Mark 11: 1 – 11 Jesus comes to Jerusalem as king
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you doing this?” say, “the Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.” ’
They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, ‘What are you doing, untying that colt?’ They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while the others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
‘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!’
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
* * *
There are two stories in this passage.
The first is the procuring of a colt for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem. It’s a curious story. Two of the disciples are sent ahead to borrow a colt. Jesus gives them words to say if they are challenged. They are indeed challenged; they say the words and they’re allowed to take the colt.
Some people interpret this event as a demonstration of Jesus’ omniscience, but I don’t think that’s right. During his earthly ministry, Jesus was fully human, which surely means he wasn’t omniscient. He would have relied, like us, on the progressive revelation of God’s plan by the Holy Spirit.
Could the borrowing of the colt be explained as part of that revelation by the Holy Spirit?
Yes, of course it could. But Jesus had dealings with people outside his inner circle – Nicodemus, for example – and it seems possible that he made prior arrangements to borrow the colt. The words given to the two disciples were a way they could authenticate themselves to the owner.
The second story is of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.
It was Passover. Jerusalem was always crowded during Passover, because thousands of Jews made pilgrimage there for the festival. Some of that crowd of pilgrims had probably travelled from Jericho with Jesus and his disciples. Others would have heard news that Jesus was coming and gone to greet him.
What did they see?
They saw Jesus on a borrowed colt, with cloaks for a saddle. They saw crowds of people spreading their cloaks, spreading palm branches on the ground in front of Jesus to protect him from the dusty road – and to honour him.
The crowd were cheering, shouting “Hosanna” (which has the literal meaning “Save, now!”).
They were shouting, ‘Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!’. This amounted to a claim that Jesus was the Messiah.
It was noisy, joyful, and triumphant. It was the coronation of a king!
The crowds, even the Twelve, were expecting Jesus to somehow overthrow Roman rule and restore the kingdom of Israel. People had seen him heal the sick, make the blind see, miraculously feed a crowd of thousands – even raise the dead. What a king he would be! What thrilling days in which to live!
Were the crowds right? We shall see over the next few weeks. They were right about one thing, though. Jesus is a king, and it was fitting that he should enter Jerusalem in triumph.
You are the King of Glory, Lord. Amen.
Thank you for sending Jesus as my king. Please help me to be obedient and follow him faithfully.
In Jesus’ name, Amen