Jesus was making his way to Jerusalem.
He sent two disciples ahead of him into a local village to carry out, what appears to me as, a special errand (cf. Mark 11:2-6). I can’t help but wonder what these men were thinking when the Lord gave them these instructions, because not a single Gospel account ever mentions him riding any animal from one place to another—except here.
But on this occasion, he gave this somewhat unusual command to go into a village, get a colt which had never been ridden before, and then bring it to him. He even told the disciples exactly what to say in the event they were questioned about taking the beast. Matthew’s account actually mentions the colt as well as a jenny. The presence of the mother would calm and steady the colt for the trip back to Jesus (Matthew 21:2).
Was this situation prearranged? It certainly appears so, but in truth we can’t know for sure. The text simply does not say. Maybe. Maybe not.
What we can know is that Jesus knew what he was going to face in Jerusalem and he went anyway.
As the Lord rode into the city the people received him with joyous praise:
“And many spread their garments on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the LORD! Hosanna in the highest!’” (Mark 11:8-10).
You can’t help but be caught up in the festive atmosphere. The fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (Zechariah 9:9)! Palm branches! Garments spread out on the road! Verbal applause!
What I find fascinating about this whole episode is that the multitude welcomed Jesus into the city and cried, in essence, “Hail him! Hail him!”—but scarcely a week later the very same fickle crowd would shout, “Nail him! Nail him!”
And he knew what would happen, and he went anyway.
He knew what was about to transpire (cf. Matthew 20:18). He rode into the royal city of Jerusalem—not as a conqueror on a stallion, but as humble servant on a lowly beast. He accepted the honor of the multitudes, but then days later gave his own lifeblood for their sins.
Good reader, the next time you’re tempted to not do what is right, remember this story. The next Lord’s Day when you’re reflecting over Communion, remember this critical snapshot of the Christ. He knew what he would have to face. He knew the outcome of this final trip into the city. He knew that he would suffer and be killed.
And he went anyway.