There are four events in this chapter that call for a careful consideration:
I. The Chanting of the Throng (vv1-11)
The Setting: The Lord Jesus is moving up to Jerusalem from Jericho, through the Jordan valley, a distance of about 25 kilometers. Little is told us of the happenings on the way other than John’s reference to Mary anointing the Lord Jesus in John 12. It appears that He stayed there for a night or two. The area was known for its desolation and danger, as illustrated in the story in Luke 10 about the man who was robbed and left on the side of the road half-dead.
John 12:1 further informs us that this was the last week of the Lord’s earthly sojourn. “Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany.” Before another Sabbath’s sun had set, the Lord Jesus would be put to death.
Events of the deepest import were about to transpire. On the fifth day, prior to His death, His triumphal entry into Jerusalem took place – an event which appears to be completely unpremeditated as far as man is concerned, but we know from Psalm 118:25-26, a quotation by the throng, that it was more than a visit by the Prophet of Nazareth or the Raiser of Lazarus. It was, in fact, Israel’s rightful Monarch Who would enter the City of the Great King (Psa 48:2).
The Scene: Observe four associated issues in these verses –
The Supremacy of Christ (vv1-3)
The title used of the Lord Jesus (v3) is that of “Lord” (Greek kurios) meaning supreme authority. It suggests one who is in absolute control. Its use in this context is very meaningful. When it is used as a noun, it is variously translated in the NT as master or owner and this reminds us of the words in verse 3: “… say that the Lord has need of him.”
Is it not striking to notice that the colt did for the Lord Jesus what the privileged nation of Israel would not do? It carried Him into the city of Jerusalem, which leads us to the next incident.
The Service of the Colt (v7)
“And they brought the colt to Jesus … and He sat upon him.”
Lordship: All concerned with this incident were brought to recognition of His Lordship authority, demanding ready and unreserved obedience. Luke 19:30 adds the words, “whereon no man ever sat;” but we read of the Lord Jesus that, “He sat upon him.” The animal world was completely submissive to His Lordship authority.
Location: “The village which is over against you (just in front of you)” (Luke 19:30).”
God wants to use us just where we are. Conditions near at hand are waiting for our attention. Sunday school work can be a fertile field of service. He also wants to utilize the gift that is available in the local assembly. It may not always be necessary to seek help from other places.
Liberty: “Loose him and bring him” (Mark 11:2). Lazarus not only received life but liberty, as well: “He came forth from the grave bound both hand and foot … Jesus said unto them, ‘Loose him, and let him go’”(John 11:44). Liberty to live for God is essential. This is not license to please ourselves, but liberty to do His will. It is possible for Christians to become bound up with activities, interests, and hobbies, which can result in rendering us unavailable for the Lord’s use. How good it is to serve without distraction and divided loyalties!
Laying Claim: “The Lord has need of him” (Mark 11:3). “And He sat upon him” (v7). The nation didn’t know Him, but the colt knew its Maker and surrendered to His mastery. The Lord Jesus is laying claim of us for His personal use – exclusively for Him. Mary, the mother of the Lord, held herself completely for Him, saying, “I am the handmaiden of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word.” As well, Joseph of Arimethaea, yielded his tomb to the Lord. It was a virgin-tomb, “wherein never man before was laid.”
The Shout of the Crowd (vv8-10)
“And many spread their garments upon the way; and others cut down branches off the trees, and spread them in the way” (v8). “Then they that went before, and they that followed” (v9), refers to the multitude that accompanied the disciples, and those who followed may have come out from Jerusalem, having been drawn by the report of the miracle at Bethany. “For this cause the multitude also met Him, for that they heard that He had done this miracle (sign)” (John 12:18). Apart from the last clause of verse 10, the words are peculiar to Mark. It was directly quoted from Psalm 118:25-26, ESV. “Save us, we pray, O Lord! (Hosanna), give us success (prosperity)! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of Jehovah.” This is a reference to the coming day of Israel’s final deliverance. The One mentioned in the Psalm was in their very midst. He was the King, the heir to David’s throne, under Whom it will one day be re-established.
Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,
Great David’s greater Son!
Hail, in the time appointed,
His reign on earth begun;
He comes to break oppression,
To set the captive free;
To take away transgression,
And rule in equity.
The Shame of the City (v11)
“And He entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple; and when He had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, He went out unto Bethany with the twelve.” Nothing escapes His searching gaze. The signs of rebellion, corruption, and unbelief were evident. It was a condition which the Lord refused to sanction with His presence, and He immediately left for Bethany where there were a few believers whose love He greatly appreciated.
This action has a pointed message for believers in a local testimony. The letters to the seven churches strike home to the heart and conscience the tragic possibility of waning affection as seen in Ephesus; in Laodicea, it was a condition of insensitivity. He presents Himself as One standing at the door, seeking admission. “Behold I stand at the door and knock: if anyone hear My voice, and open the door I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Rev 3:20). The Lord Jesus makes His appeal to the individual, to rise above the conditions of Laodiceanism and to respond to His patient, persistent, and pleading call. One responsive heart can make all the difference to an assembly. He is looking for a full and unfettered place in the affections and lives of His saints.