Notes on Luke 19:28-48

Luke 19:28‑48  •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 12
Next follows the approach to Jerusalem. The Messiah indeed, but Son of Man, presents Himself according to the prophecies going before even when they are not formally cited, with the fullest parabolic instruction just given that the opposition to Him was deliberately willful and conclusive, for it was not only that His citizens (The Jews) despised Him coming as He did in humiliation for the deepest purposes of divine love, but they “hated” Him and sent a message after Him, saying, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” Awful to hear from His lips, those were His “enemies,” above all others, who would not that He should reign over them. His heavenly glory was at least as repugnant to them as His earthly abasement. They appreciated neither the grace which brought Him down nor the glory to which as man He was exalted. What could He say then but “Bring them hither and slay them before me?” as ever, the moral springs are laid bare in our Gospel, and, if evil, judged.
“And when he had said these things, he went on before, going up to Jerusalem. And it came to pass when he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, toward the mountain called Olivet, he sent two of his disciples, saying, Go away into the village over against you; in which as ye enter ye shall find a colt tied on which not one of man ever sat: loose and bring it. And if any one ask you, Why do ye loose [it]? thus shall ye say to him, Because the Lord hath need of it. And they that were sent, having gone away, found even as he had said to them. And as they were loosing the colt, its owners said to them, Why loose ye the colt? And they said, Because the Lord hath need of it. And they brought it to Jesus; and, having cast their garments on the colt, they set Jesus thereon; and, as they went, they strewed their garments in the way.” (Verses 28-36.)
The labor of ancients and moderns to find in this remarkable incident a type of the Gentiles obedient to the gospel, as the Lord received and rode on the colt, seems to me far from intelligent. Rather was it very simply the evidence of His divine knowledge and the assertion among the Jews of His claim as Jehovah Messiah, verified by facts and by the proved subjection of human hearts where God was pleased to effect it to the honor of His Son. Hence the minuteness with which the words which passed and the accomplishment of all He said are noted by the Spirit. Doubtless, as in all the Gospels, so here it was in meekness and lowliness He entered; still it was as the king according to the revealed mind of God. It was not yet the day of trouble when Jehovah is to hear His Christ with the saving strength of His right hand; nor was yet the time come for the Jew to glory in the name of Jehovah, but alas I no better than the Gentiles who know not God, these in chariots and those on horses. But One was there who for them and us in all the degradation and selfishness and guilt of the fallen race was willing to bear the uttermost rejection of man, the forsaking of God Himself crowning it, that we might be brought to God owning our sinfulness and resting on the grace which reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
But the power of God, which wrought in hearts prepared by grace as a suitable testimony to Jesus at that moment, was still more pointedly marked in what Luke next records, and Luke only as it is characteristic of the Holy Ghost's design in his account. “And as he was drawing near, already at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began with rejoicing to praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works which they had seen, saying, Blessed the King that cometh in Jehovah's name: in heaven peace, and glory in [the] highest. And some of the Pharisees from the crowd said unto him, Teacher, rebuke thy disciples. And answering he said, I tell you that, if these shall be silent, the stones will cry out.” (Verses 37-40.)
It is not merely the crowds or those who went before and followed as in Matthew and Mark; nor is it the cries of the children in the temple, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David, as in the first Gospel most appropriately. Here we are told of the whole multitude of the disciples, and hence of words only befitting their lips, though surely given of God with a wisdom reaching far beyond their measure, as is known not seldom among the witnesses of Christ. “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest” looks · to things higher and more immediate than the preceding words cited from Psa. 118 and common to all four evangelists.
It is a striking change even from the announcement of another multitude, near the beginning of this Gospel, who suddenly appeared with the angelic herald of the Savior's birth, and praised God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, in men good pleasure.” Such was the suited celebration of the Son now incarnate, that marvelous and mighty fact which introduced God Himself into the most touching relations with humanity, and laid the basis for the manifestation of the Father in the person of Christ, as well as for the accomplishment of the infinite work of redemption, on which hangs the righteous vindication of God, and the gracious deliverance of the elect, and the reconciliation of all things in heaven and on earth to His own everlasting glory. And the heavenly host speak of the grand result as then invisibly enshrined in Him just born, a babe in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger in Bethlehem. God was pleased to manifest His good pleasure in men, not in angels, and so to fill the highest seats with glory to Himself, and earth with peace.
But in fact Jesus was, as the prophets had fully and distinctly foreshown He must be, despised and rejected of men. This postponed in divine wisdom, though it could not frustrate, the purpose of God. Rather did it make room for a new and higher display of what was hidden in God from ages and generations, and now made known in the church to the principalities and powers in heavenly places. However this be, the disciples in their outburst of praise (now that the Lord was rejected and with Him meanwhile peace for the earth gone, and division and a sword the consequence of the struggle between light and darkness) do nevertheless anticipate “peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” If the former proclaimed the general purpose of God, the latter the ways of God when the enemy might seem on the point of triumphing. If earth disown and cast out the Savior, if the Jews refuse the Messiah because He is incomparably more than the Son of David and come to bring about incomparably deeper and larger purposes, it is but for a season a transfer of the seat of blessing to heaven for the brightest and fullest accomplishment of all God's will and mind. The kingdom itself became manifestly of heaven thereby, and the exaltation of the rejected Lord is to sit down meanwhile on the right hand of the Majesty on high, Satan being utterly defeated by man in the person of the woman's Seed on the throne of the highest, and the kingdom over the earth will follow the moment that it pleases the Father, who is meanwhile forming a people united to Christ His Son, His body, His bride, to be with Him where He is at His coming. Peace is in heaven, because He was going there victoriously, having made peace by the blood of the cross, Himself our peace now whether we have been Jews or Greeks.
If Pharisees, insensible to His glory, complained of the praises of the disciples, the Lord could not but tell them that they were more obdurate than the stones beneath and around them.
Observe further that instead of the dispensational lesson of the fig tree cursed as in Matthew, and in Mark with yet minuter details for instruction in service, we have the grace of the Lord in His weeping over the guilty and doomed city. “And when he drew near, on seeing the city, he wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things for thy peace: but now they are hid from thine eyes. For days shall come upon thee that thine enemies shall make a rampart about thee and compass thee round and keep thee in on every side, and level thee with the ground and thy children in thee, and not leave in thee stone upon stone; because thou knewest not the season of thy visitation.” (Ver. 41-44.) Every word of the warning was punctually fulfilled in the siege of Titus; but what grace shone out of that heart surcharged with grief for the people so blindly to their own ruin refusing Himself who wept over them in a love thus truly divine and perfectly human!
It was Matthew's office to bring out the woes He solemnly pronounced over the holy city now so unholy, not their civil destruction but rather the sanctuary once His Father's house, now their house left to them desolate, yet not hopelessly. “For” as He said then, “ye shall not see me till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of Jehovah.” All that is left out in this part of our Gospel, and the more remarkably, as we find the cleansing of the temple afterward. “And entering into the temple he began to cast out those that sold,1 saying to them, It is written, And my house shall be a house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of robbers.” (Ver. 45, 46.) Without agreeing with Jerome, who saw in the act of our Lord the greatest miracle He ever wrought, one may note profitably how, even at such a moment when irresistible energy accompanied His indignant rebuke of their profanity and cast such unworthy traffic outside the sacred precincts, He employs as ever the written word as His ground and warrant.
In harmony with this we read that “he was teaching by day in the temple; but the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, and did not find what they could do, for all the people hung on him while hearing.” (Ver. 47, 48.) The word of God from His lips especially told on the consciences of men. The religious leaders, having long rejected Him, not only lost all right feeling but were given up to a murderous hatred soon to be satisfied. Such ever proves the world when confronted with the light of God; and withal the perfect love of God in Christ only provoked it the more.