The Lord Jesus entered Jerusalem in great triumph. His majesty and rightful claim to the throne of David were manifest . . . to His disciples. But the established powers in Jerusalem refused to know what they had a responsibility to know. And in this, the very rocks were more spiritually astute than the Pharisees.
“And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? And they said, The Lord hath need of him. And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. 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” (Luke 19:33-42).
Jesus sent His disciples to obtain the colt that was necessary for the fulfillment of the Word of God, and when asked about it, the disciples responded as they had been instructed (vv. 33-34). They placed their garments on the back of the colt (v. 35), and as Jesus entered Jerusalem, they spread their garments in front of Him (v. 36). When they came to the descent from Olives, their rejoicing burst forth. The whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice loudly, and they were doing this because of all the mighty works they had seen (v. 37). On that wonderful day many wonderful things were said, but Luke records a particular blessing that is reminiscent of words he recorded earlier (v. 38). There were some Pharisees there who thought the disciples were spiraling out of control, and who asked Jesus to rein them in (v. 39). Jesus replied that if His disciples were silent, the rocks would not be (v. 40). Then when Jesus neared the city, He wept over it (v. 41). His reason for weeping was that if they had only known the way of peace . . . but these things were hidden from them (v. 42).
There is a branch of philosophy called epistemology, which is the study of how we know that we know—the study of knowing. And for the most part, it is a very destructive and impudent discipline. This is not because the question is unnatural or forced (what Christian parent has not had to answer the question, “How do we know that our religion is the true religion?”). Nevertheless, this philosophical discipline is largely made up of organized attempts to evade the biblical answers, and unfortunately there are even Christian philosophers who try to play the game in a misguided approach to evangelism. One of the things we need to learn how to do is accept the way the question arises in Scripture, and accept the way it is answered in Scripture. And in pursuit of this, we might say that the triumphal entry into Jerusalem was the great epistemological moment. When Jesus descended from the Mount of Olives into the valley, it was into a valley of decision. “Israel, behold Your King. Will you receive Him? Or not?”
What is true knowing? The disciples knew who Jesus was, and they knew it on the basis of the mighty works that He had done (v. 37). But the Pharisees had seen these same miracles, but they did not “interpret“ them the same way. They did not know their King despite the ample reasons that had been given to them. Not only did they not know the truth, they thought they knew that the truth deserved to be rebuked. Jesus responded that the stones themselves knew better than hearts of stone.
And this is why an evangelical Calvinism is so necessary. Of course, we ought never to use these terms in a factional spirit, or in the interests of advancing the cause of a particular party. At the same time, these words highlight something that really needs to emphasized in our day if the believing catholic church is to remain healthy. We see in the foregoing situation that the disciples knew the identity of Christ on the basis of His works that were public knowledge. We see that Jerusalem did not know what would make for her peace, and did not know because it was hidden from her. And we saw that if the disciples kept silent with what they knew, the stones would cry out, and would do so with greater knowledge and wisdom than the Pharisees had.
Because God controls all things, He controls the hearts of sinful men. He is the one who determines who believes and who does not believe, and He does this without any injustice to the unbeliever (John 6:37, 65). Knowledge of God, knowledge of miracles, knowledge of the world are the gift of God lest any should boast (Eph. 2:8-9). The Bible teaches that when knowledge is “given” to an unknowing heart, that knowledge just bounces off. An unbeliever can stare at a miracle straight out of heaven, and be like a dog doing calculus. So in order for knowledge to be a gift of God, the knowing heart must be a gift of God as well. Because we believe that God does it all, we are Calvinistic. And because we believe that God gives a new heart, we are evangelical. The only alternative to thinking this way is to insist on keeping my old heart, or on claiming the ability to change my heart myself.
Remember what the disciples said. Luke records the disciples saying, “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” Part of this is very close to what the angels said (Luke 2:14). And in Luke 2, it was peace on earth; here it is peace in heaven. The phrase that blesses the one who comes is the name of the Lord is from Ps. 118:26. This phrase is included in all four gospel accounts of the triumphal entry. It is used additionally by Christ in His severe judgment on unbelieving Israel. He said that their house would be left desolate until they learned to say this glorious phrase (Matt. 23:39; Luke 13:35). And so this is what we must declare to the world.