Tell the people of Jerusalem, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt’ (Matthew 12:5 TNLT).
The entrance by Jesus into Jerusalem on the week of his death is often referred to as his triumphant entry, and rightfully so. According to the gospel narrative, Jesus was in complete control for the Father had entrusted all authority into his hands (John 13:1-4).
The Pharisees had declared; “There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!” (John 12:19, TNLT)
Jesus, however, did not come as a political or militant conqueror. He came as the meek and gentle Savior. Christ entered Jerusalem as the King of Israel according to the scriptures, and as he was approaching the city, Jesus began to weep.
And when he was come near, HE BEHELD THE CITY, AND WEPT OVER IT, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now THEY ARE HID FROM THINE EYES. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; BECAUSE THOU KNEWEST NOT THE TIME OF THY VISITATION. (Luke 19:41-44)
Jesus looked upon Jerusalem and wept over it because she had missed the time of her visitation and her desolation was near. Jesus then came to the temple, and his presence caused quite a stir among the people and incited the politically and religiously corrupt temple authorities.
WHEN JESUS ENTERED JERUSALEM, THE WHOLE CITY WAS STIRRED AND ASKED, “WHO IS THIS?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”JESUS ENTERED THE TEMPLE COURTS and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “IT IS WRITTEN,” He said to them, “‘MY HOUSE WILL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’BUT YOU ARE MAKING IT A DEN OF ROBBERS.’” The blind and the lame came to him AT THE TEMPLE, AND HE HEALED THEM. But when THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND THE TEACHERS OF THE LAW saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” THEY WERE INDIGNANT. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “HAVE YOU NEVER READ, “‘from the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” (Matthew 21:10-16).
These children were praising God and declaring that Jesus is the Son of David. The title, Son of David, is a reference belonging to the Messiah. These children in the temple were praising God because the Messiah was there in their presence! This infuriated the temple authorities.
After this, Jesus left the temple and the city and went to Bethany where he stayed the night. The next morning he returned to the city. As he approached the city, the Bible tells us he was hungry, and saw a fig tree some distance away.
When he came to the fig tree, he found no fruit on it, only leaves. Jesus then said to the fig tree; “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever.” Immediately the fig tree began to withered away.
The cursing of the fig tree, would later serve as a parable to the disciples of the destruction which was soon to come on Jerusalem and the temple because of the wickedness therein. The temple authorities were not seeking God and had turned that which was supposed to have been a house of prayer into a den of thieves.
Jesus cursed the fig tree which had leaves only and no fruit on it, and this coincides with what was going on within the temple, which had a beautiful appearance but no fruit!
Next we read the following:
Jesus ENTERED THE TEMPLE COURTS, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then WHY DIDN’T YOU BELIEVE HIM?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—WE ARE AFRAID OF THE PEOPLE, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. (Matthew 21:23-27)
The chief priests and the elders had no desire to find the truth but only wanted to be in control. Yet, God was taking that control from them and they didn’t even see it coming, because they were blind leaders. On the heels of the question “Who gave you authority?” Jesus then gives them the following parable:
“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “truly I tell you, THE TAX COLLECTORS AND PROSTITUTES ARE ENTERING THE KINGDOM OF GOD AHEAD OF YOU. FOR JOHN CAME TO YOU TO SHOW YOU THE WAY OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him. (Matthew 21:28-32)
Notice that Jesus addresses their question, “who gave you authority?”, by holding them accountable to the preaching of John the Baptist, who was sent to reveal the Messiah to Israel (see John 1:31). Next, Jesus spoke another parable to them.
“Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a wine press in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. When the HARVEST TIME approached, he sent his servants to the tenants TO COLLECT HIS FRUIT.”
Remember, the fig tree Jesus cursed, had NO FRUIT on it. Jesus continues:
“The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘THIS IS THE HEIR. Come, LET’S KILL HIM AND TAKE HIS INHERITANCE.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “Therefore, when THE OWNER OF THE VINEYARD COMES, what will he do to THOSE TENANTS? He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to OTHER TENANTS, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”Jesus said to them, “HAVE YOU NEVER READ IN THE SCRIPTURES: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? “Therefore I tell you that THE KINGDOM OF GOD WILL BE TAKEN AWAY FROM YOU and given to a people who will produce ITS FRUIT. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” When THE CHIEF PRIEST AND THE PHARISEES heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. THEY LOOKED FOR A WAY TO ARREST HIM, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.”
Christ is the Son to whom the inheritance belongs, and they to whom he was speaking were the evil tenants. Jesus had entered into Jerusalem just days before his death and resurrection. He came as the King of Israel and entered the temple according to the scriptures. The temple authorities opposed him and became indignant at the praise of children praising him as the Messiah. They challenged his authority because they did not repent and believe when his forerunner, John the Baptist, testified of him. They had rejected the counsel of God by refusing to be baptized by John the Baptist (Luke 7:30) and now they were plotting to kill him.
They were the evil tenants in the temple which they had corrupted. They did not recognize the God whom they claimed to represent even when he entered the temple and stood in their midst. Instead, they challenged his authority.
Jesus then left the temple with His disciples. As they were leaving the temple, his disciples began to point out the splendor and the magnificent stones of the temple. Jesus responded by telling them “not one stone will be left upon another.” Afterwards, he told them of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.
THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE
I don’t think many, especially those who have been influenced by the teaching of premillennial dispensationism, have made the connection between Jesus’ words concerning the temple in Matthew 24:1-2 and his words in verse 15.
In verses 1&2 we read the following: And Jesus went out, and departed from THE TEMPLE: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of THE TEMPLE. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, which shall not be thrown down.
In verse 15 we read the following:
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, STAND IN THE HOLY PLACE, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)…
Verse 15 has often been interpreted as a reference to the anti-Christ in a third Jewish temple in our yet future. However, there is nothing in the flow of thought to indicate that Jesus is referring to any other temple other than the one he referenced in verses 1-2. If the disciples were attentive to his words, the then standing temple is the one they would have understood to be referred to in verse 15. In verses 1&2, Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple and beginning in verse 15, he describes how the temple will be destroyed.
Jesus says, “when you see it,” referring to those during that generation who would see the destruction of the temple. He did not say, “When THEY see it” referring to another temple at another time.
In describing the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, Jesus says, “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree.” Jesus was referring to the fig tree he had recently cursed which had no fruit on it, echoing that which was fresh in the minds of his disciples. The fruitless fig tree which Jesus had cursed was a parable of the city of Jerusalem and the then standing temple.
The old system was being removed, and the new was coming, and God was the one doing it. By cursing the fig tree, Jesus was also instructing his disciples to look to God and not to any man made temple. Jesus said, “have faith in God!” They did not need the mediation of the temple service, or those who served in the temple, for the Kingdom of God had come in and through Christ.
The night Jesus was betrayed by Judas, he stood trial before Caiaphas the high priest and witnesses were sought after so that they could put Jesus to death, yet they found none. Finally they found two false witnesses who said, “This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.”
However, Jesus never said such a thing. Instead, Jesus had said, “destroy this temple (a reference to His body) and I will raise it in three days.” (see John 2)
At this false accusation, the high priest arose, and said to Jesus, “Answerest thou nothing? What is it which these witness against thee? ”But Jesus held his peace, and the high priest then said to Him, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.”
In response to this authoritative demand, Jesus says, “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
Everyone in the room understood that this was Messianic language, and that Jesus had just declared that he is the Messiah, the Son of God, the King of Israel.
In response to Jesus’ declaration that he indeed is the Messiah, the high priest then tore his priestly garment – an offence which was punishable by death under the Law. In the presence of Jesus, the King of Israel, Caiaphas had nullified his priesthood
At this Point there was only one true high Priest standing in the room, and they did not know him. They did not know that Jesus was both the lamb of God and the high priest who would offer himself without spot to God.
Jesus was then accused of blasphemy by the one who had just nullified the old priesthood in the presence of the new!
Early the next morning, the Jewish leaders delivered Jesus over into the hands of Pilate, the Roman governor. As Jesus stood before him, Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus responded to Pilate saying, “it is just as you have said.”
Then the chief priests accused Jesus of many things in the presence of Pilate, but Jesus said nothing in response. Pilate then turned to Jesus as said, “Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee.”
Jesus remained silent and this astounded Pilate.
Shortly thereafter, Pilate asked the mob who had gathered there that day, “Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? Pilate knew that the chief priests had delivered Jesus over to him because they were envious of Jesus.
Pilate then brings Jesus before the Jews gathered there that morning, and as they beckon for the customary release of the prisoner at Passover (this time it was Barabbas), Pilate asked the people, “Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?”
The Bible says that he asked the people this because he knew the priests were envious of Jesus. The chief priests then persuaded the people to to ask that Barabbas be released. Pilate then asked the people, “What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?” Then they cried out, “CRUCIFY HIM!”
Jesus had entered Jerusalem as the King of Israel, he had cleansed the temple and pronounced judgment on their leaders who were the fruitless tenants. He had stood trial before the high priest who nullified the old priesthood in his presence, and as he stood trial before a Gentile governor, he was rejected by the Jews who were turned against him by their leaders who vowed their allegiance to Caesar, the worldly King.
Consider the significance of the moment.
And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he (Pilate) saith unto THE JEWS, Behold your King! But they cried out, away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I CRUCIFY YOUR KING? The chief priests answered, WE HAVE NO KING BUT CAESAR.
Pilate, caught in the middle, had already asked Jesus the question, “are you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33). Jesus answered Pilate, “Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?” After another brief question and statement by Pilate, Jesus says, “My kingdom is NOT OF THIS WORLD: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered TO THE JEWS: but now is MY KINGDOM NOT FROM HENCE” (v.36).