12.The next day, a great multitude. This entrance of Christ is more copiously related (Mat_21:1; Mar_11:1; Luk_19:29) by the other Evangelists; but John here embraces the leading points. In the first place, we ought to remember Christ’ design, which was, that he came to Jerusalem of his own accord, to. offer himself to die; for it was necessary that his death should be voluntary, because the wrath of God could be appeased only by a sacrifice of obedience. And, indeed, he well knew what would be the result; but before he is dragged to the cross, he wishes to be solemnly acknowledged by the people as their King; nay, he openly declares that he commences his reign by advancing to death, but though his approach was celebrated by a vast crowd of people, still he remained unknown to his enemies until, by the fulfillment of prophecies, which we shall afterwards see in their own place, he proved that he was the true Messiah; for he wished to omit nothing that would contribute to the full confirmation of our faith.
A great multitude, which came to the feast. Thus strangers were more ready to discharge the duty of paying respect to the Son of God than the citizens of Jerusalem, who ought rather to have been all example to all others. For they had sacrifices daily; the temple was always before their eyes, which ought to have: kindled in their hearts the desire of seeking God; these too were the highest teachers of the Church, and there was the sanctuary of the divine light. It is therefore a manifestation of excessively base ingratitude in them that, after they have been trained to such exercise from their earliest years, they reject or despise the Redeemer who had been promised to them. But this fault has prevailed in almost every age, that the more nearly and the more familiarly God approached to men, the more daringly did men despise God.
In other men who, having left their homes, assembled to celebrate the feast, we observe much greater ardor, so that they eagerly inquire about Christ; and when they hear that he is coming into the city, they go out to meet and congratulate him. And yet it cannot be doubted that they were aroused by a secret movement of the Spirit to meet him. We do not read that this was done on any former occasion. But as earthly princes summon their subjects by the sound of a trumpet or by the public crier, when they go to take possession of their kingdom, so Christ, by a movement of his Spirit, assembled this people, that they might hail him as their king. When the multitudes wished to make him a king, while he was in the wilderness, (Joh_6:15,) he withdrew secretly into the mountain; for at that time they dreamed of no other kingdom than one under which they might be well fattened, in the same manner as cattle. Christ could not therefore grant and comply with their foolish and absurd wish, without denying himself, and renouncing the office which the Father had bestowed upon him. But now he claims for himself such a kingdom as he had received from the Father. I readily acknowledge that the people who went out to meet him were not well acquainted with the nature of this kingdom; but Christ looked to the future. Meanwhile, he permitted nothing to be done that was not suitable to his spiritual kingdom.