”And when they came nigh 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 loose 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.”— Mark 11:1-7

It is five days until the Lord Jesus will be crucified and our Saviour has reached the outskirts of Jerusalem. Here amongst the villages that dotted the approach to the Jews’ ancient capital He pauses and prepares for what will be a prophecy-fulfilling entrance into the city proper. Many years before, Isaiah and Zechariah had glimpsed this moment. The prophets knew by divine revelation that when the King of kings came to Zion, glory and gentleness, majesty and meekness, would characterise His arrival.

Fulfilled prophecy

Anticipating this moment Zechariah had written, ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass’. Isaiah declared, ‘Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him’.

The coming Messiah

We are reminded that our Lord Jesus Christ did not arrange His actions to fulfil prophecy. That would be to misunderstand the proper order of things. Rather, the prophets of old were given insight into what Jesus would do when He came. They were given glimpses of the future to encourage believers in their own age, prepare the church in the Old Testament for their coming Messiah, and to bear witness to the true identity of the Lord Jesus, and the meaning of His work.

Divinely ordered events

Matthew speaks of an ass and its colt revealing there were two animals. Mark and Luke mention only the colt. Both were present. When the colt was untied and led away by the disciples the dam followed, and both were ridden upon by the Lord into the city as the prophet foretold.

Omniscience

The Lord’s divinity appears in his knowledge of the whereabouts of the ass and colt, the question set by the owners, and the answer to be supplied by the disciples. Even if the owners were followers of the Lord, it is clear the events of this day were precisely ordered and wonderfully arranged, even to the riding of an unbroken and untamed colt. Do not let that detail pass you by.

His work before Him

As the Lord Jesus approached Jerusalem His great mission loomed before Him. Eager as He was to be about the business of saving His people and winning His Bride, the knowledge of His suffering, pain and sin-bearing must have weighed heavily upon Him. Isaiah’s point about Christ’s work being before Him should not be missed. What marvellous love drove our Great King forward, not to the earthly kingdom envisaged by His disciples, but to blood redemption for His people, and salvation for our souls.

Christ unrecognised

A donkey for a king is more suggestive of mocking a vanquished foe than arriving in majesty to claim a victor’s crown. In Jesus’ time the streets of Jerusalem echoed with the footsteps of marching soldiers and the clatter of Roman horses and chariots. The Saviour brought no army to His coronation. Yet, here is the King of glory, seated on an ass, purposefully displaying the humility of a servant; the attitude of meekness and lowliness that characterised His whole life as the Lamb of God. Having walked His whole ministry Jesus choose this moment to travel by donkey. Why now?
The silent testimony of a subdued donkey

In Christ’s humility there was hidden strength and resolve. Our blessed Saviour was determined to finish the task set before Him, and to secure the victory that would follow. The multitude of visitors to the feast knew Him not, the residents of Jerusalem, the scribes and the Pharisees, Pilate, Herod and all their soldiers failed to see the true identity of the Godman as He made His way towards the city and to the cross. Even His own followers struggled to grasp His purpose.

But underneath Him an unbroken colt walked placidly and subdued into Jerusalem through the boisterous and cheering crowds and up to the temple, carrying on its back its Creator to His triumph.

Amen

Peter Meney



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