Jesus rides a donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday

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Preparation

We have come to the last stage of the journey. There had been the time of withdrawal around Caesarea Philippi in the far north. There had been the time in Galilee. There had been the stay in the hill-country of Judea and in the regions beyond Jordan. There had been the road through Jericho. Now comes Jerusalem. The long journey from Galilee had ended on what we now call Palm Sunday, as Jesus and His disciples reached Bethany, approximately two miles east of Jerusalem (v. 1). This was the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus and a place to which Jesus often retreated to.  

As they approached the city, Jesus sent two of His disciples to the village nearby (vv. 2-6) to get a colt that had never been ridden and bring it to Him. He knew right where the animal could be found and the purpose of securing it was that Jesus’ entry into the city might be a precise fulfilment of prophecy (Zech. 9:9).  The prophets of Israel had always had a very distinctive method of getting their message across. When words failed to move people they did something dramatic, as if to say, “If you will not hear, you must be compelled to see.” (cp. specially 1 Kings 11:30–32.)

In Palestine when a king went to war he rode on a horse and when he came in peace he rode on an ass. As our Lord rode westward over the Mount of Olives and down the slope towards Jerusalem some zealous followers spread their garments and branches on the path for Him to ride over (vv. 7-10). This milling crowd acknowledged that it believed its Messiah had appeared. They thought He had come to overthrow the Roman government and establish His Kingdom on earth. Jesus was indeed the Hebrew Messiah but His mission was not political or primarily external but spiritual and internal. After Jesus had ridden into Jerusalem, he went into the temple. Since it was already late in the day He went back to Bethany with the twelve disciples (v. 11).

Application

It is evident that all of those present were more concerned about what was going to take place in their immediate future than in eternity. Is the majority of my time taken up with the accumulation of things in this life or in preparation for the next life?

Mark 11:1-11 (English Standard Version)

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.

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