Summary: Palm Sunday - a meticiously organised operation.Why? The key lies in the ownership of the donkey

WSMM West Walton 24-03-2012

This morning’s Gospel reading describes Jesus’ Triumphal entry into Jerusalem - which marked the beginning of one of the most momentous weeks in Antiquity – in AD 29.

And we remember this as Holy Week in the Church’s Calender

But first let me set the background to story of Palm Sunday:

Jesus decided to go into Jerusalem, even though it was a dangerous place for him.

In one of the other synoptic gospels - Saint Matthew wrote that Jesus came to Jerusalem to fulfil Zechariah’s prophecy

That prophecy had been written about four centuries earlier and basically stated that one day the true King would come, not on a magnificent war stallion, but on a young donkey.

Zechariah wrote this:

9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

It was recognised as a Messianic prophecy.

Now Jesus had to keep his plan secret from the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Because if they had realised what Jesus had planned – and being well versed in Scripture - they would have stopped him.

Why – because they saw Jesus- as a false prophet

And so would do anything to stop his legitimising his claim to be the Messiah by fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy.

So Jesus had to blind-side them.

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry didn’t simply HAPPEN.

I think it was well planned.


Well the evidence could have come straight out of a Sherlock Holmes novel.

It all hinges on a small detail.

Let me read to you again Lk 19 29-35

29 When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying,

30 ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here.

31 If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” just say this, “The Lord needs it.”’

32 So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them.

33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’

34 They said, ‘The Lord needs it.’

35 Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.

Did you notice that the donkey had owners (plural).

The donkey had more than one owner

That meant the owners had to be poor.

And given that they were poor, the donkey would have had to be a sizeable investment for each owner.

So have you ever wondered WHY the owners would have parted with the donkey to complete strangers - the disciples.

The evidence that the disciples were strangers to the donkey’s owners – is simply this.

Jesus would have told them to pick the donkey up from “Joseph the carpenter” or “Ben the blacksmith” if the disciples had known the owners. No need for the elaborate ruse.

No, it seems to me that the most likely explanation Jesus telling the disciples to say ““The Lord needs it!” has to be that it was a pre-arranged codeword.

A further clue that this was a prearranged code is that when they tell the owners this – there is no great discussion

You would have expected at least “Well who is this Lord wanting our donkey!”

Story: For example, can you imagine if David Baddley (or Peter Gagen WSMM) was driving his Rolls Royce in the village and two complete strangers came up to him and asked for the car saying “The Lord needs it!”.

Can you imagine his reply?

As that great detective Sherlock Holmes is reputed to have said,

"eliminate the obvious and whatever remains, however improbable, must be the answer."

(The Supreme Court and Constitutional Theory by Ronald Kahn. 1994.)

If my hypothesis is right, then Jesus must have put a lot of meticulous planning into this event.

And so Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem wasn’t something that happened by chance.

Jesus wasn’t swept into Jerusalem by the euphoria of the crowds at Pentecost.

He could easily have turned the other way and returned to Galilee

He could have waited to come into Jerusalme for a time that was a less volatile.

But he didn’t – he sought to do his Father’s will.

And so, if I am correct it show me two things

1. Jesus was challenging the folk religion of his day.

Popular religion of Jesus’ day was looking forward to a Messiah who was going to be an all conquering hero throwing the Romans out and re-establishing Jewish sovereignty.

Indeed that was probably one of the reasons that the crowds turned out

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