It’s been an “interesting” week, but most of our issues have been “First World Problems.” This week, we look at the Triumphal Entry and I saw it through the lens of a spy thriller. I hope this makes sense and helps you grow in your faith.
1. And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples, 2. And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. 3. And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.
As we read these verses, we’re entering into the last week before the crucifixion. This appears to be the one prophecy of the Messiah that Jesus deliberately fulfilled (cf. Zechariah 9:9) Perhaps more interesting is that this reveals what we should have suspected: there was a lot going on in the background that not only did we not know about, the disciples who were with Jesus all day long, every day, didn’t know about. We’ll see this same pattern later before the Last Supper, but I have no doubt that Jesus had arranged for one of His followers, who remained nameless, to provide this colt for Him to enter Jerusalem. Jesus sent the disciples to pick up this colt and it’s interesting that He knows that no one has ever ridden on this animal. It’s also interesting to me that Jesus didn’t tell them to contact anyone, perhaps to spare them harm should inquiries be made by the Pharisees or the Sadducees later (?), but to see this colt, untie him and bring him to Jesus. While Jesus told them not to initiate contact, He gave them would would be considered a countersign to let the owner know that the right people were taking this colt. It’s fitting that the beginning of the end of this mission from God should have some old-fashioned spycraft at the start of things. The promise “send him hither” was a promise to send the colt back after He had entered Jerusalem.
4. And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him. 5. And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? 6. And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go.
I should remind you that when I speculate like this, I could be wrong. I expect you to read the verses for yourself and come to your own conclusion. I’m sharing my beliefs of what these verses mean, but you should always seek God’s guidance as you read to find what He wants you to find. That disclaimer aside, the unnamed disciples went into town and there at the crossroads was a building and the colt, the donkey colt, tied up just like Jesus had described. As they went to untie him, a few people came up and asked them what they were doing. Again, I’m speculating here, but I think the owner of the colt arranged for people to be watching to make sure the colt went to whom it was supposed to go. I also think that this verse indicates that it was a pretty large group that could take out any donkey thieves who weren’t intended to claim it. The crowd melted back when they realized the right people were picking it up.
7. And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him. 8 And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9. And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: 10. Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.
They brought the colt to Jesus, and I tend to believe that He was waiting outside the city gates, and they cast their garments on the colt. I tend to believe that this was a makeshift saddle, especially since the colt had never been ridden. I have no doubt that Jesus could have calmed any donkey or horse He rode, but the garments protected the donkey as much as they protected Jesus. A crowd had gathered, perhaps spurred on by those who followed Jesus that we don’t hear much about, but were always around – for example, remember the criteria for picking a new apostle in the early chapters of Acts. Perhaps other disciples passed the word that Jesus was entering the town. Whatever the reason, a contingent of people large enough to upset the Pharisees showed up and laid palm branches, clothes, and straw along the path crying out in praise ahead of Him and after Him. In short, they were causing a huge ruckus and their shouts let everyone know that they believed that Jesus was the Messiah. I believe that they still had a different concept of what the Messiah would be like, but they were enthusiastic in their welcome.
11. And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve. 12. And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: 13. And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. 14. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, He went to the Temple and looked around. I don’t know if, in His humanity, He realized how bad things had gotten in the Temple or if He went into the Temple to engage in surveillance for planning the next day’s response, but I have no doubt that Jesus was disturbed that the Temple had become a place where thieves gathered to fleece those who came to worship. Perhaps He had come to pray and the scene disturbed Him so much that He couldn’t pray. They went back to Bethany, I believe to the home of Lazarus, and set out the next day. Jesus was hungry and He went to a fig tree He saw along the way. When He saw that there was no fruit to satisfy His hunger, He cursed it in front of the disciples, and went on His way.
I’ve got to be honest with you, this story seems so unlike Jesus that I’ve had trouble dealing with it. I do believe, as we will find out next week, that Jesus did this as a parable of what was about to happen at the Temple and what the results of the Resurrection would be. This story is the first slice of a “Markan Sandwich” that we will finish next week.