Matthew 20:17
The roads are now crowded with people journeying to Jerusalem to celebrate there the great annual Feast of the Passover (see Deuteronomy 16:1-7). Jesus separated his disciples from the crowd, probably by retiring into some sylvan shade to rest, that he might discourse to them privately of his approaching Passion. His discourse evinces -


1. It anticipated his betrayal.

(1) He was able to read its history in that of Ahithophel (cf. 2 Samuel 15:12; Psalm 41:9; Psalm 55:12, 14, 20; John 13:18).

(2) As yet he had not named Judas; but, had Judas already meditated his infamous act, what must have been his feelings when Jesus now said in his hearing, "And the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests and scribes"? No disciple of Christ can apostatize from him unwarned.

2. It anticipated the malignity of the rulers.

(1) Delivery "unto the chief priests and scribes" is a periphrasis for the Sanhedrin, which sat at "Jerusalem" (see Luke 13:33).

(2) The corporate conscience is proverbially elastic; yet who but God could have foreseen that the Sanhedrin would agree to condemn Jesus to death?

(3) The Sanhedrin might "condemn" to death under the Mosaic Law, but the Romans had deprived it of the power to carry out the sentence (see John 17:31). In this note a symptom of the departure of the sceptre or magistracy from Judah, which was to be preceded by the coming of Shiloh (see Genesis 49:10).

3. It anticipated the violence of the Romans.

(1) This is now the third time that Jesus clearly predicted his sufferings (cf. Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:22, 23). But here, for the first time, the part the Gentiles were to take in that tragedy is indicated. It was meet that the Saviour of a sinful world should suffer from the combined malice of Jew and Gentile (see Ephesians 2:16).

(2) "And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock." This was done by Herod and his Roman soldiers (see Luke 23:11).

(3) "And to scourge." This was done by Pilate (see John 19:1). And his soldiers followed up the scourging with many dreadful insults.

(4) "And to crucify." The punishment of the cross was Roman, not Jewish. It was, originally considered, more probable that Jesus should be privately slain or stoned to death in a tumult, as was Stephen. And when he was delivered back to the Jews by Pilate, with permission to judge him according to their Law, it is wonderful that he was not stoned. The foreknowledge that saw it otherwise was manifestly Divine. How little did those cruel actors know that they were offering up the great Sacrifice for the world's salvation! How does God make the wrath of man to praise him!

4. It anticipated his resurrection from the dead.

(1) No fact, originally considered, could be more unlikely than this; yet it is circumstantially predicted, and fulfilled to the letter.

(2) This element in the prediction was assuring to himself. The joy of its anticipation sustained him in his preparatory sufferings. In it he was "straightway glorified" (cf. John 13:31, 32; Hebrews 12:2).

(3) It was also assuring to the disciples. When they heard of his approaching sufferings they were "amazed" and "afraid" (Mark 10:32), and the more so as they "understood none of these things" (Luke 18:34). Yet afterwards they remembered them as most memorable things.


1. Jesus could have avoided his sufferings.

(1) He was not surprised into them. He foresaw them all. Every thorn of his crown was fully in his vision.

(2) He could have avoided Jerusalem. His boldness in going up there amazed his affrighted disciples (Mark 10:32).

(3) At Jerusalem, were he so minded, he might have had "twelve legions of angels," any of which could have frustrated the purposes of the Jews and the resources of the Romans.

2. But he resolutely faced them.

(1) Because he would fulfil all righteousness. He must therefore keep the Passover; and he must go to Jerusalem to keep it (see Deuteronomy 12:5). The moral here is that consequences must never be considered in competition with the will of God,

(2) Because he would fulfil all benevolence. He went up to that Passover that he might himself become the world's salvation.

(3) This the multitude could not see. Note: The action of Jesus was allegorical, when he separated his disciples from the crowd on their way to the legal Passover, that he might unfold to them the mysteries of his Passion. The spirit of the Law is a special revelation.

(4) What the disciples had heard they were in due time to testify. Not yet; events were not ripe. Hence also their separation from the crowd on the road (cf. Matthew 10:27; Matthew 17:9).

(5) The Scriptures must be fulfilled (cf. Luke 18:31). The Divine power of Jesus in fulfilling the predictions uttered by him is as conspicuous and real as the Divine prescience which prompted their utterance.


1. It is good to converse with Jesus in the way.

2. It is good to anticipate so as to become familiar with our dying.

3. It is good to connect with our meditation upon death the matter of our resurrection. - J.A.M.

And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way.
Year by year let us go up to Jerusalem on the Palm Sunday with Christ.

1. Some go up without any special interest.

2. Others are moved by curiosity.

3. There are those who hate Him and His servants.

4. Some who believe in Christ but fear the world.

5. Some are in dark despair thinking that the cause of religion is about to perish because of organized opposition.

6. Others, a faithful few, like the small group around the cross.

(M. Dix, D. D.)

What an approach! The cities are the strongholds of the world — Babylon — Nineveh — Tyre, the centre of commerce. To none of these could our God have come expecting a joyous reception. They were of the world. But He came to Jerusalem, the city of God, the centre of true religion; a beautiful city for situation, renowned for its great age and greater history. It was a consecrated city, above whose roofs arose, day by day, clouds of smoke from the morning and evening sacrifice; an awful city, in which God had, from time to time, appeared. It held for awhile the place of the throne of the living God! It is to this city Jesus approaches. Surely to Him the gates will open and He will be greeted with songs of joy.

(M. Dix, D. D.)

Who shall hereafter " have right to the tree of life, and enter in through the gates into the city" (Psalm 24:3 and Revelation 22:14). Those whose conduct shows that they are going up to Jerusalem. This may be said to imply —

I. A growth and an advancement in those things which are good. Those who "go up" to the heavenly Jerusalem gradually increase in holiness by a diligent use of the appointed means.

II. Another evidence that we are " going up to Jerusalem" is love to God.

III. If our faces are indeed turned to Jerusalem, like travellers who have a long journey to accomplish, we shall be most anxious to lay aside any unnecessary weight, and to overcome the corrupting influence of our besetting sins. We cannot be going up to Jerusalem if our affections are rooted in the earth; we must be conscious that our course is turned thitherward. Why this loitering by the way. Let us refresh our souls with spiritual food. Let the world offer what attractions it may, our purpose is firmly fixed "to go up to Jerusalem."

(J. H. Norton.)

I. The language of the text is the testimony of our great Prophet concerning His OWN SUFFERINGS. You see it is a prophecy; the event had not yet taken place.

1. His suffering was substitutional.

2. Acceptable.

3. Covenanted.


1. The ruthless traitor.

2. The infidel priesthood.

3. The far-famed literary men.

III. THE END ACCOMPLISHED. "They shall condemn Him to death."

(J. Irons.)How the faithfulness of Christ toward His disciples appears in the announcement of His impending sufferings.

I. It is seen in the gradual manner in which He makes the fact known. From the first He had intimated that His path was one of suffering; but, while putting an end to their spurious hopes, He had never said anything to cast them down.

II. He now set it before them in all its terrors. He dealt candidly with them. Return was still possible for them, though, from their former decision, He no longer asked them whether they would forsake Him.

III. He placed before their view the promise awaiting them at the end, thus establishing and encouraging them by this blessed prospect.

(J. P. Lange, D. D.)

1. It was predetermined from the beginning, and He saw it everywhere throughout His course.

2. From the first He prepared for it, and experienced its bitterness in many preliminary trials.

3. It was the harbinger of His exaltation, and ever and anon He anticipated His coming glory.

(J. P. Lange, D. D.)

I. THE PARTY — Jesus and His disciples. The great Head of the Church and His members.

1. Their interests were mutual.

2. They are a united company.

3. They were distinct from the world.

4. Are you of the party?

II. THEIR UNION AND COMMUNION — Jesus took the twelve disciples apart.

1. We sometimes try to take Christ apart, it is better that Christ should take us.

2. This communion has love for its origin.

3. He would not have them associated with the world, He was about to touch on matters He wished His disciples to know.

4. He not only invites His Church apart as an act of love, but every grace of His Holy Spirit's implanting is then called into exercise.

5. He took them apart to talk about the atonement.

III. Mark now THE TRAVELLING ITSELF — "going up to Jerusalem." Ours is not a stand-still religion. We have no continuing city. We are in company with Jesus.

1. Decision is implied.

2. Progress is implied.

3. There was expectation as they journeyed.

4. Jesus was going up to Jerusalem for the accomplishment of redemption; and we must go to the Jerusalem above in order to fully enjoy them.

(J. Irons.)

What are all our sufferings to His? And yet we think ourselves undone if but touched, and in setting forth our calamities we add, we multiply, we rise in our discourse, like him in the poet, "I am thrice miserable, nay, ten, twenty, an hundred, a thousand times unhappy." And yet all our sufferings are but as the slivers and chips of that cross upon which Christ, nay, many Christians, have suffered. In the time of Adrian the emperor ten thousand martyrs are said to have been crucified in the Mount of Ararat, crowned with thorns, and thrust into the sides with sharp darts, after the example of the Lord's passion.

(John Trapp.)

He wraps up the gall of the passion in the honey of the resurrection.


Our Lord's last journey to Jerusalem. The prediction of the sufferings of Christ a great evidence

(1)of His prophetical character;

(2)of His willingness, as a Priest, to offer Himself a sacrifice for sin;

(3)of His confident expectation of victory as a King.

(J. P. Lange, D. D.)

As the precious stone called the carbuncle to look at is like a hot burning coal of fire, shining exceeding brightly, the which feeleth no fire, neither is it molten, changed, or mollified therewith; if thou shalt take it, and close it fast in a ring of lead, and cast it into the fire, thou shalt see the lead molten and consume before thy face, but the carbuncle remaining sound and perfect without blemish as before, for the fire worketh upon the lead, but upon the carbuncle it cannot work; even so Christ, our Saviour, being in the hot, scorching fire of His torments, suffered and died as He was man, but as He was God He neither suffered nor died. The fire of His afflictions wrought, then, upon His manhood, but His Divinity and Godhead continued perfect and utterly untouched.


The cross was the perfect manifestation of

(1)the guilt of the world;

(2)the love of Christ;

(3)His obedience;

(4)the grace of God.

(J. P. Lange, D. D.)

As astronomers know when none others think of it, that travelling through the heavens the vast shadow is progressing towards the sun which ere long shall clothe it and hide it, so Christ knew that the great darkness which was to overwhelm Him was approaching.


His resurrection was necessary to His being believed in as a Saviour. As Christ by His death paid down a satisfaction for sin, so it was necessary that it should be declared to the world by such arguments as might found a rational belief of it, so that men's unbelief should be rendered inexcusable. But how could the world believe that He fully had satisfied for sin so long as they saw death, the known wages of sin, maintain its full force and power over Him, holding Him like an obnoxious person in captivity? When a man is once imprisoned for debt none can conclude the debt either paid by him or forgiven to him but by the release of his person. Who could believe Christ to have been a God and a Saviour while He was hanging upon the tree? A dying, crucified God, a Saviour of the world who could not save Himself would have been exploded by the universal consent of reason as a horrible paradox and absurdity.

(R. South.)

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