Procuring A Donkey

Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately’ ” (vv. 2–3).

- Mark 11:1–6

The four evangelists—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—are all concerned with the teachings and miracles of Jesus. Yet in none of the four Gospels is the public ministry of Jesus the primary focus. Each gospel writer slows down his narration of Jesus’ life considerably once our Lord makes His final visit to Jerusalem, and each devotes an extraordinary amount of attention to the events between Palm Sunday and the resurrection of Jesus. The amount of space devoted to that time period shows that the full significance of Jesus’ life and ministry is revealed only in His passion.

Mark uses six of his sixteen chapters to tell the story of the last days of Jesus’ life. Today’s passage records the instructions Jesus gave to two of His disciples immediately before He and His followers entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The church’s traditional liturgical calendar has only seven days passing between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, but there are reasons to believe several months intervened between Jesus’ entry into the city and His resurrection. The most significant of these reasons is that John’s gospel has Jesus in Judea about four months before His crucifixion, having come up for the Feast of Dedication, which took place in the fall (John 10:22).

We read that when Jesus reached the Mount of Olives, our Lord sent two of His disciples to procure a colt for Him. The messianic significance of this should not be missed. In the first century, many rabbis thought the Mount of Olives would be the place from which the promised Messiah would finally come to Jerusalem. More importantly, the royal beast of burden for the ancient Israelite kings was the colt, that is, the donkey. They also used mules, which are the offspring of donkeys and horses. For instance, when David wanted to reveal Solomon as the next king of Israel, he had Solomon ride on his mule (1 Kings 1:28–53). Zechariah 9:9 is a prophecy that the Son of David, the Messiah, would come to Jerusalem on a “colt, the foal of a donkey.” After keeping knowledge of His messianic identity limited to only a few people for most of His ministry, Jesus was finally getting ready to reveal Himself as the Messiah to the masses.

Jesus’ instructions to the disciples who procured the donkey demonstrate His sovereignty over the coming events (Mark 11:2–6). He expected the donkey’s owners to know who He was and to grant the disciples’ request. What was about to happen was something Jesus had been preparing for His entire ministry.

Coram Deo

What happened to Jesus in Jerusalem was not some cosmic accident. Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). He, with the Father and the Spirit, planned His death and remained sovereign over every aspect of it even as others were taking His life. Because He was sovereign over His death, we know that it accomplished exactly what He intended it to accomplish—the full and final salvation of His people.

Passages for Further Study

Isaiah 46:8–10
Matthew 25:17–19
John 10:17–18
Hebrews 1:1–4

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