14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant; 16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast brought perfect praise’?” 17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there. Matt. 21:14-17
As Messiah moved about the temple porches healing the blind and the lame, the children began shouting hosanna, i.e. save us, to the Son of David. They are repeating what they heard their parents shouting earlier when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey’s colt.
The priests clearly think He should stop the shouting; either because Son of David is a messianic name, or because it was disruptive to the services. Messiah stood in the temple in the presence of everyone, priests and worshippers alike, showing that He was, in fact, the long expected Son of David.
They knew the prophecies, yet they did not know the man.
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; Is. 35:5
. . . then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; Is. 35:6
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; Is. 61:1
The lame were walking, the blind had their sight restored. Prophecy fulfilled, and the priests were indignant! They were shocked that a good man would let such praise be applied to himself. After all, that kind of praise is meant only for God. So, foolishly they rejected Him, refusing to acknowledge Him as their Messiah. He walked out of the temple and spent the night in Bethany (about 2 miles from Jerusalem).
There is a little strangeness in His quote. Messiah answers by quoting the Septuagint (LLX) version of Ps 8:2 where the Hebrew “ordained strength” is translated as “perfect praise” or “restored praise.”
1 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. 2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. Ps 8:1-2 KJV
He is making known through the fulfillment of this Scripture that the children understand more of what is going on than they, the priests, do. The priests had no intention of restoring the praise in the temple. The children were the ones restoring, mending, creating, or strengthening praise. All this implies that the priests do not understand this praise. They had lost the praise. How sad to have spent your life in the service of the temple and then to have missed what it all represented.
One does wonder what the night in Bethany was like. By this time, the group would have acquired a lamb for the Passover. It would have probably been frolicking about the courtyard. Any children present would have naturally played with it. Yet no one understood that The Lamb that takes away the sin of the world was with them!
When Messiah returns, will some be as blind as those who could not see?
Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:8b
Next Week: By Whose Authority?