As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.“
This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said, “Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey—riding on a donkey’s colt.'”
The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it.
Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!”
The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked. And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Jesus and the disciples head toward Jerusalem from Bethany. They will soon come over the ridge and take in the breathtaking panorama of the Temple and the surrounding city. Jesus says, “Go into that village, Bethphage, and you’ll see a donkey and its colt. Untie them and bring them here. When the people ask what you are doing, tell them that I need them now.”
Matthew Henry says, “On no side hath Christ left himself without a full and plain testimony” after rehearsing the testimony of an august list witnesses:
Moses – “the seed of the woman, who shall bruise the serpent’s head”
Jacob – “the Shiloh of the tribe of Judah”
David – “the King of glory”
Isaiah – “Immanuel, Wonderful, the mighty God, the Prince of peace”
Jeremiah – “the righteous Branch”
Daniel – “the Messiah”
John the Baptist – “the Lamb of God”
God – “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”
& devils – “I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God”
Heaven was so loud, the people were simply joining in singing David’s expectant song that had resonated from the Temple for centuries, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
That is what Heaven and the people were shouting. But our purpose here is to hear Jesus’ voice as He said to His disciples, “Go into the town there and you’ll see a donkey and its colt. Untie them. The owner will ask what you are doing but just tell him who wants them and bring them here.“
We don’t have any narrative for what was going through the minds of the disciples. It is possible they are just a little numb at this point. A lot has happened, for example, Lazarus back from the dead, repeated warnings that Jesus is going to die. Events are accelerating toward Passover and the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Nevertheless, they do what they are told and they help set up the scene. The donkey was a common mode of transportation. It surely didn’t speak of the entry of a conquering King. That would require a magnificent stallion. Rather than a conqueror this was the triumphant entry of a judge bringing justice and mercy rather than domination.
Jesus, Who created all the people and all the donkeys and could have gotten more with just a quick, “Let there be…,“ is actually asking for help arranging the transportation for an event. And the event only becomes significant to the disciples when the crowd begins to usher this humble prophet/judge into the city with waving branches and loud cries.
There is one profoundly simple message from this scene. Through natural eyes it would be confusing from just about every point of view. The unavoidable message to the twice-born: Jesus knows what He is doing and we don’t. But He wants to share it with us. He is God and we aren’t. But He wants to teach us His ways. Therefore, obedience is the only gate through which we may see His perspective, His reasons, His purpose.
Obedience to what Jesus shows us is like laying one brick upon another. The picture that He sees is a construction site. The Cornerstone must be placed, perfect in every aspect, line and angle. Once that is done, then the whole house is built with the understanding that each stone must be laid in perfect alignment to that Cornerstone.
All the apostles said in one way or another that we are “living stones,” being built into a house for God. We are His House, His Household, His Body, His Family and the foundational basis for that identification is that we have yielded to be aligned with the Cornerstone of the House, the first Stone laid and the last word on the proper Structure.
John the Baptist refused to do what Jesus had instructed! (The first Red Letters) John was a man of deep religious convictions and strong opinions and out of those, he was compelled to say, “No way! I can’t do that.” Jesus’ words to John were, “This must be done in order to put things in the right order.“
That was before Jesus had healed the lepers and the blind, set the spiritual captives free and raised the dead. Now, back to the present context, the disciples have seen all those miracles. It is close to the completion of Jesus’ physical installation as the Cornerstone and after seeing and hearing all He’s done in fulfillment of Scripture, there seems to be very little resistance from those on the Team. They are still not seeing the complete picture, but at least they have learned this most pervasively simple wisdom – just do what Jesus says.