040514Mark 11:1–11—Palm Sunday

1 As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany, on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. 2 “Go into that village over there,” he told them, “and as soon as you enter it, you will see a colt tied there that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs it and will return it soon.’ ” 4 The two disciples left and found the colt standing in the street, tied outside a house. 5 As they were untying it, some bystanders demanded, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They said what Jesus had told them to say, and they were permitted to take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it. 8 Many in the crowd spread their coats on the road ahead of Jesus, and others cut leafy branches in the fields and spread them along the way. 9 He was in the center of the procession, and the crowds all around him were shouting,

“Praise God!
Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10    Bless the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Praise God in highest heaven!”

11 So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. He looked around carefully at everything, and then he left because it was late in the afternoon. Then he went out to Bethany with the twelve disciples.

Points of Interest:

  • ‘They said what Jesus had told them to say’—Jesus gives them a small miracle of being provided a donkey. This little miracle is a little reminder of the trustworthiness of Jesus’ words. It’s especially important in the following days that they remember and believe Jesus’ words.
  • ‘the colt’—Jesus is self-consciously fulfilling a prophecy about the Messiah. It was written by the prophet Zechariah (9:9): ‘Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—even on a donkey’s colt.’
  • ‘spread their coats on the road’—They are using their own coats to lay down a carpet for Jesus’ arrival. It honors Jesus—even the feet of his donkey shouldn’t have to touch the ground—and it keeps down the dust. This action refers back to the Isaiah quote from the very first passage: ‘Prepare a pathway of the Lord’s coming!’
  • ‘Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’—the crowds are shouting Psalm 118. Psalm 118 was a common psalm to be sung during the period of the Passover; so it would have been on the minds of the crowd. The crowds are welcoming Jesus in a similar way to how all pilgrims were welcomed, but there is an anticipation of something great in Jesus’ arrival that is extraordinary. The crowds add on to the psalm the phrase about David’s kingdom, showing that they know Jesus’ lineage and that they are expecting something kingly and David-like of him.

Taking it Home:

  • For you: The disciples who went for the colt found things just as Jesus said they would be. Ask Jesus if he has any directions for you today. Follow his instructions, and see what happens.
  • For your 6: Ask Jesus to give your 6 small miracles to show the trustworthiness of his words. Pray that these small miracles would lead them deeper into faith.
  • For our church: Pray that God would enlarge our ability to worship. Ask him to give us the exuberance and lack of self-consciousness that these crowds of pilgrims had.