And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”
And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.
Understanding And Applying the Text
Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem for the last time before His crucifixion. Bethany and Bethphage were on the outskirts of Jerusalem. At the time people regarded them as the outer limit of Jerusalem. He sent two of His disciples ahead to get a donkey. Luke calls it a colt. This could have been a horse or a donkey. But the other Gospel writers may it clear it was a donkey. It was a donkey no one had used. So it was fit for a sacred purpose. (Numbers 19:2)
Luke makes this procurement seem so uneventful. But I imagine this from the owners’ viewpoint. This was an ancient version of carjacking. I see the owner come running out of the store or home yelling. “What do you think you are doing? Let go of my ass.” Luke only says they asked why they untied the colt. It seems so calm and uneventful.
Why weren’t the disciples stopped? They were taking a donkey that did not belong to them. By our standards it was theft. One possible answer is a custom at the time called Angaria. It allowed the borrowing of animals for service to a significant figure. “The Lord has need of him.” would fit that custom. Jesus was a significant figure. His fame had spread. They would not have seen the talking of the colt as an unjust act or unusual.
They brought the colt to Jesus and placed their clothes on the donkey and in front of it. The ones on the donkey served as a saddle. The clothes on the road formed a triumphal carpet.
This is the triumphal entry. It fulfilled the prophecy by Zechariah 9:9. It was a public declaration of His messiahship. Since the donkey is an animal of peace, Jesus showed the type of messiah He was. A conquering king would ride a horse. The people appeared to recognize Jesus’ kingship. But they failed to see His emphasis on peace.
The crowd shouted, “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” This is a quote from Psalms 118:26.
This alarmed the Pharisees. They feared the Romans may hear it too. This could cause a crackdown from the Romans. They told Jesus to quiet His disciples. They wanted nothing that disturbed the peace and bring trouble from the Romans. Jerusalem was full of pilgrims at this time of the year, perhaps 300,000 to 400,000 pilgrims. The Romans were very nervous about a rebellion starting. They would put down any sign of an insurrection, quickly, and brutally. They had a scorched earth policy. As evidence of this is the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD. They would not tolerate a challenge to Rome’s rule.
Jesus entered the City of Jerusalem with great excitement and anticipation. They, the multitude of disciples, are calling him a king. The Pharisees did not ask they told Jesus to make them stop. Jesus’ response was no, it ain’t gonna happen.
Rome had given the Jews quite a bit of freedom, more so than many other places in the Roman Empire. Herod had even enlarged the Temple area. Jews were not required to serve in the Roman army. Roman required other provinces to provide able-bodied men for the Roman army. So, it made sense that the Jewish leaders would not want to upset the Romans. They wanted to maintain the peace. Keeping the Romans appeased was in everyone’s best interest.
Note the contrast. The Jewish leaders’ concern was to maintain the peace. Contrast that with what Jesus said about Jerusalem. “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” They desired peace but were unwilling to accept real peace.
The popular image of the messiah was a concurring King. They thought the messiah would throw out the Romans. They expected a revolution. Jesus did not start a revolution. Instead, he taught in te temple. Some make this claim this caused disillusionment amount the people. This is their explanation a few days later the crowd yells “Cruxify him”.
That is ignore what the scripture says. The crowd was not your average Joe from Jerusalem. These were disciples. Second, the crowd in Pilot’s courtyard was not the average Joe from Jerusalem. They took Jesus to Pilot early in the morning. And the chief priest and Pharisees gathered the crowd. The chief priests and scribes were afraid to do anything because the crowd was hanging on his word. (v 47-48) So no. No, the people did not feel betrayed.
Jesus cleared the temple of merchants. We could argue the sellers were providing a valuable religious service. The Temple courtyard was filled with livestock and the tables of the money changers. They were selling animals known to be without blemish. They exchanged money so that there was a common currency within the temple. All this to ensure religious purity. But Jesus had little regard for what they thought of as religious purity. His repeated concern was the pure heart. The two are not the same. But we often confuse them.
This is the only account of Jesus using physical force in any of the gospels
Either in spite or because of Jesus’ actions in the temple Jesus’ popularity did not wane. There is still much anticipation and excitement. The leaders may not like him. But the general populous loved him. They anticipated the rule of King Jesus.
We all desire peace. But peace comes from God. Being sure of God’s love and living according to His will, brings us true peace. Jerusalem did not have peace because they did not know the times in which they lived. Salvation and true peace were at their gate. But they wanted a cheap version of peace. They wanted the removal of the Romans. They wanted violence.
Pray that God will not hide from you that which makes true peace.