There was much more to do with Palm Sunday than merely Jesus’ riding into town on a donkey. He had been pursued by the religious leaders hoping that someday they could kill him. Multiple times Jesus foretold his murder. In the meantime, he sent out twelve disciples and then later he sent out seventy of his followers to witness, heal, and lead people to repentance. Leading up to his entry into Jerusalem, Jesus found refuge at his friends’ house in Bethany, just a few miles from Jerusalem. The friends were Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Throughout the last week before his crucifixion Jesus each night returned to their home for a respite. Even though the Sadducees, Pharisees, and Herodian’s were in opposition to Jesus, there were a few of the priests who accepted and followed him.
When it was time for Jesus to enter Jerusalem, he instructed two of his disciples to go into a nearby town. There he said they would find a colt that no man had ever ridden before. He told them if anyone challenged them, they should simply say, “because the Lord has need of him.” How marvelous it was that the owners unselfishly gave the animal to the work of Jesus without question. They set a tremendous example before all of us. If only we were also willing to give to Jesus whatever we owned even if it was costly.
They placed their garments on the colt and set Jesus on it. As they traveled to Jerusalem, large groups of people shouted in praise of Christ in his honor. When the Pharisees approached Jesus to challenge what his disciples were doing, he replied to them that if they did not shout, the stones would cry out in his praise. Symbolically, riding into a city was like that of a general or king who was claiming victory over the inhabitants. The entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on the colt was prophesied many years before in Zachariah 9:9.
On the way to the city Jesus stopped and wept over it because of their spiritual ignorance. He prophesied that the town would be destroyed completely. That prophecy was fulfilled thirty-five years later when the Roman general Titus in seventy A.D sieged Jerusalem. As he continued on his way, more people joined the march, so it seemed that it was. They threw either palm branches or their own coats in his path. In those days, it was like getting an autograph from a celebrity.
Immediately, Jesus went to the temple. Just like he did in the beginning of his ministry Jesus threw out the moneychangers reminding them that the temple was supposed to be a house of prayer and not a market. The moneychangers made great profit because there had to be a special temple coin used as part of worship. Therefore, the common currency had to be exchanged for the temple currency. Each day Jesus taught at the temple and in the evening returned to Bethany to rest for the nighttime in anticipation of his appearance again at the temple. During one time that he was teaching the chief priests and scribes challenged him asking what authority he had to do what he was doing. He befuddled them by asking whether the baptism of John was from heaven or of man. More challenges and questions came to Jesus, but he denounced those that came. This was a busy time for Jesus and in those few days left he taught parables and prophesied.
Keep in mind that this entire week Jesus was in control. At any time, he could have turned his back on the mission that his Father gave him. He did not want to endure what lay ahead but was committed out of love for the spiritual needs of all mankind and their eternal destiny. That includes you and me!
Jesus was invited to the house of Simon the leper who had been healed by Jesus. While there eating a woman entered with an alabaster box full of precious ointment that was so costly it equaled a year’s wages. She poured the ointment on his head. The disciples objected saying that that was a waste of valuable art that could have been sold for the poor. However, Jesus rebuked them saying that she had anointed him for his death and that wherever the gospel was preached, what she had done would been a memorial for her. This was the last straw for Judas. He went to the chief priests offering to betray Christ for thirty pieces of silver.
Thursday evening Jesus and his disciples gathered at a large room believed to be owned by Mark’s mother. Mark later wrote the Gospel bearing his name in the New Testament. Soon Jesus would be arrested and murdered!