Humble Details

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

Mark 11:1-11

I was interested on reading Mark’s version of this story to see Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a colt, rather than a donkey. The internet tells me that, like with horses, a young donkey is called a colt. Mark also makes a point of telling us that the colt has never been ridden. Clearly the youth of the donkey is important. Now, most of the commentaries I found were more concerned with the number of donkeys over the significance of a colt. However, one pastor pointed out that if Jesus riding a donkey highlighted his humility (discussed in more detail here), His riding such a young one would highlight it even more. Riding an untrained donkey is the epitome of humble origins. And, combined with the account in Matthew describing a mother donkey and her colt, imagine Jesus riding the colt which was being led by it’s mother. How ridiculous that would have looked compared to the Roman kings! Still, I suspect there may be other symbolism with this colt that I’m not well enough educated in Biblical history to spot.

I also noticed this time that Jesus did not stay in Jerusalem. By the time His parade was over, He only had time to look around the temple, and then He went and stayed in Bethany. Why? Why leave after such a triumphal entry? Well, from a practical standpoint, in Jerusalem the Pharisees and company had a lot of power, and they were already mad a Jesus. It may have been safer to stay outside, or there may have been nobody friendly to Jesus for him to stay with. Or it could be yet another statement in humility. Instead of staying in the glamorous city with some rich patron, Jesus chose to stay in what I’m assuming was a more modest dwelling in the more countrified town of Bethany. An unexpected move for a man the people were expecting to act as a King.

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