The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Bishop Knecht’s Practical Commentary on Matthew 22:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 5, 2015

TRIUMPHAL ENTRY OF JESUS INTO JERUSALEM
[Mat 22:1–11. Mark 2:1–10. Luke 19:29–38]

ON the following morning (1) Jesus left Bethania and went to Jerusalem. When He had come to Bethphage (2), on the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, saying: “Go ye into the village that is over against you, and immediately you shall find an ass and a colt (3) with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if any man shall say anything to you, say ye that the Lord hath need of them.”

1. Following morning. Jesus had passed Friday and Saturday (Sabbath) at Bethania, where He was anointed by Mary. On the next day, Sunday, He made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
2. Bethphage. A little village situated to the west of Bethania, on the summit of the Mount of Olives, and not far from Jerusalem.
3. A colt. “On which no man hath sitten”, added our Lord. Therefore the first service performed by this beast was dedicated to Him.

So the disciples went and found the colt standing as Jesus had said. They therefore brought the ass and the colt (4) to Jesus, and, laying their garments upon it, they made Jesus sit thereon. Now many wished to see Jesus, because He had raised Lazarus from the dead. When, therefore, Jesus was near the city, His disciples and a great multitude (5) spread their garments in the way: while some cut down branches (6) from the trees and strewed them along the road. And a vast multitude went before and followed after, crying: “Hosanna (7) to the Son of David! (8) Blessed is He that cometh in the name (9) of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest!” (10)

4. The ass and the colt. The disciples brought the ass as well as the colt to Jesus, because this last, having never been separated from its mother, might have proved unmanageable without her.
5. A great multitude. The news of the raising of Lazarus had spread through Jerusalem, and had kindled in the crowd of pilgrims, who had flocked thither for the Paschal Feast, the belief that Jesus was indeed the Messias. They therefore prepared this triumphal entry for Him.
6. Branches. It was the custom to carry and wave palm-branches as a sign of joy and victory.
7. Hosanna. This exclamation is the equivalent of our “Hurrah!” and means “Save, we pray”.
8. To the Son of David. To the Messias.
9. In the name. Sent by the Lord God.
1o. The highest! They appealed to the angels to share the joy with which they greeted their Messias.

There were also in the crowd some Pharisees, who, being filled with envy and hatred, never lost sight of Jesus. Seeing the honours that were now paid to Him, they indignantly (11) asked: “Hearest Thou (12) what these say?” Jesus replied: “If these should hold their peace, the stones (13) will cry out.” The nearer He came to the city, the greater the crowd became, and the more the enthusiasm of the people increased.

11. Indignantly. At the sight of the people’s exultation. As they did not dare to impose silence on the populace, they turned on Jesus and rebuked Him.
12. Hearest Thou? How they greet you as the Messias! Do you accept this homage without protest?
13. The stones. The truth that I am the Messias cannot be suppressed; it must be proclaimed; and if men did not bear witness, God would miraculously testify to this truth by means of the very stones. When, at our Lord’s death, His disciples, crushed by fear and grief, held their peace, the quaking earth and the rent rocks bore witness to their Lord and Creator (St. Ambrose).

Then was fulfilled the prophecy of Zacharias, that Jerusalem should be visited by her king as a Saviour; that He should be poor and riding on an ass [Zach. 9:9].

But seeing9 Jerusalem, Jesus wept over it, saying: “If thou also (14) hadst known, and that in this thy day (15), the things (16) that are for thy peace, but now they are hidden (17) from thy eyes! For the days shall come upon thee, and thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and straiten thee (18) on every side, and beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee, and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone, because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.” (19)

14. Thou also. As well as this shouting crowd.
15. Thy day. On this day which is so important for you and so decisive of your fate.
16. The things. Namely the belief in the Messias, which would bring you salvation.
17. Hidden. By your own fault, your wilful blindness.
18. Straiten thee. Our Lord saw in spirit the terrible fate which would ere long overtake the unbelieving city; how it would be surrounded by enemies, and utterly destroyed.
19. Thy visitation. You refuse to see that God is visiting you at this moment, when your Saviour is entering within your walls.

As Jesus rode through the streets directly to the Temple, the whole city was moved (20). Then the sick, the blind and the lame were brought to Him from every side, and He cured them all. At this sight the children began to cry out again: “Hosanna to the Son of David!” But the Pharisees, becoming furious, told Him to rebuke them. Jesus answered them: “Have you never read the words: Out of the mouths of infants and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise?” (21)

20. Moved. Scripture adds: “When He was come into Jerusalem, the whole city was moved, saying: ‘Who is this?’ And the people said: ‘This is Jesus, the Prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.’ ” The multitude which had formed the joyous and triumphant procession was principally composed of pilgrims from Galilee and Peræa. The exultation of these strangers roused even the inhabitants of Jerusalem out of their indifference, and they asked: “Who is this Man? Why is He so honoured and praised?” They quite ignored or forgot the miracles He had worked in their midst: they would not know Him, and thereby betrayed that unbelief over which Jesus had but just before shed such bitter tears.
21. Perfected praise. Jesus applied the passage (Psalm 8:3) to Himself, saying thus to His adversaries: “These children, by shouting in praise of Me, do but fulfil that which the Prophet foretold they would do.”

WHAT WE LEARN FROM THIS PASSAGE

Jesus, the Promised Redeemer. Hitherto our Lord had avoided all tokens of veneration on the part of the people (see chapter XXXIII); but now that He was approaching Jerusalem to suffer and die for the Redemption of the world, it was His will to enter its walls solemnly, as Messias and King. He desired that thousands of voices should proclaim in the presence of the unbelieving people of Jerusalem, that He was indeed their promised Redeemer. But He did not make this entry in battle-array, and mounted on a war-horse: He rode in, meek and gentle, sitting on an ass, the type of peace, to signify that He was not the Founder and King of an earthly city, raised by force of arms, such as most of the Jews fondly expected, but the Prince of Peace, whose kingdom was one of truth and grace.

Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus showed Himself to be God, and this in a fourfold way. 1. He knew that His disciples would find the ass and her colt tied up, as described, in the village of Bethphage, and He knew the disposition of their owner. 2. He foretold the siege and destruction of Jerusalem (for the account of which see chapter LVIII). He knew the things which were invisible, as also those things which had not yet taken place, and the secret thoughts in the hearts of men. He was, therefore, omniscient. 3. He applied to Himself the passage in Psalm 8: “Out of the mouths of infants” &c. This Psalm relates to the adoration paid by all creation, and even little children, to the Lord God. By applying it to Himself, Jesus claimed to be the Lord and God of creation. 4. He showed His divine Omnipotence by healing the lame, blind and sick who were brought to Him.

The tears of Jesus. All in the midst of the joy of the people and the homage paid to Him, Jesus burst into tears at the sight of the holy city! He who had dried the tears of so many, and had said to the mourners: “Weep not”, now wept Himself. “This scene is so moving that it defies all attempts at description. The soul alone can try to discern what passed through the mind of Jesus, and weep with Him as a child weeps with its mother, the reason of whose tears it cannot understand. And in truth the tears of Jesus are a mystery to us, so incomprehensible is the love which brought Him from heaven to this vale of tears. He prayed for those who persecuted Him, but it is infinitely more that He should have wept over their misfortunes” (Schegg). Let us try to penetrate the mystery of these tears! He gazed at the Temple, both the erection and the services of which pointed to Him, the Redeemer, whom, in spite of all, this highly favoured city refused to acknowledge! That day was the last day of grace for both city and people. His solemn entry was for them the last warning and the time of visitation: and Jesus knew but too well that this last grace would be passed by, unused, as all the rest had been, and that His chosen people would blindly reject salvation, while hatred and envy of their Saviour filled the hearts of their leaders. Jesus wept therefore 1. over the blindness and obstinacy of the chosen people; for He, the Saviour, was bringing no salvation to the impenitent city which, by its final rejection of Him, would fill the measure of God’s wrath, and draw down on itself speedy and terrible judgment. This knowledge drew bitter tears from Him. He wept 2. over the coming downfall of Jerusalem, and the calamities which its people would bring on themselves; and still more over the eternal woe which would overtake this unfaithful and impenitent city. He therefore wept especially 3. over the eternal loss of so many souls which He had come to save. How very great is the love of the Divine Heart of Jesus, that it should make Him shed bitter tears over those who repaid His love with such ingratitude, and who were ruined by their own fault!

Resistance to grace. We see by the case of the unbelieving city of Jerusalem how possible it is to resist grace.

Sins against the Holy Ghost. The Pharisees and those under their influence envied Jesus on account of the wonderful works which He did, and resisted the known truth that Jesus was the Messias; and thus deliberately persevered in impenitence.

Palm-Sunday, with the blessing of palms and its solemn procession, is thus celebrated 1. in memory of our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem; 2. in thankful remembrance of the victory of faith over unbelief; and 3. as a salutary warning to us that we must overcome sin if we desire to enter heaven triumphantly.

APPLICATION

To neglect the hour of grace, and to resist grace are the most terrible of misfortunes. Will you suffer such a misfortune to overtake you? Will you be obstinate, impenitent, and lose your soul? A man’s heart becomes bad little by little, not all at once; and he who in his youth refuses to listen to warnings, and resists God’s grace, is likely to grow up leading an evil life, and is on the high road to obstinacy in sin and final impenitence. Apply this to yourself!

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