Harmony of the Gospels

 -Sunday-
Bethany, Jerusalem, Bethany-
(1) Triumphal Entry
(Zech. 9:9), Matt. 21:1-9, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44 (Focal Passage), John 12:12-19

 

28 When He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
29 And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples,
30 saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here.
31 And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’ ”
32 So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them.
33 But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?”
34 And they said, “The Lord has need of him.”
35 Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him.
36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.
37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen,
38 saying: “ ‘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 called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”
41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,
42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side,
44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

 

28 When He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

It was now the Sunday before His crucifixion. Jesus was near the eastern slope of the Mountt of Olives on His way to Jerusalem.

This event is traditionally known as the “Triumphal Entry,” in which Jesus officially offers Himself to the nation of Israel as her long-awaited Messiah. However, in many ways it is far from a triumph, for the day ends with Jesus’ public prediction of His rejection by His own people.

 

The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was an event of outstanding significance. Note the following:

1. By means of it, Jesus deliberately evoked a demonstration. The enthusiasm of the masses enraged the hostile religious leaders in Jerusalem. Therefore, they wanted more than ever to carry out their plot against Him.
2. Jesus forced the members of the Sanhedrin to move up their timetable for eliminating Jesus. The time was set by the Father in eternity past, and He would see that it happened just as He said it would; not according to man’s timetable.
3. By means of this triumphal entry Jesus fulfills the prophesy of Zechariah 9:9. When people hail Him as the Son of David, the Messiah, He does not try to refrain them.
4. However, He also shows them what kind of Messiah He is. He was not the earthly Messiah of Israel’s dreams, the One who wages war against an earthly oppressor. Instead, he would bring lasting peace, peace between God and man and between man and his fellow man.

29 And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples,

The record of the last week begins here. The time had arrived for Him to present Himself openly to the Jewish people as their Messiah-King. He would do this in fulfillment of the prophecy of *Zechariah 9:9.

Zechariah 9:9     Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.

On the way up from Jericho, Jesus came to the east side of the Mount of Olives where Bethany (means “house of the poor, humble, oppressed”) and Bethphage (means “house of unripe figs”) were located. From there the road skirted the south end of Olivet, dipped into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, crossed the Brook Kidron, and climbed up to Jerusalem. Bethany was about two miles east of Jerusalem and Bethphage was situated nearby. Jesus made this trip many times. He stayed in Bethany in the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and from there He was able to walk into Jerusalem to minister *(Matt. 21:17).

Mathew 21:17    Then He left them and went out of the city to Bethany.

He sent two of His disciples to Bethany with the foreknowledge that they would find a tethered donkey and a colt with her. He would make His entry into Jerusalem riding on a colt.

30 saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here.

Jesus was still in Bethany, therefore, the village opposite probably referred to Bethphage.

With perfect knowledge and complete authority, He told two of His disciples to go to Bethphage and to bring Him an unbroken colt that they would find tethered. Some commentators believe that Jesus’ knowledge of the animal’s presence, you will find a colt, assumes that previous contact had been made with the owner. Its description, on which no one has ever sat, relates to a custom from the Old Testament (Deut 21:3 and I Sam 6:7), which specifies that animals to be used for certain religious rites must not have previously been ridden, burdened, or harnessed for labor. The fact that the colt had never been ridden and yet submitted to Jesus indicates our Lord’s sovereignty over His creation.

*Matthew reveals that a mare was brought along also.

Matthew 21:7    They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them.

31 And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’ ”

They were to untie the colt and bring it to Jesus. If challenged, they were to explain that the Lord has need of it. Then the owner would consent. Perhaps the owner knew Jesus and had previously offered to help Him any time He needed assistance. It could be that He was saved because of Jesus teaching and was now a disciple of His. The phrase, Because the Lord has need of it, may have been a password. On the other hand, this incident may demonstrate the omniscience and supreme authority of the Lord. However, it is possible, but very doubtful, that Jesus would have supernaturally imparted such a reaction by the owner. The Bible does not tell why the owner lent his colt for this occasion, but we do know that everything happened just as Jesus had predicted.

32 So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them.

Everything happened as Jesus had predicted. They found the colt (young donkey) tied at a main intersection in the village.

The donkey was a royal animal, and the event was a coronation celebration for the King of the Universe, the Jew’s Messiah, and the Savior of all who will come to Him in faith. It was tradition for those who were to be crowned king to ride on a donkey. For example, David’s son Solomon rode a mule at his coronation according to *1 Kings 1:32–40. The donkey symbolized that Jesus came in peace.

Jesus also rode into the city on a young donkey. It was a common mode of transportation in His day. However, when Jesus entered Jerusalem in this manner He was fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. There the prophet predicted that when the King came to Israel, He would be sitting on a donkey’s colt.


1 Kings 1:32–40    And King David said, “Call to me Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.” So they came before the king. The king also said to them, “Take with you the servants of your lord, and have Solomon my son ride on my own mule, and take him down to Gihon. There let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel; and blow the horn, and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ Then you shall come up after him, and he shall come and sit on my throne, and he shall be king in my place. For I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and Judah.” Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king and said, “Amen! May the Lord God of my lord the king say so too. As the Lord has been with my lord the king, even so may He be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David.” So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule, and took him to Gihon. Then Zadok the priest took a horn of oil from the tabernacle and anointed Solomon. And they blew the horn, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” And all the people went up after him; and the people played the flutes and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth seemed to split with their sound.

33 But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?”

He told them exactly where they would find the animal and what the owners would say.

34 And they said, “The Lord has need of him.”

When challenged, the disciples replied as Jesus had told them. Then the people let them go. The requisitioning of the animals fulfilled predictions by Isaiah and Zechariah:

“Tell the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your King is coming to you,
Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

35 Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him.

The disciples made a cushion or saddle for the Lord with their own clothes, and then, they set Jesus on the back of the colt, and He rode onward to Jerusalem.  What an honor for the colt that he could be used for such a sacred purpose (see v.32).

36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.

Many had come to Jerusalem for the Passover feast, but now they lined the road from Bethany to Jerusalem anticipating the arrival of Jesus. As the Lord passed by, they spread their clothes and *palm branches on the road before Him. It was an act of honor and made a triumphal carpet. Their clothes refers to the long, thin outer robes they wore.

Although the colt had never been ridden before, it did not balk at carrying its Creator into Jerusalem. The Lord rode to the city on a carpet of clothes and palm branches with the acclamation of the people ringing in His ears. For a moment, at least, He was acknowledged as King. It was the only time our Lord permitted a public demonstration in His honor, and He did it to fulfill prophecy (Zech. 9:9) and turn the people’s hearts back to the Word of God. But they did not listen.

 

Palm Branches

Palm branches are a token of rest and peace after sorrow—“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands” (Rev. 7:9). Palm trees were among the earliest cultivated trees. They were a symbol of victory, beauty, and success. Images of the trees decorated the temple, and its branches were used as part of the Feast of Tabernacles’ celebration.
The people praised Jesus when he entered Jerusalem for the last time; they waved palm branches and laid them on the road to soften His path. When we look back at this event from our side of the cross, it would seem as if the people were acknowledging Jesus to be the One sent from God to save them from Roman cruelty and to give them rest and peace after the sorrow of their long years of Gentile oppression.

 

37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen,

With one accord, the followers of Jesus burst out in praise for all the mighty works they had seen Him do. It should be noted that those who sought to honor the Lord were pilgrims, not the residents of Jerusalem.

It is difficult to know exactly what this multitude thought about Jesus. Did they really understand that He was the Son of God and the Messiah of Israel? Or did they merely look upon Him as a King who would deliver them from Roman oppression? Were they carried away with the emotion of the hour? No doubt, some in the group were true believers, but the general impression is that most of the people had no real heart interest in the Lord.

The disciples did not realize that what was happening was in exact fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy, that Jesus was actually entering Jerusalem as the rightful King of Israel. But after the Lord had gone back to heaven to be glorified at the right hand of the Father, it dawned on the disciples that these events were in fulfillment of the Scriptures.


38 saying: “ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

The raising of Lazarus had caused great excitement in Jerusalem. Many who proclaimed Him as the King of Israel did so because of the miracle He performed in raising Lazarus. The Pharisees responded to this excitement by concluding that the world (everyone) is gone to join Him.

The multitudes shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.” This quotation from Psalm 118:25, 26 obviously applies to the Messiah’s advent (first coming). Hosanna originally meant “save now”; perhaps the people meant, “Save us from our Roman oppressors.” Later the term became an exclamation of praise. The phrases, “Son of David” and, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD,” both clearly indicate that Jesus was being recognized as the Messiah. He is the Blessed One who comes by Jehovah’s authority to do His will.

Mark’s account records that part of the crowd shouts the phrase, “Blessed is the kingdom of our Father David that comes in the name of the Lord” (Mark 11:10). This indicates that the people thought the kingdom was about to be set up with Christ sitting on the throne of David. In shouting, “Hosanna in the highest,” the crowd was calling on the heavens to join the earth in praising the Messiah, and perhaps calling on Him to save from the highest heavens. They hailed Him as God’s King, and chanted that the effect of His coming was peace in heaven and glory in the highest. It is significant that they cried “Peace in heaven” rather than “Peace on earth.” There could not be peace on earth because the Prince of Peace had been rejected and was soon to be slain. But there would be peace in heaven as a result of the impending death of Christ on Calvary’s cross and His ascension to heaven. Moreover, there is “peace with God,” thanks to *Christ’s work on the cross (Rom.5:1). *The appeal being made today is “Be ye reconciled to God” (*2 Cor. 5:17-21).

Romans 5:1    Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

The first great benefit enjoyed by those of us who have been justified by faith is peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The war is over. Hostilities have ceased. Through the work of Christ, all causes of hostility between our souls and God have been removed. We have been changed from foes to friends by a miracle of grace

2 Corinthians 5:17-21   Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 

Paul infers that if any man were in Christ, he is a new creature. When a man comes into vital union with the risen Lord, he is a “new creation.” “Old things are passed away.” There is a decisive break with the old life at the moment of salvation. Behold, all things have become new (literally, “new things have come to be”). And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ. To “reconcile” is to remove hostility between two enemy parties. In the strictest sense, it involves “a change of mind.” Since the sinner cannot do this for himself, God does it through Jesus Christ in His sacrificial death (Rom 5:9–10).

The crowd’s acclamation of our Lord is similar to that of the angels (Lk. 2:14). The image here is of the Messiah somehow manifesting God’s glory on earth. In a few days, the same people would be demanding Jesus’ execution (Lk. 23:1, 21).

In the crowd that watched Jesus entering Jerusalem were people who had seen Him raise Lazarus from the dead. They told the others around them that this One riding on the colt was the same One who had brought Lazarus back to life again. As the report of this notable sign spread, a great throng of people came out to meet Jesus. Unfortunately, their motive was curiosity rather than true faith.

As the crowd grew in size, and interest in the Savior mounted, the Pharisees were beside themselves. Nothing they could say or do had the slightest effect. With frenzied exaggeration, they cried out that the whole world had gone after Jesus. They did not realize that the interest of the crowd was but a passing thing, and that those who really were willing to worship Jesus as the Son of God were very few.

*Matthew informs us that Jesus healed many and had an encounter with the chief priests and scribes.

This is the only time that Jesus permitted a public demonstration on his behalf, and He did so for at least two reasons. First, He was fulfilling prophesy and presenting Himself as Israel’s King (*Zech 9:9). The second reason was to force the Jewish religious leaders to act. They had hoped to arrest Him after the Passover (Matt 26:3-5), but God had ordained that his Son should die on the Passover as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).

Zechariah 9:9     Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.
This royal procession of the victorious King is met with spontaneous shouts of exclamation from His people. It is the triumphant entry of the King, riding a donkey, coming to Jerusalem to dwell with His people (see Zech. 2:10). Chariots, warhorses, and weapons are no longer needed. This King, whose kingdom is the whole earth “from sea to sea, from the river to the ends of the earth,” brings with Him everlasting peace. This verse from the Old Testament, is a prophesy of the First Coming of Christ. It is used here to speak of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

 

The Shouts of the Crowd

1. “Hosanna”—which meant originally “Save, we pray” but which later became an exclamation of praise. Perhaps the people meant, “Save, we pray, from our Roman oppressors!”
2. “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD”—a clear recognition that Jesus was the promised Messiah (Psalm 118:26).
3. “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the Lord!”—they thought that the kingdom was about to be set up, with Christ sitting on the throne of David.
4. “Hosanna in the highest!”—a call to praise the Lord in the highest heavens, or for Him to save from the highest heavens.
 
39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”

Jesus took advantage of the large Passover crowd to present Himself as King (Zech. 9:9). He was forcing the Jewish leaders to act; for it was the Father’s will that Jesus die on Passover. The crowd cheered and worshipped Him, but they did not stay with Him. It is easier to shout in a parade than stand at a cross.

The Pharisees were in the crowd, and they were *indignant that Jesus should be publicly honored in this way. They suggested that He should rebuke His disciples. However, they did not arrest or harm Our Lord, because they were afraid that the tumult that would cause would bring Roman troops into action

Matthew 21:14–15    Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant. 

40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

Jesus answered the shouts of the Pharisees, saying that such praise was inevitable. If the disciples would not do it, the stones would! Therefore, He rebuked the Pharisees for being more hard and unresponsive than the inanimate stones.

41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,

These verses (41-44) are both an expression of grief and a prophecy. Christ grieves over His rejection and He predicts the city’s coming destruction. What was true of this city will also be true of each individual who rejects Christ. Jesus cared for them and He cares for men today.

As Jesus drew near to Jerusalem, He wept over the city that had missed its golden opportunity. If the people had only received Him as Messiah, it would have meant peace for them. But they did not recognize that He was the source of peace. Now it was too late. They had already determined what they would do with the Son of God. Because of their rejection of Him, their eyes were blinded. Because they would not see Him, they could no longer see Him.

Let’s pause here to reflect on the wonder of the Savior’s tears. As W. H. Griffith Thomas has said, “Let us sit at Christ’s feet until we learn the secret of His tears, and beholding the sins and sorrows of city and countryside, weep over them too.”

What a tragedy that the Jewish nation did not know their own King when He came to them! However, when He comes again, “will He really find faith on the earth” (18:8)? Our Lord wept, for He saw the terrible judgment that was coming to the city and the people.
 
42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.

They were uncertain what this meant, but the disciples understood these things after the ascension of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit, who called these things to their remembrance.

The people were blind to their Scriptures (Zech. 9:9). They praised Him with *Psalm 118:26 but overlooked verses *22–23, which Jesus quoted later (v. 42). Beware knowing the Bible but not knowing the Lord when He is at work in your midst.

Psalm 118:26      Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.

He that cometh was one of the usual titles for the Messiah among the Jews. We have blessed you out of the house of the LORD appears to be a benediction used by the priests of the Temple. It was their privilege to participate in a sacrificial system that pointed toward the day when the Messiah would come in the name of the LORD.

Psalm 118:22–23      The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.

The stone which the builders refused has become the head stone of the corner. Although this verse may refer to Israel or the Temple, it undoubtedly has as its primary focus the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He is the living stone, the precious stone. The Messiah that the Jews rejected will one day be anointed King on the throne of David. The Savior, which the world rejected, will one day be “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev 19:16). Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of His church, that which holds it together, and that upon which it is built. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. The resurrection and exalted position of the Lord Jesus were not the work of men, for they had rejected Him. It was the work of Almighty God.

“In this your day”—means that there is still time to repent, but Jesus knows that very few will do it. Peace is another way of expressing what “salvation” implies. The city that has rejected God’s messengers (Lk. 11:50, 51) is no longer capable of discerning that this is their last chance.

43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side,
44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Jesus gave a solemn preview of the siege of Titus—how that Roman general would surround the city, trap the inhabitants, massacre both young and old, and level the walls and buildings. Not one stone would be left upon another. And it was all because Jerusalem did not know the time of its visitation. The Lord had visited the city with the offer of salvation. But the people did not want Him. They had no room for Him in their scheme of things.

*Mark 11:11 records that, once in Jerusalem, Jesus went to the temple—not inside the temple but into the courtyard. Presumably, it was the house of God, but He was not at home in this temple because the priests and people refused to give Him His rightful place. After looking around briefly, the Savior withdrew to Bethany with the twelve. It was Sunday evening.

Mark 11:11     And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.

It should be remembered that the so-called Triumphal Entry ended at the cross. Christ will come the second time in triumph. Hebrews 9:28 says, “So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” The second time the Lord will come to earth; His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4). Then the Lord will enter Jerusalem. His true Triumphal Entry will be at the Second Coming. His first entry into Jerusalem took him to the cross to die for our sins. By His death and resurrection, salvation is offered to all.

 

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