Lesson 91: Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
Matt: 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:29-44, John 12:12-19
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson # 91. Jesus apparently arrived at Bethany on Friday evening and spent the sabbath day with Lazarus, Martha and Mary. They had a supper for Jesus in the house of Simon the leper somewhere around Bethany, probably on Saturday night, i.e. after sun down which was technically Sunday or the first day of the week the way they counted time. On the Jewish calendar the month was Nisan, the first month of the religious year. Nisan started on a new moon like all Jewish months. The passover started on the 14th of Nisan or on the full moon and continued through the 21st of Nisan, i.e. one full week, or on our calendar it was probably April 2nd thru Apr. 9th of AD 33. The passover commemorated the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, i.e. when the death angel passed over the first born of all Egypt where the blood had been put on the door posts and lentils. The festival was a week long; but, the passover feast was observed on 21st day of Nisan; which was on a Friday in AD 33. This was the same annual festival as the one that Jesus attended when he was 12 years old, in Luke ch. 2. Some time on Sunday, April 2nd or 15th of Nisan, Jesus went into Jerusalem and visited the temple. Apparently multitudes were waiting for Jesus to enter the city on that first day of the week. Some "thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear", as Luke said in 19:11. Others were expecting Jesus to be arrested by the captain of the temple, in the name of the Sanhedrin council. This is sometimes referred to as Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem and called Palm Sunday by our Catholic friends and others, although that is NOT a Bible term. This occasion fulfilled prophecy in the O.T. This is recorded by all four writes; so, let's take them in order. We'll start with Matt. 21:1-11. Are you ready? Let's read Matthew beginning in 21:1. "And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say aught unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strewed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee."
Bethphage was very near to Bethany. That is apparently the village where the ass was tied. The person from whom Jesus borrowed this donkey was apparently a disciple and likely Jesus had worked out the details ahead. The ass or mule was a symbol of royalty. In the O.T., kings were anointed and rode into the city on an ass i.e. a mule. For example, when Solomon became king he rode into the city, parade style, on David's mule (I Kings 1:33). The prophecy quoted in v.5 comes from Isa. 62:11.
Let's read Mark's account; Mark 11:1-11. If you have that, let's read, beginning in Mark 11:1. "And when they came high to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither. And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loosed him. And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him. And many spread their garments in the way; and others cut down branches off the trees, and strewed them in the way. And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest. And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve."
Of course, the Pharisees and the scribes of the council were watching and taking everything in; but, they made no attempt to lay a hand on Jesus because of the crowds. Let's read Luke's account. Luke 19:29-44. Let's read from Luke, are you ready? Beginning in Luke 19:29, "And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them. And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? And they said, The Lord hath need of him. And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way and when he was come nigh, even now at 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 that they had seen; saying; Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation." Some of the Pharisees did not like it that the disciples were singing and praising Jesus as the messiah (v.39); but they made no attempt to arrest Jesus. When Jesus came to the crest of the hill, called the mount of Olives, and saw the city, Jesus wept. This and the occasion at the tomb of Lazarus are the only two times we have recorded when Jesus shed tears. The mount that is called Olivet is higher than the city on which Jerusalem and the temple were built. The mount of Olives is on the north and east of Jerusalem and located between Bethany and Jerusalem, if you want to glance at your map. There is a creek called the Kidron valley that separates the mount of Olives from the temple and the city of Jerusalem. When Jesus came to the point on the mount of Olives that Jerusalem came into view; Jesus wept over the city. Jesus had come to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10); but, he was rejected of the very leaders themselves and condemned to die for the nation for no transgression whatsoever. And, Jesus realizing he must die for the very people who rejected him; Jesus shed tears in the sight of the city. In v.41-42-43, Jesus gave a prophetic historical statement of the future of the city of Jerusalem, because they rejected the messiah sent from God. In the fall of AD 70, about 37^ years later, one generation later, it happened exactly as Jesus prophesied in these words. The Romans came and surrounded the city of Jerusalem and would not let anyone in or out of the city until the people began to die with hunger. Finally, they besieged the city, burned it to the ground, destroyed the temple and plowed the city. Josephus recorded this battle and the war that provoked it. And, as Jesus said in v.44, they did not leave one stone upon another that was not thrown down. The temple was the center of the Jewish worship. Jesus said he came to fulfill the law and the •prophets. It had been prophesied for centuries that a messiah would come (Deut. 18:18); that a new covenant would be given (Jer. 31:31ff), that a new kingdom would be set up (Dan. 2:44). But, because the Jews refused to accept the messiah, God permitted the city and the temple, the center of the Jewish worship to be destroyed, wiped off the map. Jesus foretold that destruction in these verses; although, it pained Jesus very much to have to think of those things.
Let's read John's account! John 12:12-19, eight more verses. We'll begin reading in John 12:12, are you ready? "On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt. These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him."
The Pharisees couldn't believe after they had threatened excommunication from their synagogues and had issued commands that the people were to report the whereabouts of Jesus; that so many people simply ignored their commands. They said (in v.19), "behold, the world is gone after him." Yet they persisted in destroying the very messiah that they as a people were looking for.
Now, to close out this lesson; let's do a brief review and try to bring all four accounts together. After staying over the sabbath day, which was Saturday, with his friend Lazarus; on Sunday, the first day of the week, Jesus and the apostles got ready and went to the temple. No special activity is reported at the temple; they simply made a trip there, looked around, and returned to Bethany. Mark said very simply, "Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked around about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve." (Mark 11:11). It was the first day of the passover festival, we would say. It was not the festival; but the mere fact of Jesus' entering into the city that got most attention that day. As Jesus left Bethany he sent two disciples, (we don't know which two); but, he sent them to a little community called Bethphage, which literally means "the house of figs", to get a mule (we would say). In the KJV it is called an ass. The disciples followed Jesus' instruction and brought the beast as Jesus requested. We don't know the connection with the owner from which Jesus borrowed the animal; but, it stands to reason that as many disciples as were then in Jerusalem, that someone was willing to provide the mule for Jesus. There was a large multitude of disciples and others that followed Jesus, in what we might think of as a parade. When they came to the top of the hill called the mount of Olives and Jerusalem came into view; Jesus was very sad at the sight of the city and out of compassion for the city began to weep. And, they may have even stopped at that point on the brow of the mountain as they viewed the city a few minutes. But, as they started over the mount of Olives and began to descend into the Kidron valley; many people at the temple and in Jerusalem saw the parade coming. The people of the city began to come in droves across the valley and up the hill to meet Jesus. John said, "when they heard that Jesus was coming into Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord." It was not the disciples and/or the crowd that was with Jesus that did the yelling and singing so much as those that began to come from the city to meet Jesus. Seeing a great multitude of people go running across the valley and up the mount of Olives to meet Jesus was a great sight. The Pharisees and those that were plotting to kill Jesus said to themselves (John 12:19), "Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him." When the two multitudes met on the side of the mount Olivet; they began to lay palm branches and their garments in the path of the donkey for Jesus to ride over. It was a way of showing respect to a King. Matthew said, "a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strewed them in the way. And the multitude that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest." (Matt. 21:8-9). It is estimated that the crowd at a passover was about half of the population of Judea and Galilee, each year. The people were singing and praising God as Jesus rode down the mountain on the colt. The word "Hosanna" meant "save now" or "save we pray." It came from the Psalms of the O.T. and at the time of Jesus, it had become a statement of praise rather than a prayer. All of this, the riding on the mule and the singing etc.; was prophesied in the O.T. But, you must realize that in the midst of all this activity; that was not understood at the moment. John, who as you know, was one of the apostles and walked down that mountain; no doubt, following close to Jesus, says this was NOT understood and realized until later. In 12:16, John said: "These things UNDERSTOOD NOT his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified [i.e. after Jesus arose from the dead] then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him." John further says that the multitude that was present when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead made up part of the crowd on the occasion of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem and they "bare record" (v.17), i.e. they were some of the first to make this connection. Notice, in that same verse, how John remembered Jesus raising Lazarus, "he called Lazarus out of his grave." Until our next study, have a good day.