Summary: Who Jesus is and how people responded to him
SERIES: WALKING WITH JESUS
“WHO IS THIS SERVANT?”
Today we begin to look at the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. In chronological time, we are only a few days from his crucifixion. We learn more about Jesus and how people responded to him in these events than we do anywhere else.
THE SERVANT KING
Mk. 11:1-6 – “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? tell him, 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.”
At this point, Jesus begins to change how he does things. In every other recorded instance, Jesus either walked to where he wanted go or rode in a boat to cross water. At least in one instance, he even walked on the water.
Now he gives orders to two of his disciples to retrieve the colt of a donkey on which he would ride into Jerusalem. Jesus has specific purposes in mind. First, it’s a fulfillment of prophecy. Zech. 9:9 – “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.” Mark does not mention this prophecy because he is writing to a Gentile audience with no background in Old Testament prophecies.
Second, Jesus declares himself publicly to be the Messiah. In other instances, Jesus instructs his disciples to remain quiet about who he is. He now wants it made public.
We have two excellent examples of obedience in this event. First, the two disciples do what Jesus asks them to do without question. They simply do what Jesus requests. How often do we respond to what Jesus is asking us to do in simple obedience without fuss and without complaint?
The second example of obedience is found in the owners of the colt. Their simple obedience brought glory to God. If Jesus said today, “I have need of what you have,” would you let him have it? Would you be willing to surrender it like the owners of this donkey? Would you let him take it and use it for however long he needed it or would hold onto it because you might need it?
Mk. 11:7-10 – “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!’”
It was customary for people in Israel to welcome a king by laying their outer garments on the road. It would be similar to our concept of “rolling out the red carpet.” Another custom was to wave palm branches. It was a symbol of Jewish patriotism..
The people 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!” The word Hosanna means, “Save now!” It comes from Ps. 118:25-26a – “O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.” Psalm 118 was considered a Messianic psalm – meaning it pointed to God’s Promised One.
Jesus allowed the crowd to welcome him in this way because he was affirming his kingship as the Son of David. In our day, we do not think of a donkey as the preferred transportation for royalty. But in biblical times, it was. In 1 Kings 1, David announces that Solomon has been chosen to replace him as king of Israel. David orders that Solomon be placed on a donkey to ride to his anointing as king. In biblical times, a king would ride a horse when he came as warrior. He would ride a donkey when he came as an ambassador of peace.
The people shouted, “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
Although the crowd greeted Jesus as their king, they didn’t understand his kingship. His was a spiritual kingdom, not a physical one. They expected their Messiah to rid their land of the rule of the Romans and to re-establish the glory of Israel as it was in the days of David and Solomon.