In Mark 10:46 Jesus and His disciples were in Jericho where Jesus healed a blind man named Bartimaeus. Jesus and His disciples are continuing their journey to Jerusalem. They now stop in Bethphage and Bethany, which at the time were two towns just outside of Jerusalem. Further, it is important to realize that we are only five days away from the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus. This should help set the tone and the background for the events that we read about in the remainder of this gospel.
The need for a colt
Jesus sends two disciples into the village where they will find a colt tied. Jesus tells these disciples to loose the colt and bring it to Him. Immediately, the scene becomes very interesting. As far as we can see in the scriptures, Jesus never rode an animal up to this point. We have seen Him use boats to cross back and forth on the Sea of Galilee. We have seen Him walk from town to town, traversing the land of Israel , even passing into Gentile regions in the upper northern territories of Phoenicia. Now that Jesus is all of about two miles away from Jerusalem , after the number of miles He has already walked, why does Jesus need to ride a colt? The reason Jesus is going to ride a colt into Jerusalem is to fulfill prophecy. As Matthew tells us, the clearest prophecy that this action fulfilled was that of Zechariah. Recall that Zechariah had made many prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah. Zechariah even prophesies concerning the amount of the betrayal price to arrest the Messiah, and how the Messiah would be pierced for the sins of the people.
In Zechariah 9:9 we read this prophecy: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Jesus was going to ride into Jerusalem on a colt so that the people in the city would, hopefully, be reminded of this prophecy. Jesus was about to show Jerusalem that He is the King. This event is also the fulfillment of another prophecy, a prophecy more obscure because it was given all the way back in the book of Genesis by a dying Jacob. In Genesis 49 Jacob is imparting the blessing to each of His sons. In Genesis 49:8-12 Jacob gives the blessing to Judah. Jacob describes Judah as a “lion’s cub.” Jacob further says, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people. Binding his donkey to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, He washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes.” Here Jacob prophesied that the King would come from Judah and all the peoples would obey Him. Further, Jacob speaks of a colt being tied to a vine, a symbol for Israel , and His garments washed in blood. Jacob spoke of blood with this event, and as we know, the King would shed His blood when He would come into Jerusalem for the final time. It is from this prophecy that Jesus is called, in Revelation 5:5, “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.”
It is interesting to me that this is the imagery that Jesus would portray to the people of Israel. What an unusual way to show that you are the king! We would expect the King to ride in with power on His mighty horses destroying the enemies. We would expect the imagery found in Revelation 19:11-16. In this scene, we see the King coming with His armies, striking the nations with a sharp sword, ruling with a rod of iron, and treading down the enemies in His wrath. But it was not time for that yet. It was not the time for the destruction of the heathen and rebellious peoples. Instead of riding with the sword in hand, He rode on a donkey, because the King was coming to bring peace. The King was coming to bring salvation and deliverance for the people who would believe in Him.
We must also consider another statement that is made by Mark that is easy to pass over, but must have some significance since it is mentioned. In Mark 11:2 Jesus said that the disciples would find a colt “on which no one has sat.” Why bring this point up if there is no meaning to it? Think for a moment what happens when someone tries to sit on an animal that has never been sat on before. What is the end result of trying to ride an animal that never has been ridden before? The animal will run and kick until you fall off. Yet, not so with Jesus riding upon this colt that has never been sat upon before. I believe this is an image to show the gentleness of Jesus. It is again the fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 in which we see that the King would come in gentleness and humility. How gentle do we see the King as He is able to sit and ride upon a colt that has never been sat on before? A beautiful image to let His people know how tender and gentle He is to His people.
The cry of the people
Once Jesus sits upon the colt, there are many who spread their garments on the road before the King. Others cut down leafy branches and spread them on the road before the King. Then those who went on before and those who followed began to cry out saying, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” We need to do our best to envision this scene. We must realize that this is not just a handful of people that are following Jesus right now. There is a great multitude, according to John’s gospel, following Jesus and the reason why is that Jesus has just a day or two ago raised Lazarus from the dead. This would have been a thunderous cry from the people. Jesus is moving slowly into Jerusalem on a colt. People before Him are crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” The people behind Jesus are shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” In San Diego , when you would go to a baseball or football game, nearly without fail there would be sections dedicated to the armed forces, most usually the army and the navy. During the game these two sections would shout at each other “ARMY!” and “NAVY!” to see who was louder in a sort of competition. Though there would be less than a hundred people representing each side, the shouting was deafening loud. When voices come together to cry out, it is a very loud noise. Imagine the roar that the city would have heard from this great multitude who are leading the way and following after Jesus.
We also come to find out that the words the multitudes were shouting were actually the fulfillment of prophecy as well. Turn to Psalm 118:25-26. There we read, “Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.” Now you may be reading that and saying that those words are not the same. Where is the word “Hosanna” in the Psalm passage? Guess what the word “Hosanna” means? The word means “save us now” and to give success or prosperity. After seeing Lazarus rise from the dead, the people know who they have with them. This is the King. This is the Messiah. This is the One who has come to save us. This is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.
But the context of the prophecy is also important. We have noted before that when going to the origin of a quoted prophecy, we must also look at its context to see what else was supposed to happen and should have come to the people’s minds when they heard these words. Back in Psalm 118, notice the verses that precede the quotation, which are verses 22-24. This passage reads, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Immediately we see that the one who comes in the name of the Lord bringing salvation is going to be rejected in Jerusalem. But there is an important point made by the psalmist. “This was the Lord’s doing.” The people did not do something that was not planned or was not expected.
It is amazing to me that the theory of premillennialism, accepted by the denominations, contends that Jesus was surprised to be rejected by the people. The rejection was the Lord’s doing. God knew that the people would reject Him and if God did not want this to happen, He would not have let this happen. But this was all in the planning of the Lord. This day was the day the Lord had made. In the words of Paul, this was the fullness of time. This was the point that all of history was looking toward. God would make the stone rejected by the people to become the chief cornerstone that the kingdom of God would be built upon. This would happen through the resurrection of Jesus, and His ascension into heaven where all power was given to Him and where He sits on the throne ruling over the kingdoms of heaven and earth.
Luke’s account (19:39 -44)
We have not done this many times in our study of Mark because I have wanted our study to mainly be concerning the gospel that Mark records. However, I believe we would miss too much if we were not to look at the other gospels concerning this event. The other three gospels give more information that is not revealed by Mark. In the Luke account we see that the cries of the people bring about a dialogue with the Pharisees. When Pharisees hear the people crying “Hosanna,” Luke 19:39 tells us that the Pharisees tell Jesus to rebuke the people. The Pharisees understood that these words the people were shouting were Messianic and they were applying these words to Jesus. The Pharisees want Jesus to make them stop because they do not believe that Jesus is the King. Jesus’ response is fascinating. Jesus says, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” What an amazing thought! This event was the fulfillment of prophecy. Even if there were no people to follow Him, something would be crying out to announce the coming of the King. These events must take place. The coming of the King would be declared because He was the prophesied one, whether the Pharisees liked it or not.
In Luke 19:41 we see that as Jesus approaches the city, He looks at the city and begins to weep over it. In verses 42-44 Jesus makes a prophecy concerning the city, and this would not be the last prophecy He would make against it. While today was the city’s day against the Messiah, the days were coming when the enemies would surround it on every side. Further, the city would be leveled and the people inside would be trampled to the ground as well. Further, not one stone would be left upon another, because the time of their destruction was going to come upon them in a surprise, not knowing the time of their judgment. At this point, Jesus prophesies of Jerusalem ‘s fall. It is interesting to notice the times that Jesus wept. We always remember the time when Jesus heard the news of Lazarus’ death that Jesus wept. But we need to see the compassion that Jesus had for His people. In the face of the justice of coming judgment against the city, Jesus wept at the thought. What love Jesus had for those who were going to kill Him in just five days! Even knowing His future death, He could still weep for the people who would harm Him. I cannot think of a better example of compassion for us to follow.
John’s account (John 12:16)
John lets us know a little more information concerning the events that took place as Jesus entered into the city of Jerusalem. Jesus is riding on a colt and the multitudes are shouting “Hosanna,” a quotation of Messianic prophecy. In the face of all of these events, John tells us in John 12:16, “His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.” How amazing that as His close disciples are on the way to Jerusalem , they do not understand the things that are going on. They do not understand why Jesus is riding on a colt. They do not understand why the stones would cry out if the people did not. They did not understand–until Jesus was glorified, which is a common phrase used to describe Jesus’ crucifixion and also His resurrection three days later. The most significant eventin world history–yet His disciples do not understand what is going on. While the disciples had an excuse that everything had not been fully revealed yet, what excuse do we have for not understanding God’s will and having our eyes shut spiritually? We cannot allow ourselves to remain spiritual dull of hearing and dull in learning the will of God and His commands. It is important that we continue to read and are always studying to learn what God wants us to do and become. Let us apply ourselves to growing in the wisdom of God.
Matthew’s account (Matthew 21:10 -11)
Matthew’s account gives us one final insight into the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Verses 10-11 tell us something that the other gospel accounts do not. When Jesus came into the city, all of the city was moved and asked, “Who is this?” The crying out of the people has had the desired effect. All the people in the city are moved to ask who this person is. They know that those words were to follow the Messiah. These were the Messianic words and whoever they were spoken of was the King who had come to deliver the people. So when the people hear these words, they want to know who the people are speaking about. They want to know who their Messiah is. The multitudes respond in verse 11, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” Jesus is the Messiah. The one who is the prophet from Nazareth is the King who has come to deliver the people.
As we conclude our study of this text, I want to leave each of you with one simple question: Who is this Jesus to you? The multitudes recognized Jesus as the Deliverer and the one who had come in the name of the Lord to save them. The multitudes showed Jesus the honor of a king as they laid their garments on the road before Him and as they laid the branches of trees before His path. The multitudes who followed Jesus saw Him for who He was. Who is this Jesus to you? Is He your King? If He is the King, and the scriptures prove that He is, then we must treat Him as the king. We must sacrifice all that we have for the King. We must honor Him and revere Him as King of this world and King of our lives. We must submit to the king who has come. Who is this Jesus to you? If He is our King, then we need to proclaim Him as king to all who will hear us. We need to raise our voices as did this multitude, crying out that the Messiah has coming to deliver us from our sins. We cannot hide it in ourselves. We must be compelled to cry out the good news if He truly is our king. Who is this Jesus to you? Is He your King?