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branches, and fair boughs, and palms also.” It was accordingly as a manifestation of great joy, that the multitudes cut down branches from the trees, and strewed them in the way of Jesus at his royal procession to Jernsalem. This custom prevails to a certain extent among ourselves with respect to those whom we delight to bonour; we erect triumphal arches of evergreens above their heads, and strew their path with fragrant flowers.
Verse 9: “ And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Husanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord [or, according to Dr. Hammond's rendering, 'Blessed in the name of the Lord be he that cometh']; Hosanna in the highest.” Hosanna is a Hebrew word, signifying "save" or “belp”, when addressed to any one. Thus, in 2 Samuel xiv. 4, when the woman of Tekoah came to David, and fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, Help, O King; the Hebrew is “Hosanna, O King.” Thus again in 2 Kings vi. 26, when a woman addresses Jehoram in the words “ Help, my Lord, O King;” the Hebrew word rendered “Help” is Hosanna. So, when speaking directly to any person, we say “ Hosanna, O King," the meaning is, Help or save us, o King.” But when speaking of a person, the meaning is different; we then desire for him safety or prosperity, it is then a form of blessing, or of wishing one well. Thus, when the multitudes cried “Hosanna to the Son of David,” their meaning was, “ God preserve this Son of David, this King of Israel.” « Hosanna in the highest,”
May a blessing from the highest heaven attend him.” In fact, the expression was, under the circumstances, perfectly equivalent to our popular acclamation “God save the King!” By styling Jesus the “Son of David," the multitudes acknowledged his messiahship, for it had been foretold by the prophets, that the Christ should be of the seed of David; and Jesus was lineally descended from that monarch both by Joseph and Mary, as is shown in the respective genealogies of Matthew and of Luke. “ He that cometh in the name of the Lord;" i. e. he that cometh with authority from Jehovah, was another title of the Messias. The approach of the Master to Jerusalem in this regal state, cast the city into a tumult, and the inquiry passed eagerly from lip to lip, “ Who is this?" The multitudes, who acknowledged him as their monarch and Saviour, answered “ This is Jesus, the Prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” Perhaps there is an allusion here to the promise made by Moses to the Israelites before his death—“ A Prophet shall Jehovah your God raise up like unto me: him shall ye
hear.” We can scarcely relinquish this interesting narrative, without the reflection that if Jesus had been actuated by motives of earthly ambition, and desired to become an earthly monarch, here he could have easily accomplished it. Vast multitudes of the people had already acknowledged his sovereignty, and taken the vow of fealty to him; and he now entered the metropolis of his native land, accompanied by followers whose zeal instantly communicated itself to all the inhabitants. Here was a state of affairs exceedingly favourable to casting off the Roman yoke, declaring the independence of his country, and placing himself at once at the head of a liberated people. But the Master remembered the instructions he had received from that heavenly vision, usually called “the Temptation,” wherein he was taught not to use bis miraculous powers for his personal aggrandizement, even though he could by their instrumentality acquire possession of all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them.” (see on chap. iv. 8.) He knew that his kingdom was not of this world, but a kingdom of knowledge, virtue, and felicity, beginning indeed on earth, but perfected only in heaven. He formed the just judgment, that the moral and religious reformation of mankind is a far more glorious achievement, than to wear a royal diadem and be clothed with imperial purple. It was necessary for the fulfilment of prophecy, and thus for attesting his messiahship, that he should make this regal procession from Bethphage to Jerusalem; but that purpose being accomplished, he makes no use of the popular fervour in his cause, but returns again to his humble station as a Galilean peasant, and to his humble occupation as a preacher of the Gospel. In the evening after his triumph he went to Bethany, a village distant about two miles from Jerusalem, and lodged there, probably with his friend Lazarus and his sisters. It is remarkable that from this time till that of his death,
which happened almost six days after, he never spent the night in Jerusalem; but always returned to Bethany in the evening, whence he proceeded forth again each following morning to continue his divine instructions to the people. He may have had two objects in thus quitting the metropolis every night, and taking up his abode in a neighbouring hamlet. One may have been, the avoidance of the snare laid for him by his enemies; into whose hands he desired not to fall, till he had fulfilled all the purposes of his mission, and “ finished the work which his Father had given him to do.” Another reason may have been, to banish the impression, if any such existed, that, after the recent demonstrations in his favour, he had any
desire to possess himself of kingly power.
The day after Jesus had cast out of the Temple the money-changers," who gave the Jews from the country districts, in exchange for smaller coin, the half shekel required for the use of the Temple, and perhaps also Roman coin in exchange for that of the provinces, and those who sold doves" for offerings; the chief priests and elders asked him, by what authority he did these things? and who gave him that authority? He answered them, as was frequently his manner, by propounding another question; verse 25, “ The baptism of John, whence was it?” whence had it its origin and authority?_“ from heaven, or from men?” His enemies were afraid to answer this question. If they replied, that John's mission was divine, Jesus would have responded, Why then do ye not believe in me; for he testified concerning me, declaring that he came as a herald to prepare men for my appearance, that he was not worthy to unloose the ties of my sandals, that I was the Son of God, or the promised Messias? If the Baptist was inspired, why do ye not receive his testimony? Equal if not greater difficulties encompassed them, if they said that the mission of John was not divine, that he was not sent of God. In this case, they would have drawn on themselves the dislike and hatred of the multitude, for they believed that John was a prophet, a messenger from on high. Unwilling either to acknowledge the Christship of Jesus, or to offend the populace, the chief priests and elders declined answering the question as to the origin of the Baptist's mission, saying, “ We cannot tell.” “ And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.” If any should marvel why the Master did not give a direct reply to the inquiry of his adver. saries, let him think for a moment of the evidence they already possessed, if they had not steeled their hearts and closed the door of their understandings against its influence. He had now been labouring nearly one year (some say three years) amongst them; during which time he delivered lessons of the profoundest wisdom, “ speaking as never man spake;” and performed the most numerous and striking miracles, such as “no man could do except God were with him.” These were the evidences of his mission; these showed the authority by which he acted; to these he himself appeals for proof that he was sent from God, “ the works that I do in my Father's name,” or by my Father's authority, “they bear witness of me;" if the chief priests and elders were not convinced by such testimonies, would they have believed him on his own simple declaration?
Verses 28–31 (Jesus now addresses them in the language of parable): “A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to-day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not; but afterward he repented, and went. And be came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir; and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his Father? They say unto him, the first.” The conclusion, drawn by the Saviour from this answer, explains the meaning of the parable: “Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God,” or embrace the Gospel “ before you.” The “publicans and harlots,” the most vicious and abandoned of the people, are represented by the son who refused to obey his parent; for, by continuing in their usual wicked conduct, they had in effect been saying “I will not,” to all the previous invitations of Jehovah. But, like that son, they regret their former iniquity and infidelity, they acknowledge the Messiahship of Jesus, and the divinity of his Gospel, they come into the kingdom of God, they receive the Christian Dispensation. The “chief priests and elders” of the Jews, on the contrary, resemble the son who willingly promised obedience to his parent's injunction; they profess themselves religious; they say they are waiting for the Lord's Anointed; they constantly assert with their lips, “I go, sir;" yet, at the same time, they disobey the commandments of God, they reject his Son, they disbelieve his Gospel, they will not enter into his Kingdom. Having thus shown them that the humble, the vicious, the illiterate, the despised, should be followers of the Son of David before themselves, who were esteemed great, and learned, and religious, and noble; Jesus addresses to them another parable of still more lamentable signification.
Verses 33, 34; “ Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a wine-press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to busbandmen, and went into a far country: and when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.” Our Divine Instructor seems to: bave borrowed the outline of this affecting parable from the fifth chapter of Isaiah. It might be an interesting and profitable employment for the reader, to compare the parable of the Prophet with that of the Saviour, and to note how much the narrative of Jesus excels its predecessor, in aptness of illustration, weight of meaning, and importance of moral. Both the ancient and the later parables, mention the “ building of the tower,” and the
digging of the wine-press.” Vineyards were common among the Jews, and are still so in eastern countries. The " tower" was destined for the residence of the keeper of the vineyard, where he could watch the fruit, and protect it from thieves. It was generally nothing more than a rude but, designed only for a temporary purpose, and not expected to be habitable longer than the brief season of the vintage. That mentioned in the text, however, being denominated a tower, must have been a more durable, as well as a more extensive building, intended perhaps not only to accommodate the overseer, but to contain all the apparatus necessary for making wine from the grapes. The “wine-press” was above ground, so it must have been what the Jews called the lake, which
digged out of the ground.” This “ lake” was situ