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Summary: Jesus rides into the city on the donkey.

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“President Nixon once told about talking to Winston Churchill’s son; he told him how much he admired the prime minister’s great ability at giving “extemporaneous” speeches. Churchill’s son replied, “Oh, yes. I’ve watched my father work for hours preparing those extemporaneous speeches.” (How To Talk So People Will Listen, Steve Brown, Baker, 1993, p. 124)

We have come to the last stage of the journey. There had been the time of withdrawal around Caesarea Philippi in the far north. There had been the time in Galilee. There had been the stay in the hill-country of Judea and in the regions beyond Jordan. There had been the road through Jericho. Now comes Jerusalem. The long journey from Galilee had ended on what we now call Palm Sunday, as Jesus and His disciples reached Bethany, approximately two miles east of Jerusalem. This was the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus and a place to which Jesus often retreated to.

As they approached the city, Jesus sent two of His disciples to the village nearby (v. 2) to get a colt that had never been ridden and bring it to Him. He knew right where the animal could be found and the purpose of securing it was that Jesus’ entry into the city might be a precise fulfillment of prophecy (Zech. 9:9). The prophets of Israel had always had a very distinctive method of getting their message across. When words failed to move people they did something dramatic, as if to say, “If you will not hear, you must be compelled to see.” (cp. specially 1 Kings 11:30–32.)

In Palestine when a king went to war he rode on a horse and when he came in peace he rode on an ass. As our Lord rode westward over the Mount of Olives and down the slope towards Jerusalem some zealous followers spread their garments and branches on the path for Him to ride over. This milling crowd acknowledged that it believed its Messiah had appeared. They thought He had come to overthrow the Roman government and establish His Kingdom on earth. Jesus was indeed the Hebrew Messiah but His mission was not political or primarily external but spiritual and internal.

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