(This is an excerpt from a recent sermon covering Mark 11:1-12:12, you can click here to find the audio)
In the early 90s, there was a skit on SNL called Coffee Talk with Linda Richman. She talked coffee, NY, daughters, dogs, you know, no big whoop… just coffee talk. Mike Meyers played Linda Richman.
Every so often Linda would get a little verklempt… Talk amongst yourselves… here, I’ll give you a topic… Rhode Island is neither a road, nor an island… discuss… The New Deal was neither new, nor was it a deal… discuss…
Linda Richman could have fun with the bold heading in my Bible for this particular chapter.
The Triumphal Entry was neither triumphal, nor an entry… discuss…
Check out Mark 11:1-11 (Link to BibleGateway)
The royal procession is recorded in all four gospels. It’s important to notice that Jesus staged this event. He didn’t lay the branches or the clothing in the roads, but he sent his disciples ahead to prepare his ride. Sometimes, it seemed as though Scriptural fulfillment just happened to Jesus. (i.e. his birth) Other times, he was very intentional in ministry. In this case, he was making a very thinly veiled statement of his identity that perfectly fulfilled Scripture.
He started from the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. The prophets had foretold that this mountain was the place the Messiah, the king of the earth, would set his feet before conquering. But this is no victorious ride… at least, not from any earthly vantage point. There is a particular rabbinical teaching that if the LORD found his people to be faithful, even for a day, that the Messiah would arrive on a white horse to reign. If not, he would arrive humbly, on a donkey. The people had need of redemption, need of forgiveness. Only the colt would do!
The colt, also, was significant for the Jews. The prophet Zechariah (9:9) had said, behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Colts were primarily used for transportation, so Jesus essentially sent his friends to borrow a guy’s ride. But he gave them a solid explanation if anyone started asking questions… Where ya going with that? Uh… the Lord needs it. We’ll… uh… bring it back when we’re done. Oh! Ok. Very well. Even if Jesus assured them it would be all right, they had to feel suspicious…
The disciples laid their cloaks – more literally their clothes – on the colt while the crowd laid their clothing and branches on the road. This was a sign of political alignment. (2Kings 9) They were placing their trust in this KING. They were crying out from Psalm 118, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
In consecutive stories now, Jesus is referred to as the son of David. Bartimaeus, if you remember, cried, Son of David, have mercy on me! Ten centuries earlier, God had made an eternal covenant with David unto a kingdom (2Samuel 7) that would span eternity. Israel was waiting – begging – for the realization of this kingdom. To call Jesus the Son of David is to recognize him as the king. The awaited Messiah.
Now the people cry Hosanna! which simply means, save us!
Side note: So often, in an effort to emphasize the contrast of responses among the people, and to attempt to highlight the fickle human heart, folks link this particular crowd to the crowd crying for the crucifixion of Jesus on Friday morning. I do not believe these are the same people. We’ll see by the end of our chapter today which group would insist upon his death. I don’t see them as the bloodthirsty mob of Friday morning. This crowd, much like the disciples, would fail to stand up for Jesus, but I believe we should stop there when the Scriptures are silent.
This royal procession gathered outside the gates and led him to the city. His humble arrival spoke a loud message – Jesus was laying claim to the throne of David.
He entered Jerusalem. Jesus had been here before, but in Mark’s gospel this is the first recorded visit. Mark has been funneling his gospel to this point. It’s as if he avoided talking about Jerusalem earlier in the life of Christ so as to turn this week into a bold-faced highlight. This is the week, the visit to the city and the temple, that we’ve been sprinting towards.
Christ entered the temple.
This is no small moment. God with us ascended the temple mount. The radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature set foot again on the hallowed ground. He looked around. He left for the night. His pattern for the week would be to spend days in the temple, and nights in Bethany.
I have to wonder if he considered at that point what would happen in the morning.
For now, the people cried for their God and King to save them.
There are some GREAT commentaries on Mark. A few favorites:
The Gospel of Mark (NIGTC) by R.T. France
The Gospel According to Mark (Pillar) by James R. Edwards
Mark (NIV Application) by David E. Garland
Jesus the King by Tim Keller
Mark: St. Andrews Expository by R.C. Sproul