46But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.
46 Verse 46. They sought to lay hands on him, they feared the
multitude] Restraining and preventing grace is an excellent
blessing, particularly where it leads to repentance and salvation;
but he who abstains from certain evils, only through fear of
scandal or punishment, has already committed them in his heart,
and is guilty before God. The intrepidity of our Lord is worthy
of admiration and imitation; in the very face of his most
inveterate enemies, he bears a noble testimony to the truth,
reproves their iniquities, denounces the Divine judgments, and, in
the very teeth of destruction, braves danger and death! A true
minister of Christ fears nothing but God, when his glory is
concerned: a hireling fears every thing, except Him whom he ought
This last journey of our Lord to Jerusalem is a subject of great
importance; it is mentioned by all the four evangelists, and has
been a subject of criticism and cavil to some unsanctified minds.
He has been accused of "attempting, by this method, to feel how
far the populace were disposed to favour his pretensions in
establishing himself as a king in the land; or, at least, by his
conduct in this business, he gave much cause for popular
seditions." Every circumstance in the case refutes this calumny.
1. His whole conduct had proved that his kingdom was not of this
world, and that he sought not the honour that cometh from man.
2. He had in a very explicit manner foretold his own premature
death, and particularly at this time.
3. It is evident, from what he had said to his disciples, that he
went up to Jerusalem at this time for the express purpose of being
sacrificed, and not of erecting a secular kingdom.
4. What he did at this time was to fulfil a declaration of God
delivered by two prophets, upwards of 700 years before, relative
to his lowliness, poverty, and total deadness to all secular rule
and pomp. See Isa 62:11; Zec 9:9.
5. All the time he spent now in Jerusalem, which was about five
days, he spent in teaching, precisely in the same way he had done
for three years past; nor do we find that he uttered one maxim
dissimilar to what he formerly taught, or said a word calculated
to produce any sensation on the hearts of the populace, but that
of piety towards God; and in the parable of the man and his two
sons, the husbandmen and the vineyard, he spoke in such a way to
the rulers of the people as to show that he knew they were
plotting his destruction; and that, far from fleeing from the
face of danger, or strengthening his party against his enemies, he
was come to wait at the foot of the altar till his blood should be
poured out for the sin of the world!
6. Had he affected any thing of a secular kind, he had now the
fairest opportunity to accomplish his designs. The people had
already received him as Jesus the prophet; now they acknowledge
him as the Christ or MESSIAH, and sing the hosannah to him, as
immediately appointed by Heaven to be their deliverer.
7. Though, with the character of the Messiah, the Jews had
connected that of secular royalty, and they now, by spreading
their clothes in the way, strewing branches, &c., treat him as a
royal person, and one appointed to govern the kingdom; yet of this
he appears to take no notice, farther than to show that an
important prophecy was thus fulfilled: he went as usual into the
temple, taught the people pure and spiritual truths, withdrew at
night from the city, lodged in private at Mount Olivet; and thus
most studiously and unequivocally showed that his sole aim was to
call the people back to purity and holiness, and prepare them for
that kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,
which he was about, by his passion, death, resurrection,
ascension, and the mission of the Holy Spirit, to set up in the
8. Could a person who worked such miracles as he was in the daily
habit of working-miracles which proved he possessed unlimited
power and unerring wisdom, need subterfuges, or a colouring
for any design he wished to accomplish? He had only to put forth
that power essentially resident in himself, and all resistance to
his will must be annihilated. In short, every circumstance of the
case shows at once the calumny and absurdity of the charge. But,
instead of lessening, or tendering suspicious this or any other
part of our Lord's conduct, it shows the whole in a more luminous
and glorious point of view; and thus the wrath of man praises him.
9. That he was a king, that he was born of a woman and came into
the world for this very purpose, he took every occasion to
declare; but all these declarations showed that his kingdom was
spiritual: he would not even interfere with the duty of the civil
magistrate to induce an avaricious brother to do justice to the
rest of the family, Lu 12:13, when probably a few words from such
an authority would have been sufficient to have settled the
business; yet to prevent all suspicion, and to remove every cause
for offence, he absolutely refused to interfere, and took occasion
from the very circumstance to declaim against secular views,
covetousness, and worldly ambition! O how groundless does every
part of his conduct prove this charge of secular ambition to be!
Such was the spirit of the Master: such must be the spirit of
the disciple. He that will reign with Christ, must be humbled and
suffer with him. This is the royal road. The love of the world,
in its power and honours, is as inconsistent with the spirit of
the Gospel as the love of the grossest vice. If any man love the
world, the love of the Father is not in him. Reader, take
occasion from this refuted calumny, to imitate thy Lord in the
spirituality of his life, to pass through things temporal so as
not to lose those that are eternal, that thou mayest reign with
him in the glory of his kingdom. Amen.