June 24 – On the Way to Jerusalem and the Cross

Mark 11: 1 – 11 NLT

“Jesus’ Triumphant Entry

As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. 2 “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it and will return it soon.’”

4 The two disciples left and found the colt standing in the street, tied outside the front door. 5 As they were untying it, some bystanders demanded, “What are you doing, untying that
colt?” 6 They said what Jesus had told them to say, and they were permitted to take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it.

8 Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,

“Praise God!
Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD!

10 Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David! Praise God in highest heaven!”

11 So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. After looking around carefully at everything, he left because it was late in the afternoon. Then he returned to Bethany with the twelve disciples.”

Try to picture this scene as Jesus enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey. People are shouting as they lay garments and leaves on the road before him, a kind of ‘red carpet’. This is like a parade for an extremely important person. Look again at what they were shouting. They have seen Jesus do amazing things – feed thousands of people, heal people, cast out demons, even raise Lazarus from the dead (Lazarus who lives in Bethany about 2 miles from Jerusalem). What do you think they are hoping Jesus will do? Notice that they say, “Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David!” Remember that they are coming to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, a celebration of freedom from Egypt’s rule. At this moment in time, it’s a celebration of past freedom and sadness about the current Roman rule. Will Jesus free them from Rome? Is that what they were thinking?

Sometimes as I read commentaries, I just have to copy them for you. I couldn’t possibly say it better. Here is Francis Chan’s comment about Jesus riding the donkey into Jerusalem in his small group study on Mark”

“Jesus instructed his disciples to find a colt that had never been ridden and bring it back to him before he entered Jerusalem (Mark 11:1–3). Matthew and Luke tell us that it was the colt of a donkey. Why a donkey, and one that had not yet been ridden?

Animals that had never been ridden were considered suitable for sacramental purposes, as seen in Numbers 19:2 and Deuteronomy 21:3, in which they were sacrificed to atone for another’s sin. In 1 Samuel 6:7, two milk cows that had never been yoked (made to work in labor) were conscripted to pull the ark of the covenant back to Israel. By choosing to ride an animal thus far set apart from common work, Jesus added an element of sacrament and sacredness to his entry to the city.

Though we see the donkey as a lowly animal, in the Middle East it was considered a noble creature. Judges rode on donkeys (Judges 10:4, 2 Sam. 17:23) as well as royalty (2 Sam. 19:26). The donkey also denoted a king approaching in peace (whereas, a king riding a horse was declaring war).

So Jesus, by riding into Jerusalem on a never-before-ridden donkey, declared himself the Messiah—a savior coming in peace, not to overcome the Romans. He dramatically re-enacted the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The people—including the disciples—failed to recognize that he was coming not as a warrior but as the Prince of Peace. Their joyful adulation, while rightly directed at their savior, anticipated the wrong kind of salvation.”

Jesus’ view of power is going to turn the world view upside down, just as he did when talking about leadership. Jesus doesn’t enter Jerusalem riding on a horse ready for battle. His world view is about peace. He knows he is going to face torture and a horrifying death, and he won’t stop it or defend himself – even though he could. In 2020, our view of influencing others involves control. We run the show; we set the rules.

Are we willing to let God be in control of our lives? Are we willing to follow God’s leading even when it doesn’t seem to be what we had planned or expected? Something to think and pray about.

One Reply to “June 24 – On the Way to Jerusalem and the Cross”

  1. I did not know the history of donkey/horse, peace/war symbolism. Very interesting in terms of the humility and peace that we are to lead with trusting God every step of the way. thx

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