devotion 8-26-14

Mark 11:1-11

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2and said to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.” ’ 4They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5some of the bystanders said to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’ 6They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

For some time, Jesus has said he was going up to Jerusalem; Mark has listed three times that he told the disciples what would happen there. They did not understand. Now, at last, they come to Jerusalem – but they pause at a small village a few miles away, over the Mount of Olives. Jesus tells the disciples to go into the village and borrow a donkey, a young colt that has never been ridden. Again, he tells them exactly what will happen – in a more immediate situation. Someone will ask them why they are taking the donkey, for in a village everyone knows who an animal belongs to; but they are simply to say, “The Master has need of it” and to tell them it will be returned, and they will not protest. And this happens exactly as Jesus has said, and they bring him the donkey.

Jesus rides into the city on the colt, a reference to the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9:

9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!

Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

And all of Jesus’ followers treat him as a king – they shout Hosannah, spread branches on the ground before him, and even lay their cloaks on the road. They shout “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Psalm 118) Jesus fulfills the scriptures; he enters Jerusalem, both humbly and as her king.

A note here – the people who greet Jesus as king, shouting Hosannah, on the entry into Jerusalem are his followers, not a random crowd. It is not the same crowd that will appear before Pilate later that week. The city is crowded, as the Passover nears; people are coming into the gate from all directions. At almost the same time that Jesus enters, from the Mount of Olives to the South-East, Pilate is entering from the West, mounted on a white stallion, and surrounded by his army. He always came from Caesarea to Jerusalem on the holidays, with a show of force, to control the crowds.

photo is Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives today

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