Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?”
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”
Above are the 4 Gospel accounts of the events of what have ben known as Palm Sunday throughout the Christian era. I have fond memories of sitting in Sunday school classes, green wax crayon in hand vigorously colouring in a pre-printed palm leaf ready to celebrate through re-enactment of the entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. At that time it all meant very little to me and the hastily coloured in “palm” leaf was quickly relegated to the rubbish within days of returning home.
Little did I realise those days that there were 4 accounts of this event, one in each of the Gospels, and for your ease of reference I have reproduced them above. Can I ask you to take the time to prayerfully read them through each maybe even a few times and digest and see the variations on the accounts.
What is interesting about this particular event is that it is one of the few that is recorded within all four Gospels. We know that there is an over-lap between them all but there are few incidents recorded that are recorded in all 4 accounts. Oftentimes John leaves out much of what is in the other three but this event was so significant that all four Gospel writers felt compelled to include it.
Let me encourage you to prayerfully meditate on why that was so.
Clearly the principle reason is that this event marks the beginning of the end of Jesus mission for coming in the first place. Jesus could see the cross at the end of this week, He knew that this would be the last time that He would visit Jesus before the mission parameters were completed and He knew the mighty mountain that he was to climb for yours and my salvation.
Notice how the three synoptic Gospels specify that Jesus was approaching Bethany and Bethpage near Jerusalem. John on the other hand was only interested in informing us that Jesus was on the approach to Jerusalem, why do you think Johns account appears “less accurate” that the others?
When we read the differing in accounts of the Gospels we need to understand that the writers had different primary reasons for writing their “versions” of the events and the likes of Luke was using the first hand sources available to him at the time when composing his account. Interestingly it appears that Luke who wasn’t present when these events took place (unlike Matthew, Mark Peter and John who were followers of Jesus), makes a longer account from the various sources he uses.
But parking this as interesting as these things are the question I want to pose is what are these accounts about?
Yes they are about Jesus entry into Jerusalem!
Yes they are about a miracle in that Jesus foreknew that there would be a colt standing waiting for him to use and that the colts owners would be amenable to letting the colt go off with the disciples!
Yes it is about the fulfilment of prophecy – even the intentional fulfilment of ancient prophesy by Jesus – I think we need to understand that just because there are critics out there that will “argue” Jesus sought to fulfil some of the OT prophesies about Him, that argument does not invalidate the fulfilment of those prophecies in any way whatsoever. This is potentially a whole separate subject that a whole article can be devoted to, but suffice it to say here and now, this miracle is no less a miracle for the appearance that Jesus may have “self-fulfilled” it)!
What I would like to draw attention to is that whilst these passages are clearly about all the things listed above and probably more, they are principally about showing, even proving who Jesus truly is to the people of the day.
Fulfilment of the Jeremiah prophecy (9:9) is a significant event. Apart from the first century backdrop of Roman occupation and that the Jewish nation was looking for a “saviour” that would rise up as a political and/or military leader and kick the Romans out of their land, the idea that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem in such a significant manner, was a key indicator to them that whoever entered the capitol city like that was making claim to be Gods chosen one.
Can I encourage you to meditate prayerfully on the significance of this. We tend to look in these verses at the story of the donkey, as if the story is about that, or we concentrate on the contrast that we see in the crowds reactions in a short space of time and how all these people worshipping Jesus soon turned on Him, or we tend to concentrate on the fulfilment of the Zechariah prophesy, all of which to various degrees are important elements of this event in Jesus life.
But let us also take time to consider the implications of this whole event. Jesus here is clearly marking himself out through the nature of his mode of transport to be The Messiah, it is one if not the only time he allows public worship/adoration of His earthly self or at least the only time it is recorded for us.
The spontaneous reaction of the crowds, was this inspired by the Holy Spirit? Was it a natural reaction to the circumstances of celebrating the Passover for which they were all in Jerusalem for, and that reports of Jesus’ miracles prior to His arrival at Jerusalem? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but what I do know is that in the clearest possible way, at least to the first century Jew, was that He was proclaiming to be The Messiah!
We know that His subsequent resurrection emphatically proved this claim but back then? Well they were reacting in faith. How much more should we, in faith, worship and glorify our King, Lord, brother, master and God.
As we move into Holy Week let em encourage you to read carefully the accounts of this week and to be fed spiritually by them and to share, especially in these times of lockdown, with those who you are in contact with and who may themselves be looking for answers.