Tuesday April 7, 2020
And when they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them, and bring them to Me. 3 "And if anyone says something to you, you shall say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them." 4 Now this took place that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying,
5 "Say to the daughter of Zion,
'Behold your King is coming to you,
Gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'"
6 And the disciples went and did just as Jesus had directed them, 7 and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid on them their garments, on which He sat. 8 And most of the multitude spread their garments in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees, and spreading them in the road. 9 And the multitudes going before Him, and those who followed after were crying out, saying,
"Hosanna to the Son of David;
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!"
10 And when He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, "Who is this?" 11 And the multitudes were saying, "This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee."
A king must enter his capital city if he is going to proclaim himself as king. Jesus up to this point had not openly proclaimed Himself in any way. He often in the gospels told those whom He healed not to tell anyone. He would often say, “My hour has not yet come.” When Peter openly proclaimed Him as the Christ, the Son of God, Jesus told the disciples:
Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.
But on this spring afternoon, the time for silence had passed. From leaving Bethany, probably in the late morning, to sending the two disciples to fetch the colt, to rebuking the Pharisees (Luke), He was openly declaring Himself as Messiah to the one nation that expected One. And because He was doing that this day, He said the stones would speak out for Him if no one else would. His Person and Authority were openly proclaimed and that truth was upon them, and upon the world. The many, caught up in the excitement of the day’s events, would not understand that justice had come upon the city, and many of them should have been mourning.
And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, "Why are you untying the colt?" 34 And they said, "The Lord has need of it." 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and they threw their garments on the colt, and put Jesus on it. 36 And as He was going, they were spreading their garments in the road.
The colt owners willingly hand over the colt when they hear that the “kurios” has need of it. The simplest explanation is that they had heard of His coming to Jerusalem with the rest of the multitude who were there to celebrate the Passover. Just days before, Jesus had raised Lazarus in Bethany, and a great many pilgrims from there, less than five miles away, were openly proclaiming the miracle. Remember, countless hundreds or thousands have been healed by Him, many of whom live in the city and surrounding area. If they were believers in Christ, the colt owners would have seen His need of the animal as a privilege, and then later finding out that He used the colt for this purpose, as the prophet Zechariah had said He would, would have given them such great joy.
The simplest thing in the service of the Lord is a grand privilege.
Yet, no one would understand the events of this day besides the Lord Himself. The ones who would come closest to understanding would be His enemies, the Pharisees, though they still would be far off. They looked upon the welcoming crowds, not forsaking Jesus as the Pharisees’ own propaganda machine had been pushing for months, and knew that Jesus had to die. The high priest would even prophecy this a few days later. If only they understood why He had to suffer and die. Only He did. You can do nothing against the truth, only for the truth.
Since the disciples didn’t understand the things Jesus did on Palm Sunday, no one but Jesus did.
These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him. 17 And so the multitude who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him from the dead, were bearing Him witness. 18 For this cause also the multitude went and met Him, because they heard that He had performed this sign. 19 The Pharisees therefore said to one another, "You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him [common Jewish expression]."
When Jesus left Bethany with His disciples that morning, they were on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem, coming from the east. The sun is at their backs. A multitude of pilgrims, excited for the Passover and more excited over a resurrected Lazarus who we would confidently say is among them, are heading the roughly three miles to the city. The road is broad. To the left is a steep, descending slope and to the right is the upward sloping shoulder of the Mount of Olives.
Artist depiction of the road from Bethany to Jerusalem.
We must imagine a fairly large crowd with Jesus as He walks. Yet, heading towards them are others from Jerusalem who have heard of Jesus’ coming to the city. This road converges with three others close to the city, and it was here that perhaps the colt was obtained.
They put their garments over the colt and Jesus mounts it and rides the rest of the way into the city. The sight of this great man, whoever the individuals in the crowd believed Him to be, mounted on the foal of a donkey would have only added further excitement to the event.
The people before Him took off their outer garments and laid them down on the road as the colt treaded over them. This and the spreading of leafy branches that they had taken from trees in the nearby fields as well as palms were a common way of honoring a conquering hero or king entering a city. And, perhaps the excited people imagined that they would own a cloak that the Messiah had trod upon, like a garment signed by a celebrity. Perhaps His healing power might somehow transfer to the garment. After He passed over them, they would pick them up and run ahead to spread them again before Him.
And many spread their garments in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before, and those who followed after, were crying out,
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David;
Hosanna in the highest!"
They gathered palms and branches from nearby trees and continually shouted this phrase from PSA 118:25-26.
“Hosanna” - save now, or deliver now.
The people are carried away by the spectacle, but they don’t understand what is actually happening. We can make divisions of the entire populace at and around Jerusalem at the time. There are those who live in and around Jerusalem. There are pilgrims from Bethany, a short way away. There are pilgrims from Galilee and other parts of Israel (even a few Greeks and Egyptians/Alexandrians; Simon of Cyrene).
Jesus, for the first time during His incarnation, is openly presenting Himself to Israel as their promised Messiah.
We wonder at the change in the crowd from this day to the end of the Passion Week when they are calling for His crucifixion. But it is not so hard to understand that people are fickle. Many in Jerusalem hate Jesus because they have always been under the sway of propaganda from the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes who operate around the capital. The pilgrims from afar have not found themselves surrounded by this opinion, but now that they are in the city for a week, it is enough time for the leadership and the others in the city to influence them and completely change their minds concerning this Jesus of Nazareth.
Outside propaganda, pilgrims from afar might have good thoughts, but then enveloped in propaganda they can completely change their view.
The dynamic of the multitude at Jerusalem during this particular week is fascinating, and I think, a wonderful snapshot of the condition of mankind.
The pilgrims from Bethany converge with pilgrims around Jerusalem. Those who heard about Lazarus meet eye witnesses of the event who relate what they saw. Fire leaps from heart to heart as they hear. “Has the King finally come? Will we be witnesses of the establishment of His Kingdom?”
O, Sing Psa 118! Is the heart of the excited crowd.
According to Jewish tradition, PSA 118:25-28 was chanted by the people of Jerusalem as they went out to welcome the pilgrims, who would respond with the second clause. Then, they would all sing vs. 29 together.
O Lord, do save, we beseech Thee;
O Lord, we beseech Thee, do send prosperity!
26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord;
We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God, and He has given us light;
Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
28 Thou art my God, and I give thanks to Thee;
Thou art my God, I extol Thee.
29 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
It’s all just so celebratory and wonderful.
The Lord would quote a line of this poem days later.
The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief corner stone.
Again, it is the Pharisees who are the closest to knowing what is going on, though they are far off. They know something because they directly feel the threat of this Man. And a threat He certainly is, because He is not only endowed with salvation as He rides the donkey, but with justice.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
"Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord;
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
39 And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to Him, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." 40 And He answered and said, "I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!"
It’s as if Jesus was saying, “The day has come for this to go public, and nothing you or anyone can do will stop it. If everyone here clasped their hands over their mouths, the rocks would start singing the psalms.”
No one can stop the plan of God for the world, neither for you or for me. In this time where is seems as if the government will grab enough power to prevent our coming and going and working as we have always liked, all the governments arrayed together against just you, could not stop God’s plans for your life. Sight says one thing, reality in the workings of God say another.
Back to the procession:
As they get close to the city, the pilgrims get a slight glimpse of the city, but then the Jericho road descends a little and the city disappears behind a ridge of the Olivet. A few moments and the road mounts again reaching a broad smooth area, and in an instance, the whole city bursts into view. Immediately before you is the Kidron Valley, which plunges downward, giving the effect of a city rising up out of an abyss.
Jerusalem from the east on the road to Bethany/Jericho.
It is likely here that Jesus wept.
He’s the only one who wept because He’s the only one who sees.
And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. 43 "For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, 44 and will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."
What words these are? “If you had known this day, even you, the things which make for peace!”
Weeping at Laz. Tomb (dakruo - shed tears)
Weeping over Jerusalem (klaio - loud expression of grief)
How different was the tomb of Lazarus from this? What contrast between the glorious city before Him and His vision of it surrounded by the vice grip of Roman Legions, siege engines, and soon after, thousands of crosses constructed from the same trees that the people had plucked branches to wave at Jesus, supporting dying Jews, while the city they looked upon in their last agonizing moments was not much more than piles of fallen stones.
Israel would be dispersed throughout the world. And yet God would still plead with them through the church to return to God and be healed.
Jesus had openly declared Himself as the Messiah of Israel, and this caused Him to loudly weep because with that declaration came justice.
Most in Israel had a different Messiah in mind. He was not the Messiah of Israel’s conception. How foolish is the world? Want and pride feed the deepest ignorance.
Yet, the Messiah still came in the fashion of ZEC 9:9. He comes with justice and salvation. While the fire burned on the altar in the Temple, representing justice and salvation, He would tie Himself to its horns and become the one, true burnt offering. He came humble and riding on a donkey. Those who rejected His cross, took the fire of the altar, God’s judgment for sin, upon themselves. And that judgment comes so suddenly, that we weep and pray for the people of this world.
This humble Man on a donkey was intended to proclaim another Kingdom in contrast to the earthy kingdoms built on warfare and conquest.
The Just King, the Prince of Peace, the One who would not break a bruised reed or extinguish a smoldering wick, would fulfill the promise made to Abraham, that his seed would be a blessing to all the families of the earth, Jew and Gentile.
The world’s history has been conquest, greed, pride, boasting, etc. If Israel and the world were to have a Messiah, a Deliverer, could He make a Kingdom in the same way? No. He must make His just like this, humble, winning by self-sacrifice; doing what none of us ever could - give ourselves away for that which is good.
Go through, go through the gates;
Clear the way for the people;
Build up, build up the highway;
Remove the stones, lift up a standard over the peoples.
11 Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth,
Say to the daughter of Zion, "Lo, your salvation comes;
Behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him."
[Ederseim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah] “On that bright spring-day, the weak, excitable, fickle populace streamed before Him through the City-gates, through the narrow streets, up the Temple-mount. Everywhere the tramp of their feet, and the shout of their acclamations brought men, women, and children into the streets and on the housetops. The City was moved, and from mouth to mouth the question passed among the eager crowd of curious onlookers: ‘Who is He?’ And the multitude answered - not, this is Israel’s Messiah-King, but: ‘This is Jesus the Prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.’ And so up into the Temple!”
"Who is this?" 11 And the multitudes were saying, "This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee."
The sorrowful Jesus saw what the same mouths would utter days later, “Crucify Him!” He saw the city as a field of suffering and death. He would look upon the doomed city and the doomed people for most of the day, seeing what they could not see. And then, weary and sorrowful, He would return to Bethany on the same Jericho road, leaving the city at His back, this time without fanfare, without shouting; Jesus quiet, reflecting returns to the house of His dearest friends to rest.
The cross looms large over Him, but His work in teaching and revealing are not yet done. Tomorrow is another full day of convincing stubborn minds, softening hardened hearts, and yet their will be glimmers of wonderful happenings, especially with innocent children.