The Triumphal Tragedy (Mark 11:1-25)
Several years ago, Jerry, one of my closest friends, went out to the lake with his wife and parents for a day of recreation on the water. As things worked out, my friend Jerry was water skiing behind one boat while his wife and parents were in another. The ski boat pulling Jerry made a loop close to his parent’s boat, and as he passed by them, his wife and mother waved excitedly. Jerry waved back, thinking nothing of it.
As Jerry skied off into the distance, he left behind a tragedy he knew nothing about. His father had been operating their craft and in the manipulation of a turn one of Jerry’s younger sisters had fallen overboard. The father quickly turned around headed the craft close to her, killed the engine, and as the boat drifted alongside, Jerry’s dad jumped into the water to save his daughter.
Unexplainably, both the father and the daughter began to go under. And as they did so, the boat with Jerry’s wife and mother drifted further and further away, and neither of the women knew how to operate the craft. It was just at this moment that Jerry skied close by. Their waves were not just a casual, friendly gesture, but a desperate plea for help. It was not until some time later that Jerry learned that his father and sister had drowned, almost before his eyes, and yet unknown.
Things are not always what they seem. Such was the case with the so-called Triumphal Entry of our Lord Jesus as described by each of the four gospels. On the surface, it was a time of rejoicing and celebration but as that week drew to a close, it was seen in full view as the great tragedy of recorded history.
I have chosen to call this unusual entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem the Triumphal Tragedy, for it was not really a triumph at all. When we study all of the gospel accounts we learn that no one but our Lord grasped the full significance of His actions. The scribes and Pharisees perceived it at the moment as a devastating defeat of their efforts to turn the crowds against Jesus (John 12:19). The multitudes grasped the event as a possible entrance into the Kingdom age, but failed to comprehend the kind of King the Messiah was to be at His first coming, and the nature of His Kingdom (Luke 19:11). The disciples did not understand the meaning of these events either (John 12:16).
The Lord Jesus fully perceived the significance of His actions. While the crowds cheered and lauded Him, Jesus loudly wept as He approached the Holy city (Luke 19:41-44). He knew that He was going to His death (cf. Mark 10:32-34; John 12:7-8), but this was not the reason for His tears. He alone grasped the fact that while the momentary appearance was that Jerusalem was hailing Him as their Messiah-King, He was really being rejected, and that this turning of the nation against Him would lead to their destruction and defeat within a few short years (Luke 19:43-44).
Things are not always what they seem to be. What appears on the surface to be a hearty welcome is, in fact, a harbinger of warning. More than this, the triumphal entry (so-called) was not thrust upon Jesus by His disciples or the crowds; it was a deliberate act of His volition to precipitate the final events of His earthly life, as foreordained from eternity past. He was advancing into the jaws of the lion.
The Background to the Triumphal Entry
John informs us that the triumphal entry occurs a week before the Passover (John 12:1), probably on Sunday.58 This was a festive occasion and the holiday excitement gripped the Holy city. Many preparations had been made,59 and a great many foreigners had made their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Perhaps as many as 110,000 were in the city or its suburbs, six times the normal population.60
On this particular Passover, one name was on the lips of every person—Jesus.
“Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover, to purify themselves. Therefore they were seeking for Jesus, and were saying to one another, as they stood in the temple, ‘What do you think; that He will not come to the feast at all?’ Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if any one knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him” (John 11:55-57).
One event in recent days, more than any other, brought the focus of attention on Jesus. He had just recently raised Lazarus from the dead in Bethany, not two miles from Jerusalem, the citadel of opposition to Him. The scribes and Pharisees not only denounced Him, but determined to put both He and Lazarus to death (John 11:46-50; 12:10). Word had gone out that anyone who knew the whereabouts of Jesus should report it to them (John 11:57). Many of those who thronged the way to welcome Jesus to Jerusalem did so because of the report of the raising of Lazarus (John 12:17-18). In such an atmosphere, electric with excitement and expectation (and danger), the highly symbolic act of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem riding on the back of a young donkey could not be taken lightly. After the feeding of the 5,000, the Savior had to send His disciples away and strongly resist the efforts of men to make Him their King (Mark 6:45-46; John 6:15). Here these efforts are not refused; indeed, Jesus encouraged them.
The Triumphal Entry
During His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus revealed a precise sense of timing. Earlier in His ministry, His brothers had, with tongue in cheek, urged Jesus to prove Himself in Jerusalem (John 7:2-5). Jesus refused such a public act for it was not ‘His time’ (John 7:6). Finally, at the triumphal entry, His time had come. It was not just any day, but ‘His day,’ the day predicted long before by the prophet, Daniel.61
The Master sent two of His disciples to a nearby village to bring the donkey and her colt.62 It may well be that Jesus knew the owner of these animals. The disciples found the animals just as they had been told, and when they gave the explanation given by the Master, they were allowed to borrow them. Mark, more than any of the other Gospel writers, makes much of the matter of the borrowing of the two animals.63
On the other hand, Mark does not emphasize the fact that this act of the Lord Jesus was a deliberate fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Matthew (21:4-5) and John (12:14-15) tell us that this is a precise fulfillment of this portion of the book of Zechariah:
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).
Gentile readers would not be as impressed with this prophetic fulfillment as would those of Jewish descent.
Mark does draw our attention to the response of the crowds to this dramatic entrance of Jesus into the Holy City. We would gather from the combined information of the gospel accounts that there was the converging of two crowds. One was the crowd that came into the city of Jerusalem with Jesus from Bethany (John 12:9). The other, the multitudes who streamed out of the city of Jerusalem to meet Him as He came (John 12:12-13).
Some placed their garments on the back of the colt, for Jesus to sit upon, while others placed theirs in the path for the animals to walk upon (Mark 11:8). Branches64 were cut or torn off of the surrounding trees to spread on the path (Mark 11:8) and possibly to be waved in the air.65
It seems almost incredible that anyone could suggest that this had no messianic significance.66 Jehu was proclaimed King accompanied with men placing their clothes under him (2 Kings 9:13). The welcome given the Lord Jesus parallels that given to military heroes of ancient times.67
In addition to these things, Jesus was heralded in terms that could only be called messianic. He was greeted with what was in essence a Hallel Psalm, one of the series (Psalm 113-118) sung at Passover. Mark makes specific reference to Psalm 118:25.68 This Psalm is one of the six Psalms most often quoted or made reference to in the New Testament.
In the expression “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (verse 9), we find that Jesus is hailed as One Who has come as a divine representative (at the least), and in the following statement, “Blessed is the coming Kingdom of our father David,” we see that it is the establishment of the Kingdom which is foremost in the minds of the multitude. ‘Hosanna in the highest’ reflects the angelic announcement of the Messiah’s birth (Luke 2:13-14).
I must conclude that the crowds understood the actions of Jesus as a symbolic statement of His identity as Israel’s Messiah. They hailed Him as the coming One, the King of Israel (Luke 19:38). While the crowds were correct to hail Christ as their Messiah, they were wrong in their conception of the mission of His first appearance and of their concept of the nature and timing of the Kingdom. They were correct to hail Him as the coming King as Zechariah 9:9 promised, but they failed to appreciate the significance of His riding upon the donkey, symbolic of a non-military and humble mission. Here, as in John chapter six, they wish to make Jesus King because of their mistaken hopes of what that Kingdom will be like.
To be more precise, the error of the crowds was at least three-fold. First of all, their acclaim was almost totally based upon and motivated by the miracles which He had performed (Luke 19:37; John 12:9). It was not His words (His teaching and doctrine), but His works that motivated many to receive Jesus as Messiah.
Second, they failed to grasp the proper priorities for the coming Kingdom. Ultimately, the Messiah would establish a physical, earthly Kingdom, but primarily this Kingdom was based upon a spiritual renewal. The cheering crowds thought only of the material dimensions of the Kingdom to the exclusion of the spiritual; only the external aspects and not the internal.
Third, they were completely in error as to how the Kingdom was to be established. They thought it would be accomplished by military might and revolution, rather than by rejection, suffering, and a humiliating death for the Messiah, Who was to die as the Lamb of God for the sins of His people (cf. Isaiah 52:13–53:12).
Why then did Jesus carry through with this mission? Let me suggest several reasons.
(1) To fulfill prophecy concerning Himself. The gospel accounts stress that this act was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, such as those in Zechariah 9:9 and Malachi 3:1.
(2) To safely enter the city of Jerusalem. It may not seem necessary, but the word was out to disclose the location of Jesus as soon as He appeared (John 11:57). Had Jesus attempted to enter Jerusalem secretly, He could have been quietly disposed of. Entering as He did, the religious leaders could not so much as lift a finger against Him (John 12:19).
(3) To publicly and symbolically give testimony to His identity as Messiah. Neither the crowds nor the religious leaders missed the implications of His triumphal entry.
(4) A proclamation of the kind of Kingdom which He was to establish. Jesus did not march proudly into the city of Jerusalem as a strutting military figure, nor did He ride on a spirited stallion. He rode on a donkey, symbolic of his humble peace-making assignment. This aspect of the triumphal entry was totally overlooked. Only the later events of the week would make this clear, and then the cheering crowds would turn their backs on the Messiah.
(5) To provoke the opposition and precipitate His own execution on the appointed day. Nothing could have been more of a catalyst to the opposing forces than this bold public proclamation. Now something had to be done, and fast!
The Cleansing of theTemple
The irony of the sequence of events in the last week of our Lord’s earthly ministry is striking. The grandiose expectations of the multitudes would have inclined them to expect Jesus to muster His forces and launch an all-out attack on the military garrison in Jerusalem. Instead, Jesus marched into the temple and launched a surprise attack against the religious establishment. The Jews hoped for an attack against Rome. Jesus waged war against ‘religion.’
Mark alone informs us that Jesus’ attack upon the religious system was not spontaneous, but highly calculated, just as His triumphal entry. In verse 11 we are told that upon His arrival in Jerusalem, Jesus went immediately to the temple. There He looked about and, since the hour was already late, He returned to Bethany with the twelve. While an attack upon the money changers was possible on this occasion, it would not have the impact that it would have on the following day during peak ‘business hours.’
Returning the next day, He went into the temple and single-handedly71 purged it, just as at the outset of His ministry. There is little doubt that Jesus is attacking the highest religious authorities in the most sensitive spot—their pocketbooks. Annas and Caiaphas certainly were at the bottom of this corrupt operation.72
As I understand this decisive attack of the Savior, it was against three evils. First, it was an attack against a den of thieves (verse 17). Here our Lord reveals divine displeasure at the way men were making religion a front for money-making. It was necessary, of course, for the pilgrims and sojourners who had traveled from afar to Jerusalem to purchase sacrificial animals and to exchange foreign currency into coinage for the temple tax. It was not necessary to do this in the temple precincts and surely not at prices which were exorbitant.
Edersheim73 informs us that on the Mount of Olives there were four shops, especially for the sale of sacrificial animals and related needs. But if one bought an animal there he would have to pay a fee at the temple to have his animal inspected. In addition it is likely that there was collusion between the owners of the temple bazaar and the inspectors so that many of the animals purchased outside of the temple were rejected as unfit. When all was said and done, it was easier, if not cheaper, to purchase animals at the temple bazaar which were assured to have been already inspected and found acceptable for sacrificial offerings. It would appear that these animals were sold at an inflated price, the profits being divided between its high priestly owners and the market proprietors.
Also there was the need to exchange foreign currency into Tyrian coinage in order to pay the annual temple tax (Exodus 30:13-16). The Tyrian shekel was the closest available equivalent to the old Hebrew shekel. Duly certified places of currency exchange were provided throughout the provinces and regulated by Law. A certain margin of profit was allowed. But as the Passover drew near, these provincial places of exchange were closed down, perhaps two weeks prior to Passover.74 After this, the only convenient place of exchange was at the temple bazaar in the temple precincts.
Jesus’ objection to this practice was that it was a profiteering enterprise often at the expense of those least able to afford it. Religious activity was a pretext for profit-making. This was not the justice and mercy which God desired of His people.
The second objection was to the desecration of the holy place. The sight, sound and smell of sheep and cattle filled the air. Such was not the atmosphere for worship. The bickering and bartering which could be heard was a far cry from the praises and adoration in which God delighted.
This desecration was not only the fault of the religious leaders, but of the masses. The rebuke of Jesus was fully in accord with existing Jewish regulations which restricted the use of this part of the temple. Specifically, people were forbidden to pass this way, using it as a shortcut.75 No doubt, this is why Jesus forbade people to carry goods through the temple (Mark 11:16). The Lord was acting fully in accord with the Old Testament revelation as well (cf. Zechariah 14:21; Hosea 9:15).
The third objection (and one clearly pointed out only by Mark) was that the temple bazaar denied the worship of the Gentiles:
“And He began to teach and say to them, ‘Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? But you have made it a robber’s den’” (Mark 11:17).
This quotation is taken from Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11. The context of Isaiah’s words specifically refers to the worship of the Gentiles which will occur in the future (Isaiah 56:6-8). And yet the place in the temple precincts where the bazaar was set up was the only place where the Gentiles were permitted. How could the nations worship God in this circus?
What was the meaning of this temple cleansing?
(1) It revealed that God was more angered by the religion of Israel, His people, than the political damnation of Rome. He did not attack the Roman garrison, but the religious abomination in the temple. By this He revealed the true purpose of His first coming. It was not to throw off the shackles of Rome, but to restore true religion to the nation Israel. To put it in other terms, it was not to bring about political and social reform, but spiritual renewal and restoration.
Our Lord’s actions in cleansing the temple were intended to reveal to all Israel that the real enemy was within and not without. The implications of the triumphal entry are further pressed upon the multitudes within Israel. His Kingdom is not the kind which they supposed. He has come, not to deal with the oppressors of Rome, but the opponents of true religion.
(2) It was designed to further precipitate the final conflict and crises between Himself and the religious system of His day. The scribes and Pharisees were white hot with anger and were ready to attempt any plan that might rid the nation of this ‘menace’ (Mark 11:18).
It is only Matthew who contrasts the sham of superficial religiosity in the bazaar with the realization of God’s purpose for the temple (Matthew 21:14-17). Here we see, in part, what true religion should be like. In place of the sound of bartering voices there was the chorus of children’s voices singing praises to God in the person of Jesus Christ (verse 15). Instead of profiteering there is the physical ministry of healing at the hands of the Savior (verse 14). Rather than the sound of sheep and cattle, there is the voice of the Savior teaching men truths about God (Luke 19:47-48).
The Cursing of the Fig Tree
The whole matter of the triumphal entry and the cleansing of the temple can best be summarized in the symbolic lesson of the cursing of the fig tree. It is deliberately woven into the fabric of the account of the temple cleansing, to show us that this narrative is but one piece of cloth.
Granted, the emphasis of this incident (as discussed between Jesus and His disciples in verses 20-25) is upon the power of the prayer of faith. But this is only because the disciples were not able to grasp its deepest significance until after the Savior’s death and resurrection (cf. John 12:16).
The barren fig tree strikingly portrayed the condition of the nation Israel as Jesus saw it. There was the outward profession and the promise of fruit (as indicated by the presence of leaves on the fig tree76), but upon closer evaluation this promise was empty.
Like the leaves of the fig tree, the nation appeared to hunger and thirst after righteousness and the coming of the Kingdom of God. But behind all of this religious flurry of acclaim and activity, there was no real fruit or repentance. There was only the selfish hope of the military rout of Rome and the establishment of a Kingdom that meant the absence of worry and work (cf. John 6:26,34, etc.).
Again, like the barren fig tree, there was at the temple a great deal of religious activity. But it was not centered upon the worship of God, but upon the self-enhancement at some of the expense of others.
This triumphal tragedy contrasted God’s Kingdom (and His King) against the backdrop of the religious exercises and expectations of the nation. It was a tragic misunderstanding that only our Lord grasped. It was our Lord setting His face toward Jerusalem, walking in the path of the cross, sovereignly exposing more and more of Himself, and in the process, bringing about His own execution because men will not have salvation God’s way, but their own.
There is no better word than ‘tragedy’ to describe this ‘triumphal entry’ of Jesus Christ into the Holy city. What has every appearance of bringing joy and blessing is, in fact, the beginning of the end, the promise of certain judgment and destruction.
As I have considered this passage, several distressing conclusions have occurred to me. Let me share them with you. It was not pagan Rome (ultimately) that rejected and put the Savior to death, but the pious religion of Jesus’ day. Without any hesitation, I will agree that Rome had a hand in the death of the Savior, but it did not instigate His death; it only apathetically went along with it (cf. John 19:12).
All too often we concern ourselves with loudmouth atheists who boldly refute the truths of Christianity. These people are a problem, but the most dangerous of all is the religious deceiver. Religion is the opiate of the people—the kind of religion displayed at the triumphal entry. Christianity and religion are diametrically opposed to each other.
While true religion (Christianity) must express itself in social concerns, that is not its essence. Today, even as 2,000 years ago, religious leaders are deceiving countless religious people into supposing that religion is to focus upon revolution and reform, upon political activism, rather than upon repentance and renewal.
My friend, may I ask you this question with all sincerity? Are you a Christian, or are you just religious? A Christian recognizes that God has shown every man (and me, in particular) to be a sinner. A Christian trusts not in his own religious activity or good deeds, but in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was bruised for our iniquities; He bore the penalty of our sins. His righteousness makes us acceptable to God. May God spare us from religion.
I am now convinced that Jesus was not put to death only by the religious leaders of His day. It has finally occurred to me that it was not just the religious leaders of Israel, but the multitudes who were responsible for the death of Messiah. Over and over we have seen in the gospels that the religious leaders desired to put Jesus to death but were helpless because of the popular support of the masses. That support appears to be greater than ever in the ‘triumphal entry,’ but in fact, it is shown to be ill-founded, temporary, and illusory. As the real character of the King and His Kingdom become clear in this last week of the Savior’s life and public ministry the support of the crowd begins to diminish and disappear. Their support was based upon their own pre-conceived conceptions of the Kingdom. They wanted nothing to do with His Kingdom. When it becomes apparent that He will not rise up against Rome; when it is evident that Jesus is angered more at their religion than with Rome, they will stand aside and let the religious leaders have their way with Him.
I am convinced that this is also characteristic of our own time. Yes, there are many false prophets with false messages, but the sad reality is that people are attracted to them because they proclaim what the masses want to hear:
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
(3) Finally, be on guard to any religion that receives the acclaim of the masses. The multitudes heralded Jesus as Messiah, but they did not receive Him as God’s Messiah in the final analysis. My friend, there are many today who have nice words for Jesus, a good man, a great teacher, a wonderful example, a social reformer, but the masses do not regard themselves as sinners, nor the Lord Jesus as the suffering Savior. Here is what separates the men from the boys, the sheep from the goats, the saints from the synthetic: our response to the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ.
I have been interested to observe in the newspaper these past several weeks the dispute between the Methodist church and one of its few evangelical fundamental pastors. Isn’t it interesting that the Methodist church can be so tolerant on the issue of homosexuality, so liberated in the matter of ordaining women to the ministry, and so opposed to orthodoxy in the matter of salvation. Beware, I say, of popular Christianity, so called, for “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
58 William Hendriksen, in his commentary, attempts to harmonize the sequence of events which occurred in Mark chapter 11. William Hendriksen, The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977), pp. 760-762.
59 “A month before the feast (on the 15th Adar) bridges and roads were put in repair, and sepulchres whitened, to prevent accidental pollution to the pilgrims. Then, some would select this out of the three great annual feasts for the tithing of their flocks and herds, which, in such case, had to be done two weeks before the Passover; while others would fix on it as the time for going up to Jerusalem before the feast ‘to purify themselves’—that is, to undergo the prescribed purification in any case of levitical defilement.” Alford Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), I, p. 367.
60 “The Passover festival at Jerusalem in the days before the temple was destroyed was an impressive occasion. Perhaps the only comparable event in the modern world is the annual Haj to Mecca. From all over the Eastern Mediterranean world, wherever Jews had settled or foreigners had embraced the Jewish religion, they came each year. Nobody knows exactly how many came. Ancient reports range from half a million to twelve million! A more conservative modern estimate reckons that Jerusalem, quite a small town by modern standards (perhaps 30,000 inhabitants), was swollen to six times its normal population at Passover time. The city itself could not hold them, and they filled the surrounding villages, while large numbers set up tents outside the city.” R. T. France, I Came to Set the Earth on Fire (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1976), p. 126. It should be noted, however, that Joachim Jeremias (on whose calculations France rests his estimate of 180,000 people) later suggested that this estimate might still be a bit too high. Cf. Joachim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1969), p. 84.
61 Sir Robert Anderson by a careful analysis of the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 calculated that Jesus, to the very day, fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy concerning the appearance of the Messiah. Dr. Alva McClain has written, “April 6, 32 A.D., therefore, is fixed definitely as the end of the era of the first 69 Weeks; and according to Daniel’s prophecy, it should mark the very day of Messiah’s manifestation as the Prince of Israel. Without attempting to enter into the clear but intricate chronological calculations set forth by Anderson in his book, The Coming Prince (Pages 95-105), I shall simply state his conclusion that April 6, 32 A.D., was the tenth of Nisan, that momentous day on which our Lord, in fulfilment of Messianic prophecy, rode up to Jerusalem on the “foal of an ass” and offered Himself as the Prince and King of Israel.” Alva J. McClain, Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969), p. 20.
62 “The houses were usually built around an open court, which was connected with the street by a tunnel passageway. The ass and colt were tied at this tunnel-door on the street which crooked around the house. They would recognize immediately, without difficulty, the place and the animals, designed to reveal a knowledge more than human in Jesus.” J. W. Shepard, The Christ of the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939), p. 479.
Lane feels that the account of the untying of the colt is an allusion to the prophecy of Genesis 49:11: “The apparently disproportionate length at which the incident of the untying of the colt is related (verses 1-6) suggests that far more is involved than merely the preparation for the entry. The attention given to this phase of the action and, the explicit reference to “a colt tied,” with its allusion to Gen. 49:11, points to a deeper significance supplied by the Oracle of Judah, Gen. 49:8-12. The allusion to Gen. 49:11 confirms the messianic character which the animal bears in Ch. 11:1-10. It also indicates that the untying of the colt was itself a messianic sign, although it was not recognized as such at that time.” William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), p. 395.
64 “The use of palm branches (Jn. 12:13) may have a special message, for these were not only a token of rejoicing (Lev. 23:40; Neh. 8:15; Rev. 7:9), but they may have carried political significance, since they had been used at the feast of tabernacles when Judas Maccabeus’ recapture of the temple from the Syrians was celebrated (2 Macc. 10:7).” Everett F. Harrison, A Short Life of Christ (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968), p. 168.
66 “A note of jubilation and excitement is evident in the text. Yet the action described does not appear to possess messianic significance, for there is no explicit acknowledgment of Jesus’ majesty in the acclamation of verses 9-10. It was a brief moment of enthusiasm outside the city walls which would have been appropriate to a royal enthronement, but was scarcely distinguishable from the exultation which characterized other groups of pilgrims when the City of David, with its magnificent Temple, came into view.” Lane, Mark, pp. 396-397.
67 “The spreading of the garment upon the way is similar to the royal salute given to Jehu (2 Kings 9:12f.), or the gesture of profound respect shown to Cato of Utica when he was about to leave his soldiers (Plutarch, Cato Minor 7). The reference to the branches of green and the antiphonal singing recalls the entry into Jerusalem of Simon, the last of the five Hasmonean brothers, on a triumphal occasion (1 Macc. 13:51).” Ibid., p. 396.
68 “The rabbis interpreted Ps. 118:25f. with reference to David or to the final redemption, and this understanding appears to explain the reference to “the kingdom of our father David” in verse 10. The substance of the antiphonal response is provided in the fourteenth of the Eighteen Benedictions (Palestinian recension) when prayer was offered daily for the restoration of the kingdom of David. The final Hosanna (Save us, thou who dwellest in the highest) is an appeal for God to inaugurate the era of salvation.” Ibid., pp. 397-398.
70 “… although it is true that “Hosanna!” was originally a cry for heip, it was later on used as a “cry of rejoicing with which a sovereign was honoured” (Van Leewen, at Mark xi. 8-11). Major correctly explains as follows: “The cry Hosanna is the equivalent of our English ‘God save the King’ … It could only be used in saluting a sovereign or his vice-gerent” (op. cit. p. 139). Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), p. 486.
71 “If it be asked how he could possibly succeed in clearing out such a huge nest of commercialism unaided, several things need to be borne in mind. His reputation as a performer of signs and wonders made men cautious about opposing him. Further, with right on his side, it was difficult to resist the indignation that flamed from his eyes and sounded from a voice that brooked no opposition or delay. Zeal for God’s house was consuming him. Again, this figure had just elicited a tremendous demonstration of enthusaism from the masses as he entered the city. This would make even the authorities hesitant to oppose him.” Ibid., p. 171.
72 “On the other hand, there can be little doubt, that this market was what in Rabbinic writings is styled ‘the Bazaars of the sons of Annas’ (Chanuyoth beney Chanan), the sons of that High-Priest Annas, who is so infamous in New Testament history. When we read that the Sanhedrin, forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem, transferred its meeting place from ‘the Hall of Hewn Stones’ (on the south side of the Court of the Priests, and therefore partly within the Sanctuary itself) to ‘the Bazaars,’ and then afterwards to the City, the inference is plain, that these Bazaars were those of the sons of Annas the High-Priest, and that they occupied part of the Temple-court; in short, that the Temple-market and the Bazaars of the sons of Annas are identical.”
“Josephus describes Annaz (or Ananua), the son of the Annas of the New Teatament, as ‘a great hoarder up of money, ‘very rich, and as despoiling by open violence the common priests of their official revenues. The Talmud also records the curse which a distinguished Rabbi of Jerusalem (Abba Shaul) pronounced upon the High-Priestly families (including that of Annas), who were themselves High Priests, their sons treasurers (Gizbarin), their sons-in-law assistant-treasurers (Ammarkalin), while their servants beat the people with sticks.” Alford Edersheim, Life and Times, I, pp. 371-372.
74 “In a country where the circulating currency consisted primarily of Roman money, provision had to be made for the Jews to pay the annual Temple tax “after the shekel of the Sanctuary” as commanded in Ex. 30:13-16. In the first century all Temple dues had to be paid in Tyrian coinage, since the Tyrian shekel was the closest available equivalent to the old Hebrew shekel. To make the necessary exchange the tables of the money changers were set up in the provinces on Adar 15, and in the Temple forecourt on Adar 25 (M. Shekalim 1. 3), five days before the first of Nisan, when the tax was due. The slight surcharge permitted in the exchange (1/24 of a shekel) was intended to cover loss resulting from the wear of coins in circulation (M. Shekalim 1. 7).” Lane, Mark, p. 405.
75 “Ironically, Jesus’ spirited protest entailed a rigorous application of existing provisions, which prohibited anyone from entering the Temple Mount with a staff, sandals or his wallet, and which specifically denied the right to make of the forecourt “a short by-path” (M. Berachoth IX. 5; TB Berachoth 54a). The reference to the vessels of the Temple in verse 16, in conjunction with the expulsion of the merchants in verse 15, indicates that Jesus was acting in fulfillment of the obligation laid upon him by Zech. 14:21: “and every vessel in Jerusalem and Judah shall be sacred to the Lord of hosts and there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day.” Ibid., p. 406.
76 “In the region referred to here in Matthew, the early or smaller figs, growing from the sprouts of the previous year, begin to appear at the end of March and are ripe in May or June. The later and much larger figs that develop on the new or spring shoots are gathered from August to October. It is important to point out that the earlier figs, with which we are here concerned, begin to appear simultaneously with the leaves. Sometimes, in fact, they even precede the leaves.” Hendriksen, Matthew, p. 774.