Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Christ’s Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem
THE following morning, Sunday, Nisan 9, Jesus leaves Bethany with his disciples and heads over the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem. In a short time, they draw close to Bethphage, located on the Mount of Olives. Jesus instructs two of his disciples:
“Be on your way into the village that is within sight of you, and you will at once find an ass tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. And if someone says anything to you, you must say, ‘The Lord needs them.’ At that he will immediately send them forth.”
Although at first the disciples fail to discern that these instructions have anything to do with the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, later they realize that they do. The prophet Zechariah foretold that God’s promised King would ride into Jerusalem on an ass, yes, “even upon a full-grown animal the son of a she-ass.” King Solomon had similarly ridden to his anointing on the offspring of an ass.
When the disciples enter Bethphage and take the colt and its mother, some of those standing by say: “What are you doing?” But when told that the animals are for the Lord, the men let the disciples take them to Jesus. The disciples place their outer garments on the mother ass and on her offspring, but Jesus mounts the colt.
As Jesus rides toward Jerusalem, the crowd increases. Most of the people spread their outer garments on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them out. “Blessed is the One coming as the King in Jehovah’s name!” they cry. “Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest places!”
Some Pharisees in the crowd are upset by these proclamations and complain to Jesus: “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” But Jesus replies: “I tell you, If these remained silent, the stones would cry out.”
As Jesus draws close to Jerusalem, he views the city and begins to weep over it, saying: “If you, even you, had discerned in this day the things having to do with peace—but now they have been hid from your eyes.” For her willful disobedience, Jerusalem must pay the price, as Jesus foretells:
“Your enemies [the Romans under General Titus] will build around you a fortification with pointed stakes and will encircle you and distress you from every side, and they will dash you and your children within you to the ground, and they will not leave a stone upon a stone in you.” This destruction of Jerusalem foretold by Jesus actually occurs 37 years later, in 70 C.E.
Just a few weeks earlier, many in the crowd had seen Jesus resurrect Lazarus. Now these keep telling others about that miracle. So when Jesus enters Jerusalem, the whole city is set in commotion. “Who is this?” people want to know. And the crowds keep telling: “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee!” Seeing what is happening, the Pharisees lament that they are getting absolutely nowhere, for, as they say: “The world has gone after him.”
As is his custom on visits to Jerusalem, Jesus goes to the temple to teach. There the blind and the lame come to him, and he cures them! When the chief priests and the scribes see the marvelous things Jesus is doing and when they hear the boys in the temple crying out, “Save, we pray, the Son of David!” they are angry. “Do you hear what these are saying?” they protest.
“Yes,” Jesus replies. “Did you never read this, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have furnished praise’?”
Jesus continues teaching, and he looks around upon all things in the temple. Soon it is late. So he leaves, along with the 12, and travels back the two miles [3 km] or so to Bethany. There he spends Sunday night, probably in the home of his friend Lazarus. Matthew 21:1-11, 14-17; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19; Zechariah 9:9.
◆ When and in what manner does Jesus enter Jerusalem as King?
◆ How vital is it that the crowds praise Jesus?
◆ How does Jesus feel when he views Jerusalem, and what prophecy does he utter?
◆ What happens when Jesus goes to the temple?