Luke 19:28–48: The Triumphal Entry, Jesus Weeps Over Jerusalem, Jesus Cleanses the Temple
A few passages lumped together that all feature Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem before his crucifixion.
The Triumphal Entry
After the parables/teachings of the last few passages, Jesus moves on toward Jerusalem. While still on the outskirts of the city, he sends a couple of his disciples on a mission:
[He sent two disciples] saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” (verses 30–31)
They go and find the colt just as Jesus had said. As they’re untying it the owner asks what they’re doing, and they follow Jesus’ instruction and say, “The Lord has need of it” (verse 34). They then bring the colt back to Jesus for him to ride, while spreading their cloaks on the ground for the colt to walk over.
The crowd then begins to rejoice and praise God, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (verse 38), which is a quotation from Psalm 118:26.
The Pharisees ask Jesus (whom they call “Teacher”) to rebuke his disciples, but he doesn’t.
He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” (verse 40)
Jesus Weeps Over Jerusalem
It might have surprised the crowd, which is currently praising Jesus as king (and expecting a triumphant entry into the city as its new ruler), that when he sees the city, instead of feeling triumphant he weeps over it:
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (verses 41–44)
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
Once he arrives in the city he heads to the temple, and drives out those who are selling, saying, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers” (verse 46).
He then begins to teach the people, and comes back to the temple every day to do the same. This angers the “chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people” (verse 47), who begin seeking a way to destroy him, but since the people are so enthralled with Jesus’ teachings there is nothing they [feel they can] do.
As mentioned, all of these sections have to do with Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem. He enters like a king (which he is), but also weeping over what the city and its inhabitants are like, and ends with a lesson on what the temple is supposed to be for. He has come to become king, just not in the way any of his followers (or even his enemies) expect.
The Triumphal Entry
Other passages mention a colt and a foal that Jesus’ disciples gathered for him to ride, but that’s not a discrepancy, it’s just different authors sharing differing amounts of detail.
I’m not sure (and don’t know if biblical scholars are sure either) whether Jesus had prearranged for the colt or whether this is some form of miraculous event, but regardless, Jesus is making a statement when he enters Jerusalem in this manner, and the Pharisees recognized it as such: he’s claiming to be a king. (See Zechariah 9:9.)
It’s kind of ironic, to me, that the Pharisees are telling Jesus to rebuke the crowd for honouring Him as a king, and later on that will be the exact basis of their arguments against him in his trial: he’s claiming to be a king, which is treason under Roman law, so he should be put to death.
What is more ironic, and probably what strikes many readers of this passage, is that this same crowd that’s praising Jesus as King will later be shouting for his crucifixion.
Jesus Weeps Over Jerusalem
I’d break this speech up into a few parts, to discuss what Jesus is saying:
|His Words||The Meaning|
|“Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!”||By the time of Jesus, the religious leaders have “lost their way” in terms of the meaning and relevance of the Old Testament Scriptures. The Pharisees and other religious leaders think they know “the things that make for peace,” but they don’t understand that all the rules in the world won’t make us right with God; only Grace will. That’s what Jesus came for—and is exactly why He is going to be rejected.|
|“But now they are hidden from your eyes.”||I’ve posted about this recently in other passages, but there is a combination of God not revealing to His people what He is about to do, along with the people themselves not wanting to see in the first place.|
|“For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you,”||Jerusalem would be destroyed about 30 years later, which is likely the main event this is referring to.|
|“… because you did not know the time of your visitation.”||Again, they don’t understand who Jesus is, or what He has come to do. They are looking forward to a “Messiah,” but their idea of what the Messiah is supposed to do and what Jesus actually came to do are two different things. Overthrowing the Roman Empire is such a small thing compared to what Jesus actually came to do!|
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
Once Jesus enters the city he goes to the temple—I don’t know if he does this right away, or a little while later, but it’s not important—and drives out those who are selling there.
There are various references in the Gospels to “money changers” and people in the temple who are “selling.” They’re there to “serve” folks who are travelling to the temple from afar. If you’re traveling all the way across the country to make your sacrifices it would be cumbersome if not impossible to bring those sacrifices—sheep/goats, birds, even bulls—did the average Israelite have to sacrifice bulls?—with you, so the idea is that you can buy what you need at the temple. And if that’s all that was happening, I don’t think Jesus would have had a problem with it. Instead, what’s happening is that the people of God are finding multiple ways to get ripped off—right within the temple!
- You need to buy sacrificial animals? Right this way, they’re for sale! At quite a markup, I might add.
- Oh, but wait! You can’t use whatever currency you’re used to—you have to use the temple’s currency. The money changers can change it for you—at quite a markup, I might add.
This idea of trying to make a profit off of God’s people who have come to worship is offensive to Jesus. (I remember the first time I attended a church that had a store / gift shop, and how offended I was. Was I young and naive, or were they flouting this exact reaction from Jesus?)
But then Jesus begins teaching the people, and comes back every day to teach them some more. (This is the final week of Jesus’ life, before his Crucifixion, so it was only that final week that he was doing so.) I’d have loved to have been there, to have heard his words (if only I spoke Ancient Hebrew)! The religious leaders, on the other hand, are not so happy about his teachings. Because the people are hanging on Jesus’ words, however, they don’t feel that there’s anything they can do.
Which should tell us, more than anything, how much “authority” they actually had. They were the religious leaders, they did have authority—but not as much as Jesus did, whether they recognized it or not.