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bespake him to be, Jesus was in the exercise of his duty when he went to lodge with
[Luke xix. 11.] And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. Because his followers were accompanying him to the royal city, in expectation that the kingdom of God would immediately appear, and with a resolution to assist him in erecting it, he spake a parable, wherein he shewed them their duty, described the true nature of the kingdom of God, and taught them that it was not immediately to appear. The evangelist says, that "as, they heard these things," namely, that salvation was come to Zaccheus's family," he added and spake a parable." From this we gather that he spake the parable in Zaccheus's house. He said, therefore, a certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. A certain king's son, in order to be confirmed in his father's kingdom, went into a far country to do homage unto a more powerful potentate, of whom he held it as a vassal. The allusion here is to a custom which prevailed greatly in our Lord's time among the princes of the East. Before they ventured to ascend the throne, they went to Rome, and solicited the emperor's permission,' who disposed of all the tributary kingdoms as he saw fit. The meaning of this part of the parable is, that before Jesus set up his kingdom, he was to die and ascend into heaven. Before he departed, he called his ten household slaves, and gave each of them a sum of money to be employed in trade till he should return. By the ten household slaves we are to understand chiefly the apostles and first preachers of the gospel, to whom Jesus gave endowments fitting them for their work, and from whom he expected due improvement of these endowments in the propagation of the gospel. This was their particular duty in the erection of the kingdom of God, about which they were now so solicitous. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, we will not have this man to reign over us. His natural subjects hated him without a cause, as appears from the message which they sent to the potentate, from whom he sought what, in later times, has been called investiture: for, in that message, they alleged no crime against him, but only expressed their ill-will towards him, by declaring they would not have him to reign over them. This is a true representation of the causeless opposition which the Jewish great men made to Jesus. The message which these citizens sent after their prince had no effect; he received the kingdom, and returned with full authority, which he exercised in calling his servants to account, and in punishing his rebellious subjects. So the opposition which the Jews made to our Lord's being made king proved ineffectual. Having, therefore, all power in heaven and in earth given unto him after his death, he will return to reckon with his apostles, and ministers, and rebellious subjects. Nay, he has returned already, and punished the Jews with a most exemplary punishment for resisting his government. [Luke xix. 15.] And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. So Jesus, both at the day of men's death, and at the general judgment, will make a strict enquiry into the use and improvement which all his servants, but especially the ministers of the gospel, have made of the talents and opportunities committed unto them. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds, The pound here mentioned was in value in silver, five pounds, ten shillings, and three-pence; in gold, it was equal to ninety-five pounds, five shillings. The first servant having been very diligent and successful, was greatly applauded by his lord, who rewarded him by raising him to a considerable dignity in
the kingdom which he had lately received. [Luke xix. 17.] And he said unto him, well done, thou good servant, because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. In like manner, the faithful apostles and ministers of Christ shall be rewarded with great honour and authority in his kingdom.
And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds The modesty of this and the former servant is remarkable. They do not say that they themselves had gained the ten or the five pounds, but they say, "thy pound hath gained ten pounds," attributing their success, not to themselves, but to the gifts of his grace. And he said likewise to him, be thou also ruler over five cities. This servant, having been both diligent and successful, though in an inferior degree, was approved and rewarded accordingly; for his lord gave him authority over five cities. Thus the least of Christ's faithful ministers and servants shall be rewarded with a proportionable share of the pleasures of his kingdom.
And another came, saying, Lord, here is thy pound, which I kept laid up in a napkin. For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou laidest not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. This is a proverbial description of an unjust rigorous character. The slothful servant, by applying it to his lord, aggravated his crime not a little. He impudently told him, that, knowing his severe and griping disposition, he thought it prudent not to risk his money in trade, for fear he should have lost it; that he had hid it in a napkin in order to deliver it to him safe at his return; and that this was the true reason why he had not increased his talent as the others had done theirs. Thus slothful ministers of religion and 'pretended servants of Christ will be ever ready to throw the blame of their unfaithfulness on God himself. And he saith, out of thine own mouth will I judge thee thou wicked servant. Thou knewest, or rather, didst thou know that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow? Wherefore, then, gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have received mine own with usury, (with interest Thou hast been slothful in the highest degree; for if thou really hadst believed me to be the rigorous person thou sayest I am, thou certainly wouldst have been at the pains to lend out my money, a method of improve ment of thy talent which would have occasioned thee no trouble at all; thy excuse, therefore, is a mere pretence. In like manner, all the excuses which wicked ministers offer in their own behalf shall, at the bar of God, stand them in no stead, whether they be drawn from the character which they affixed to God, or from his decrees, or from their own inability, or from the difficulty of his service, or from any other consideration whatever. [Luke xix. 24.] And he said to them that stood by, take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. And they said unto him, lord, he hath ten pounds. They who stood by, the officers of justice who waited on the king, thought there was no occasion to give the pound to one who had so much already. Perhaps they thought it was more proper to give it to him who had only five pounds. But the king told them they should do as he ordered, because it was agreeable to the rules of all wise administrations, to bestow the most and greatest trusts on them who, by their fidelity in offices already enjoyed by them, have shewed that they best deserved them. For I say unto you, that unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away from him. The opportunities and advantages which he enjoys shall be taken from him, and given to such as improve those already bestowed on them. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. Those who are guilty of rebellion against me, by doing all in their power to hinder my obtaining the kingdom, bring hither, and put them to death this
instant. The Jews were Christ's enemies, who would not have him to reign over them, and for that crime he destroyed their nation
They who affix a general meaning to this parable, suppose that the character and end of three persons are described in it. 1. The character of those who profess themselves the servants of Christ, and who act in a manner suitable to their profession. 2. The character of those who take on them the title, but do not act up to it. 3. The character of those who, though they be Christ's natural subjects, neither profess themselves his servants, nor yield him obedience; but endeavour to shake off his yoke, and oppose him with all their might. The first sort are the true disciples of Christ. The second sort are hypocrites. The third are the openly profane. The treatment which the servants in the parable met with from their lord, represents the judgment and end of the different sorts of Christians just now mentioned, True disciples shall be munificently rewarded with the honours and pleasures of immortality. Hypocrites shall be spoiled of all the advantages on which they relied, and stripped of those false virtues for which they valued themselves; 'so that, being shewed to all the world in their proper colours, their pride shall be utterly mortified, and they themselves loaded with eternal infamy. Lastly, the detection and punishment of hypocrites shall add to the honours of the truly virtuous, whose glory shall thus shine more conspicuously.
Having finished the parable, our Lord left the house of Zaccheus, and proceeded in his journey to Jerusalem. And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem. By his alacrity in the journey, he shewed how willing he was to undergo those heavy sufferings which he knew were to befal him in Jerusalem.
Our Lord was now on the road to Jerusalem, where he proposed to celebrate the passover. But the people who were come up early to purify themselves, wondering that he was not arrived, enquired for him, and said to one another as they stood in the temple, is he afraid, and will not come to the feast? This delay was occasioned by a commandment of the chief priests and Pharisees, that if any man knew where Jesus was, he should discover it, that they might apprehend him.
At length, Jesus came to Bethany six days before the passover. And because it was evening when he arrived, he turned in to lodge with Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead. There they made him a supper, and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair. She did these things in token of the warm sense she had of the many favours he had conferred on her and her relations, but especially for the wonderful kindness he had lately shewed to her brother Lazarus. From this action of Mary's, as well as from Martha's serving now and on a former occasion, it would appear that Mary was the elder sister. And the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Judas was now angry because his Master had not taken this ointment with a view to sell it, pretending that the price received for it might have been bestowed on the poor. Nevertheless, his real motive was covetousness; for as he carried the bag, he thought if his Master had sold the ointment, he would have gotten the money to keep, and so might have applied part of it to his own private use. But it is no new thing for the basest men to cover their blackest crimes with the fair pretence of zeal for the honour of God and the interests of religion.
Bethany being within two miles of Jerusalem, the news of his arrival soon reached the city, and drew out great numbers of the citizens; for they had a curiosity to see the man that hal been raised from the dead, and the still more wonderful man that had raised him. When they came and saw Lazarus, many of them believed, that is,
were convinced both of Lazarus's resurrection and of the divinity of Christ's mission. But the news of their believing together with the reason of its being currently reported in Jerusalem, came to the chief priests' ears, and incensed them to such a degree, that they resolved to kill, not Jesus only, but also, if it were possible, to destroy
The multitude which attended our Lord in this journey [Mat. xx. 29.] having increased prodigiously as he advanced towards Jerusalem, he did not now shun them, and enter the city privately, as he had always done on former occasions. The people were to honour him with the title of Messiah publicly, that he might have an opportunity of accepting that august name in the most avowed manner, before he ascended into heaven. Moreover, the priests, who had issued out a proclamation against him, [John xi. 57.] were to be awed, at least, for a while, and restrained from offering him violence. For as he had doctrines to teach, rebukes to give, and other things to do that could not fail to incense those proud rulers, without doubt they would have put him to death prematurely, had not the people appeared on his side. Accordingly, after the parable of the husbandmen was spoken, [Mat. xxi. 45.] the priests "sought to lay hands on him, but feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet." Nay, the whole council was intimidated by them; for, in their deliberation about putting Jesus to death, [Mat. xxvi. 5.] they said to one another, "not on the feastday, lest there be an uproar among the people." Our Lord's driving the buyers and sellers out of the temple, his parables of the husbandmen and marriage supper, representing the rejection of the Jewish nation, and the downfal of their state, with the woes denounced against the Pharisees in their own hearing, made part of the work he had to do before he ascended, which would have brought instant destruction upon him, had not the great men's rage been restrained by the uncommon respect which the people generally shewed him. Wherefore, the multitude being now very great, and Jesus having such good reasons not to shun them as formerly, he sent two of his disciples for an ass which never had been rode upon, but which, by his simple volition, he could tame, proposing, according to the prophecy Zech. ix. 9, to ride into the city, amidst the surrounding throng Probably there were strait paases in the mount of Olives, through which the road lay [Luke xix. 37.]; and, no doubt, narrow streets in the city also, by which he was to go to the temple. In these narrow passes and lanes he might have been incommoded by the press had he walked on foot. Besides, the strangers who were now in Jerusalem would increase the crowd. It seems, they knew of his coming, [John xii. 12.] and perhaps expected that he was bringing Lazarus along with him, to shew him in public as a trophy of his power. [compare John xii. 12, with verse 18.] For the sight of Lazarus in Bethany having induced many to believe, they might naturally suppose that his appearing openly would produce the same effect in Jerusalem and as they were in full hopes that the kingdom was to be erected at this passover, they could not but think it necessary that all opposers should instantly be convinced and obliged to acknowledge Messiah's title to the throne of his illustrious ancestors.
Our Lord having supped and spent the evening in the company of Lazarus and his two sisters, set forward, probably, the next morning, in his way to Jerusalem. He' sent before two of his disciples to the neighbouring village of Bethphage, with directions to take, for his service, an ass, which they should find tied, and a colt with her, which had never been ridden by any one. They were not to do this by force; but if the owners remonstrated with them on the making this use of their property, they were to reply it was at the command of their Master, who was well known throughout all that neighbourhood, by the distinguished miracle he so lately performed at Bethany,
When the disciples came to Bethphage, they found the ass with its colt as Jesus had said, and immediately set about loosing them; but the owner, happening to be present, reproved them: wherefore, they returned the answer which their Master had put into their mouths, and were suffered to lead both away. The event thus corresponding to the words of Jesus, must have convinced the disciples that he knew every thing, and could influence the wills of men as often as he pleased to exert his power for that purpose.
Jesus had no sooner mounted the colt, than the animal became manageable, thus affording a proof, that not only the elements of nature, the minds of men, and the spirits of the deep, were subject to the commands of the Son of God, but that also his influence extended to the most untractable of the brute creation that are pressed into the service of man. When the multitude saw him mounted, they immediately bethought themselves of shewing him the honours which kings and conquerors obtained in their triumphal entries. For as they all firmly believed that he would take the reins of government into his own hands at this passover, they had a mind to make his entry into Jerusalem have the air of triumph. Accordingly, some spread their garments in the way, others cut down branches off the trees and strewed them in the way, carrying the larger sort on high in procession before Messiah as demonstrations of their joy.
The news of our Lord's approach having reached the city, great numbers of the people, who were come from the country to attend the feast, and who had a favourable opinion of his character, went forth with palm-branches in their hands to welcome Messiah to the capital. When the van of the procession that attended Jesus came to the descent of the mount of Olives, where the royal city first shewed itself, they were met by the multitude from Jerusalem coming up the hill with palmbranches, the symbols of peace, in their hands. At meeting, the latter first saluted their brethren, and cried, Hosanna, blessed is the king of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. When the disciples looked on the royal city, and heard such a multitude of their countrymen proclaiming their Master Messiah, they felt high transports of joy, and answered by returning the salutation, saying, blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
Thus Jesus rode amidst the acclamations and shoutings of the admiring crowd: but we must not imagine that these honours were paid to him by any solicitation of his. The disciples and the multitude did all of their own accord; indeed, for the reasons mentioned, Jesus was passive in the matter, and would neither refuse the title of Messiah, nor reprove the people who offered it, though required to do both by the Pharisees, who had come with the multitude from the town, and were greatly displeased with the homage that was offered to him. [Luke xix. 39.] And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy discipies. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you, that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. This latter clause may signify, either that God would by miracle raise up others to glorify his name, rather than silence should be kept on this occasion, as Dr. Clarke explains it; or that it was a thing altogether impossible to make the multitude hold their peace. But though Jesus did not refuse the honours that were now paid him, he was far from assuming the dignity of an earthly prince, or any state pageantry whatsoever. On the contrary, he humbled himself exceedingly; his riding on an ass being an instance of great meekness and humility, according to what was prophesied of him, Zech. ix. 9. [John xii. 14.] And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, called by the other evangelists a colt, sat thereon; as it is written, fear not, daughter of Sion; bekoid thy king comcih, sitling