Parallel Texts: Matthew 21:1-12, 14-17; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19
As we have come to expect, Mark gives us the simple facts of the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem as King and Messiah without fanfare or explanation of prophecies and Jewish traditions and expectations. In spite of this, anyone with some understanding of such things will recognize that the very manner of Jesus’ entry into town was a statement of who He was and why He had come.
Verses 1-6 tell of the arrangements, Jesus sending a couple of disciples out to get the donkey for Him to ride into town, and everything being just as Jesus had told them, yet we shouldn’t rush through this quite so fast. If you’ve been following along with this study, you will have noticed that Jesus, while He went around the countryside preaching the Kingdom, shied away from announcements of who He was, and often told the recipients of miracles to keep quiet about what had happened between them. Now by contrast, Jesus has a donkey to ride into town, and considering the fact that a donkey colt, never ridden, would be His method of transportation into the city, was exactly what had been prophesied for the entry of Messiah, (Zech. 9:9) Jesus was now “coming out.”
It strikes most of us as odd that a King would ride into the city on a donkey, rather than on a mighty steed, and many have misunderstood this to be a show of humility, but that is a Western notion. For the Jew, horses were reserved for warfare and a king would ride a donkey in peacetime; they were highly prized in fact for they are more durable and reliable than a horse. Jesus was making a statement, there’s no doubt about it, that He was King and Messiah.
When the colt was brought to Jesus, people took their cloaks and placed them on His mount for Him to sit upon, while others spread their cloaks out on the ground before Him, an honor reserved for a king. (2 Kings 9:13) Notice that Jesus no longer objected to this sort of thing. As Jesus began His procession into the city, people began to pour out to greet Him and others poured in with Him, there were shouts…
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Mark has recorded an interesting combination of shouts here! “Hosanna” literally means “save” and the people used it in the sense of a praise. They recognized by their acclimation that Jesus had come in God’s name, and then they tie this together as a sort of bridge between the past and future glory of Israel with the reference to Jesus as the son of David and rightful king. If you take a step back from the scene, tumultuous as it no doubt was, and reflect on the things Mark records here, there is an interesting picture:
Jesus came to Jerusalem to save the people, He was the Anointed One of God, coming in peace to God’s city, and He was transforming the throne of David from an earthly to a heavenly one. In the end, that was exactly what would happen in one week’s time.
Jesus travelled all the way to the Temple court, but when He arrived there, nobody from the Temple greeted Him. Mark mentions politely that it was late, but if the Chief Priest had been doing his job, the entire court would have rolled out the red carpet for the Messiah. Of course, they had other plans for God’s Anointed One.
Jesus quietly returned to Bethany.