they should find tied with its

Matt. xxi. 1. Mark xi. 1. Luke xix. 29.
John xii, 12.


dam at the entrance of the village. It undoubt-
edly belonged to one of his friends and followers,
as the owner at once allowed it to be taken, on
being told, " the Lord hath need of him." Some
of the disciples placed their garments on the
beast, and Jesus sat upon him. This seemed to
the attending multitude a signal, that he was now
to assume the rank and title which they believed
to be his, and they set no limits to their expres-
sions of delight and transport. They took oif
their garments, and laid them in the path; they
cut dawn branches from the trees, and strewed
them in the way. They thus proceeded till they
were met, probably as they descended the mount
of Olives toward the city, by the people coming
from Jerusalem. They too were bearing branch-
es of palm-trees, and they fell in with the proces-
sion. And the whole multitude of the disciples
began to rejoice and to praise God for all the
mighty works which they had seen. And they
that went before, and they that followed, cried,
" Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he
that Cometh in the name of the Lord! Blessed
be the coming kingdom of our father David!
Hosanna in the highest! " Thus they went for-
ward to Jerusalem.

Little did the multitude know what was pass-
ing in the thoughts of him whom they were thus
honoring. Little did they understand how far he


was from sharing the feelings and purposes by
which they were impelled. In the midst of the
triumph, the central figure of the whole, to whom
all eyes and hearts turned, he was borne alone
passively, taking no part in the scene of which he
was chief part. There was nothing to him exhila-
rating in the shouts or the gladness of the people ;
there was nothing to him glorious in this princely
approach to the capital of the nation. He looked
far beyond it all. He saw the truth and knew
the future. And as the procession rolled on from
the mount of Olives and across the valley, he fix-
ed his eyes on the guilty city, and wept at the
ruin which was about to overtake it. " Oh, that
thou hadst known," he exclaimed, "even thou,
at least in this thy day, the things that belong to
thy peace! But now they are hidden from thine

As this remarkable assemblage drew near, it is
no wonder that, as Matthew expresses it, all the
city was moved, saying, " Who is this? " And
the people answered, " This is Jesus of Naza-
reth, the Prophet of Galilee." Thus they pro-
ceeded into the gate, and wound up the steep as-
cent, and conducted Jesus to the Temple.

The Pharisees and priests could ill bear this out-
break of popular enthusiasm. They said among
themselves, " Ye perceive how we prevail nothing;
the world is gone out after him." Some of them


went to Jesus on the road, and attempted to per-
suade him to put an end to the commotion. But
he rephed, "I tell you if these should hold their
peace, the stones would immediately cry out."
After he had arrived in the Temple, and the very
children, seeing his miracles and catching the
feelino; of the crowd, shouted " Hosanna to the
son of David," the priests and scribes could not
conceal their displeasure, and expressed it to him;
" Hearest thou what these say.^" "Yea," an-
swered he, " have ye never read, Out of the
mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfect-
ed praise.^ " Thus on all sides his malicious en-
emies were baffled. It was impossible for them,
at such a moment, to execute their purpose.

Another occurrence was adapted still further to
mortify them. Some Greeks, who, being probably
proselytes to the Jewish faith, had come up to the
festival, expressed to Philip a desire to be intro-
duced to Jesus. They entertained the common
expectations respecting the Messiah, and probably
hoped, by attaching themselves to him, to share
in the advantages of the kingdom, which, they
judged from the events of the morning, was about
being set up. Philip and Andrew made known
to Jesus their request. Whether he granted it,
and had an interview with the Greeks, is not said.
But their request excited in his mind a strong
image of the glory to which he was appointed,


and the sufferings through which he must reach
it. The hour is come, said he, that the Son of
man should be gioriiied. Not, however, by such
glory as these Greeks expect, and which they de-
sire to share. It is only through death that he is
to obtain it, as the grain must perish in the earth,
before it can bear fruit. And those who would
,share it, must be ready like him to give up life.

As he thus spoke, he became agitated with
she thoughts of dreadful suffering which rushed
upon his mind. The Evangelist has not conceal-
ed it, for he would have the disciples in all ao-es
know that their Master felt his own trials, and
could therefore sympathize with them in theirs.
He gave utterance to his feelings, " Now is my
soul troubled; — and what shall I say? Father,
save me from this hour! " It is uncertain whether
these last words are to be considered as actually
expressing a prayer, or whether they are simply
a question; — Shall I say, Father, save me from
this hour? In either case they strongly indicate
the trouble of his soul. It was but momentary.
He immediately checked it, and added, " But for
this cause came I to this hour. Father, glorify
thy name! " A voice from heaven immediately
replied, " I have both glorified it, and will glorify
it again." The bystanders were struck with sur-
prise. Some thought it the voice of an angel,
some said it only thundered. Jesus warned them
17 N


that it was a voice intended for them; that now
all unbelief was inexcusable, and judgment would
overtake those who should reject him. He was
about to triumph over the powers of the world,
and his very death should give him universal do-
minion. So naturally did his mind rise to mag-
nificent thoughts, even when the image of his
sufferings pressed upon him most heavily! But
the people, who were wedded to their old notions
and would not open their minds to any change,
asked him how he could talk of dying if he were
the Messiah; for they had been taught to believe,
that that person would abide forever. Jesus re-
plied, that this was no moment for captious cavil-
ling; they yet had the light and might use it; it
would soon be withdrawn, and darkness and ruin
might overtake them. He entreated them to walk
by it while they possessed it.

Thus passed the first day of his final visit to
Jerusalem. It began in acclamation and triumph.
It saw him hailed by the multitudes of the people,
and led in honor to the city and the Temple. To
the hopes of his followers, all was bright and
prosperous. His enemies were silenced, the peo-
ple were full of enthusiasm in his favor, the Tem-
ple was ringing with their hosannas, and even
the Gentiles were crowding to do him homage.
Whatever then he might have meant when he
talked of suffering and death, it was plain to his


friends now, that no such evils were to be feared;
and they were ready to congratulate themselves
on the close of their toils and the fulfilment of
their hopes. But the Messiah himself knew bet-
ter. He saw that all this show of honor was
founded in mistake, and that as soon as the actual
truth should be known, it would be withdrawn.
There was very little faith among the people,
which would survive the disappointment of their
present excited expectations. Many, it is true,
even among the chief priests, secretly believed in
him; but they would not acknowledge it, because
they would then be excommunicated. Ail this he
knew; therefore the delusive promises of the day
did not move him. Above all, he knew that the
great work of benevolence which he was sent by
the Father to perform, could be accomplished on-
ly through his death. He had neither the thought
nor the wish to shun it.

When the evening approached, he withdrew
from the city with his disciples, and retired to
Bethany. John says, " he did hide himself from
them;" and we may suppose, that his object was
to escape, for the present, both the pursuit of his
enemies, and the unreasonable excitement of the
people. He continued to seek this retirement
every evening to the close of his life.

John xii. 37.




The next day was Monday, and our Lord re-
turned in the morning to Jerusalem. On his way
thither, occurred one of the striking incidents,
which contributed to give the present week s>)
fearful a solemnity. Seeing a fig-tree at some
distance, which had an appearance of bearing
fruit, he went to it, but found none. In the hear-
ing of his disciples, he commanded it to continue
barren forever; and it withered away, so that the
next morning it was observed by those who pass-
ed by it. This was a significant act, like some
of those of the ancient prophets, designed as an
emblematical representation of the decay which
awaited the Jewish state in consequence of its
unfaithfulness. It v/as putting in a visible form,
if we may so say, the parable which he had before
spoken, of the husbandman who had long looked
in vain for fruit upon his tree, and therefore com-
manded it to be cut down.

On reaching the Temple, he now, as he had
done at the last Passover, cleared its courts of the

Matt. xxi. 18. Mark xi. 12.


buyers and sellers, and reproved those who thus
turned the house of prayer hito a den of thieves.
At the intermediate festivals, he had left them
undisturbed; probably because his enemies were
too active and powerful, and he could scarcely
with all his caution, escape them. But now his
lime was come, he was ready to end his work,
;and the present feeling of the people was such as
to screen him from all ill consequences. So that
although, when the rulers heard of this act, they
thought to seize him, they found the state of the
popular mind such that they dared not attempt it.
They could not find what they might do, says
Luke, for all the people were very attentive to
hear him.

At evening he again left the city, and spent the
night at some retired place in the neighborhood.

On Tuesday morning he returned to Jerusalem.
On the way they passed by the withered fig-tree;
and our Lord took the opportunity of impressing
the Twelve v/ith the importance and worth of that
undoubting faith, on which the power of working
miracles depended. No work, he assured them,
would be impossible to them who would ask in
faith, and nothing would be denied them; — an as-
surance of great importance to them in the ardu-
ous and discouraging labors on which they were
entering. They needed it: and in the miraculous
powers which attended them wherever they went,


their Lord's remarkable promise was literally ful-
filled. To his disciples of the present day it does
not literally apply; but in its spi)^ it holds good.
Every one who prays in humble and hearty faith,
receives an inward spiritual blessing, worth as
much to his soul as an outward miracle.

On arriving at the Temple, as he walked
among the porticos, conversing and teaching, he
was addressed by certain of the chief priests and
elders, who came to him, probably, as a deputation^
from the Sanhedrim. They had been prevented
from executing their decree against him, by the
strong feeling in his favor which existed among
the people. It became necessary therefore, to
have some plausible pretext for an accusation, or
their design would be defeated. With this view,
they appointed deputies to put to him the ques-
tion, in the hearing of the people in the Temple,
" By what authority doest thou these things, and
who gave thee this authority?" They hoped to
make use of his answer to entangle him with the
Roman power. Jesus perceived their design, and
foiled it by his reply. He said that he would tell
them, if they would tell him their opinion of John's
baptism; was it from heaven, or of men? This-
question they declined answering, because they
could not do it without committins: themselves..

Matt. xxi. 2.S. Mark xi. 27. Luke xx. 1.


He consequently refused to answer their insidious
interrogation. He did not stop there. In the
presence of the people to wliom they had hoped
to expose him, he pronounced a severe censure
of their inconsistent disregard of the Baptist's in-
structions. He then recited that solemn parable
in which he describes the various dispensations
of God which had been abus(3d by the Jewish
■people, the sending of his Son in hope that he
%vould be reverenced, and the doom that awaited
his rejection. They could not fail to perceive
that he had aimed this parable a^^ainst them, and
they would gladly have seized liim. But such
was the crowd of people who were eagerly listen-
ing to him, that they dared not make the attempt.
They still, however, did not de;>ist from their
design of entangling him in his t.alk, that they
might find whereof to accuse him. They accord-
ingly, in the course of the day, sent to him an-
other deputation, consisting of Pharisees and
Herodians. These were to " feign themselves
just men," says Luke, "and take hold of his
words, that so they might deliver him to the pow-
er and authority of the governor." They accord-
ingly addressed him with apparent respect, and in
very complimentary terms asked his judgment on
the question, \\'hether it were lawful to pay tribute

Matt. xxii. 15. Mark xii. 12. Luke xx. 20.


to the Roman Emperor. Who the Herodians
were, is not certainly known. Various opinions
have existed in regard to them. They probably
derived their name from Herod the Great, and
were a sect partly religious and partly political.
They probably advocated the cause of the Ro-
mans, and were averse to all opposition to their
authority. The question which they put to Jesus
was one from which it was difficult to escape; and
although they had had many proofs of his wisdom
and caution, they fancied that now they should
successfully entrap him. They did not consider
his power of penetrating beyond the appearance,
and discerning the motives and thoughts of men.
He perceived their hypocrisy, and foiled their
cunning. " Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? "
he said; " show me the tribute-money." They
brought him a piece. " Whose image and su-
perscription are these? " he asked. " Caesar's,"
they replied. Then, said he, "Render unto
CcEsar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God
the things that are God's." This admirable
answer has passed into a proverb. When the
questioners heard it, they marvelled at it, say
the Evangelists; and finding that they could not
take hold of his words before the people, they
held their peace and departed.

But there were other caviller?, who pressed
upon him. Certain Sadducees, ^ sect who de-


nied the doctrine of a resurrection, and held that
thv'^re is no such thing as angel or spirit, came to
him with a perplexing question about the future

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Online LibraryHenry WareThe life of the saviour → online text (page 11 of 15)