Mark 11:1-11 Jesus Rides A Donkey
1. The Passover holiday was approaching. Many people were going up to Jerusalem. Even the Lord Jesus was going to Jerusalem with his disciples. But, the Lord was not going to Jerusalem just for pilgrimage. The Gospel According To Mark, in chapter ten and verse thirty-two, reads like this:
"While they were going up to Jerusalem, Jesus was moving ahead standing at the lead. In seeing this the disciples were surprised and those following were afraid," (10:32).
3. The appearance of the Lord was different from normal. On his face an incomparable resolve must have distinctly been visible. There was no one to ask the Lord why. Everyone just saw the Lord like he was and felt afraid. Gathering his fearful disciples together, the Lord said this:
"Now, we are going up to Jerusalem. The son of man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes. They will pronounce the death penalty and hand [him] over to the Gentiles. The Gentiles will mock the son of man, spit on him, and beat him with a whip, then kill him. Then, the son of man will rise from the dead after three days," (10:33-34).
5. The Lord thus told his disciples what was about to happen to him. This wasn't the first time that the Lord had spoken on his suffering and crucifixion in these words. In this gospel account this is the third time. The disciples may have acted like they didn't bother to keep the Lord's words in their minds. It must have been because the Lord's getting killed was something the disciples didn't want to think about. But, the Lord kept on going to Jerusalem with a figure so determined that the disciples felt fear.
6. Today's biblical passage tells us of the events of when the Lord Jesus was approaching the capital city and when he arrived. We should not separate this passage from the prophecy of the passion which the Lord repeatedly gave. The Lord came to Jerusalem to be killed. In order to get there and be killed, the Lord was looking for a donkey colt. In order to head for the cross, the Lord rode on a donkey colt. In order to be delivered up, pronounced with the death penalty, mocked, spit upon, beaten with a whip, and killed, he had to go on through the jubilant voices of the people resounding so loudly. Today we want to think deeply once again on what that means.
The Lord Requires It
7. First I will read you from verse one to verse six.
"When the group came close to Jerusalem and approached Bethphage and Bethany at the foot of Mount Olive, Jesus ordered out two of his disciples for a task and said, 'Go to the village across you. As soon as you enter the village, you will find a donkey colt that no one has ever ridden tied up. Untie it and bring it to me. If anyone should say, 'Why are you doing that?' please say, 'The Lord requires it. [We] will bring it back here right away.' When the two man went out, as they found at the door on a main street a donkey colt tied, they untied it. Then, some people who happened to be there said, 'Why are you untying this colt?' When the two men spoke as the Lord had told them to, they gave them permission," (verses one through six).
8. There is in this passage a strange imbalance. On the one hand, the Lord conducts himself like a king. "The Lord requires it." In saying that, the matter is settled. There is an authority in the words of the Lord when he commanded, please say "The Lord requires it." He has an authority like that of a king. This gospel of Mark begins with the words, "The beginning of the gospel of the son of God Jesus Christ," (1:1). And, this son of God Jesus Christ was now about to enter triumphantly into the citadel of Jerusalem as its true king. We could certainly say that this figure of a king was appropriate for the son of God.
9. However, the scriptures tell us the kind of donkey colt it was that the Lord Jesus required when he sent forth his disciples with his royal authority. What the king required was a donkey colt that no one had ever yet ridden. It was one borrowed donkey that the son of God needed upon his entering triumphantly into Jerusalem as king. And since he is only going to borrow it, he promises to return it. The more you think about it, the stranger it seems.
10. But, this strange imbalance is really but a fulfillment of the words the prophets once gave. Zechariah 9:9 has this recorded in it:
"O Zion my daughter, dance big. O Jerusalem my daughter, lift up jubilant voices. Behold, your king is coming. He will obey God, [he will] be given victory, not high minded, but he comes riding a donkey, he rides a donkey that is the foal of a female donkey," (Zechariah 9:9).
12. This phrase "not high minded" doesn't simply mean "he is humble." In many passages like Psalm ten it is translated instead as "poor." It is a word that expresses the misery of the poor who are made to suffer by the wealthy and the arrogant. If you translate even stronger, it is a word you could translate as "miserable" or "shabby." Zechariah prophecies that that is the figure of the king to come.
13. The son of God the true king was heading for Jerusalem as a poor person. This very figure as a poor person was none other than the figure of the Lord heading for his appearance in the poorest death, the most miserable death on a cross. And that it was the fulfillment of a prophecy means that it had the will of God in it. God the Father approved it. God wanted the death of his son, the miserable death upon the cross. And because of the Lord's love for God the Father he would conform to his will.
14. In saying this the Lord Jesus was not saying that he could not successfully escape death on the cross because of his conflicts with the authorities in Jerusalem. The Lord came to Jerusalem in order to be crucified and killed. He rode a donkey and went towards Jerusalem in order to be crucified and killed. Because he knew that that is where the will of God was at, he boldly did this.
Through The Jubilant Shouts
15. As we go on, I am reading to you from verses seven on.
"When the two men brought the foal, returned to Jesus, and put their clothes on it, Jesus rode it. Many people spread their clothes on the road and many others cut branches with leaves from the field and came and spread them on the road. Then those going ahead and those following behind shouted 'Hosanna. Blessed be the One coming in the name of the Lord. Blessed be the kingdom to come of our Father David. Hosanna to the highest.' Thus, after Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, entered the temple grounds, and looked around at the situation in the area, since it had become evening now, he went out to Bethany bringing the twelve along with him," (verses seven through eleven).
16. Those who did not know the will of the Lord Jesus as he headed for the cross spread their clothes on the road as if they were celebrating the enthronement of a king, and they came with cut down branches with leaves attached and spread them on the road. Then, while they madly lifted their jubilant voices they welcomed the Lord Jesus. They shouted, "Hosanna. Blessed be the one coming in the name of the Lord."
17. It just might be that their madness is not impossible to understand. As I stated earlier, this scene is right before the Passover feast. There is an explanation for the origin of the Passover festival in Exodus chapter twelve. It was connected with the event of their liberation from Egypt. Most people know how God set the Israelites free. On that day the Israelites dabbed the blood of a lamb on the lintels and pillars to the entrances to their houses. God ordered that so. And the judgment of God passed over the houses that were dabbed in the blood and judgment visited upon the Egyptian houses. That's how Israel was set free from Egypt. The memorial to that was the Passover holiday.
18. As time passed, in the days of the Lord Jesus, Israel was under Roman rule. They weren't slaves of the Romans, but many people longed for liberation from Rome. The situation in which they were placed, in their minds, overlapped with the situation of their forefathers who were once in Egypt. They believed the day would come when a mighty royal messiah would appear, topple Rome, and set them free. And it was Passover when patriotism and their expectancy for freedom would flare up in their hearts. The Lord Jesus appeared, of whom it was rumored that he would cause a miracle towards that end. Even more, before coming to Jerusalem when he passed through Jericho he had healed the blind man Bartimaeus. He too was among that party. We can readily agree that the people were energetic and frenzied in talking about him approaching Jerusalem. They thought that he indeed was the messiah in the form of a liberator and that he was the one to bring back the Davidic throne.
19. Such expectancy caused the jubilant shouts some time ago. "Hosanna. Blessed be the One coming in the name of the Lord. Blessed be the kingdom to come of our Father David. Hosanna to the highest," (verses nine and ten).
20. "Hosanna" means "please save us." They shouted like that and welcomed in the Lord. The people shouted seeking for salvation from Roman rule. They shouted for salvation from poverty and disease. They did. They thought that they'd be saved if delivered from their different types of oppression and suffering. But, let's be realistic. If you get out from under one type of suffering another one takes its place. If they escaped one government they will discover themselves under the rule of another power. If losing a set of troubles is salvation, no one would ever be saved. The Lord knew where the real problem was. Even if humanity were set free from worldly oppressions, humanity would be under the rule of sin as long as it forces its will and way through and opposes God. And as long as it is not set free from the rule of sin, humankind will not be saved. The real problem is not the reality visible to the eye. That's not it, rather it lies in the reality of being severed from God and in the rule of sin that certainly exists even though it is usually hidden from human view.
21. The Lord must have known that the jubilant shouts of the people would soon change to a shout of "crucify him." The sin of humanity loves the darkness and hates the light. The sin of humanity seeks for its own will to be dominant and is contrary to the will of God. A dreadful hatred and animosity lurking within humankind will crucify even the son of God and end up killing him. The Lord Jesus surely knew that the sin of humanity would come to show its true nature because he had come.
22. But, it was for this very reason to save us from such a rule of sin that the Lord came. The Lord once said this to his disciples, "The son of man did not come in order to be served but to serve and to offer his life as a ransom for many people," (10:45). The Lord had intended to offer his life as the price so that humanity would be set free from the rule of sin and death and would come to live under the rule of God. The Lord knew exactly what kind of death he would take upon himself in order to do that. But, because of the love which the Lord had for us, he dared to plow on the path of the cross to save us. In order to be delivered over, to be sentenced with the death penalty, to be mocked and spat upon, whipped and killed, he proceeded on through the jubilant voices of the people resounding so loudly.
23. And so we bring in Passion week. Today, which is its first day, we want to deeply ponder over the love for God that burned in the Lord as he so headed for Jerusalem and also his love for us. And, we want to spend this week in asking what does it mean to follow such a Lord as this.