Reading the accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we can
come to a complete understanding of the events which transpired
as Jesus came near unto Jerusalem.
Arriving at the mount called Olivet (where the great even of
Christ's glorious coming is to take place that is recorded in the
14th chapter of Zechariah), which is near Bethphage and Bethany,
He sent two of His disciples to a village close by, saying to
them, "Go into the village, and immediately as you enter it you
will find an ass tied up, with a colt with her, on which no man
has ever sat; untie them and bring them to me. If any one says to
you, 'Why are you doing this?' say to them, 'The Lord has need of
them, and will send them back immediately when their work is
done.' And they will let them go with you."
An "ass" is from the horse family, often what we call a
donkey. A "colt" is a young male offspring of the horse family,
in this instant, a young male from the female donkey. The young
colt was still with its mother, hence Matthew records the ass was
"her" and she was tied up, the colt was "with her" and did not
need to be tied as the young colt would not leave its mother's
side. Such it is in nature with a mother and her young ones.
The colt was not as they say in the horse world, "broken" - no
man had ever sat upon it, yet it would have been old enough to
withstand the weight of the average size Jewish man.
Jesus would perform a small miracle here. He was going to
sit upon a young donkey that had never before had any training
with men, to carry a person with calm and quietness. It is often
missed (because only Matthew records it) by artists depicting
this scene, that there was two donkeys....the young one Jesus sat
upon, but the mother was along side her colt, in order to bring
no distress upon the colt, as would have been the case if its
mother was not there.
Now, some would argue that Jesus could have performed two
miracles, the second being "no distress" for the colt if it had
been taken away from its mother. That maybe true, but it is not a
case of what Jesus could have done, it is a case of what Jesus
CHOSE to do. He chose to show everyone His compassion for BOTH
the mother donkey and for her young offspring. He would not
divide them up and perform a special miracle of "peace" for both
of them when divided up, but would simply take both of them, keep
them together, and perform a small miracle on the colt, giving it
complete composure of mind and body, as Jesus sat upon it and as
He would make His way into the city of Jerusalem.
As a young man I worked for a while breaking and training
horses. Young colts or fillies (female offspring) of horses that
are used for saddle riding (horse trails etc), will grow up
around humans, and will of course have no fear of them, and if
handled with kindness become like dogs in nature towards humans.
But yet the day comes when they have to be "broken" to the saddle
and for humans to ride. Now, in my experience, such friendly
colts and fillies, hardly ever "bucked" or went wild (as did
horses we were breaking that had never been around humans before
- they would be scared crazy and often buck like the bulls you
see being ridden in the Rodeo). They just most often stood there
and acted plain "dumb" - not knowing of course what to do, where
to go, and not knowing how to react to commands you gave it,
either by the voice or by the heels of your boots or by any tug
on the bit. Naturally, all this stuff that the human was now
doing was very new. They were not frightened of the human but
just did not know what this human now wanted it to do.
So to help train the young colt or filly, we would have its
mother right alongside, and it would follow her just fine. After
a while the colt or filly would get to know what "stop" or "go"
(with a little heel kick) meant, and its training would progress
from there. It would take some time before its training would be
finished and complete, so to make a good saddle horse for any
person to ride on trail rides, by itself or with other horses
other than next to its mother.
Jesus, chose to keep the colt with its mother, but performed
a miracle of sorts by having the colt know exactly what was
expected of it. I'm sure many people knew the situation of the
mother and her colt (that no man had ever sat on the colt) and
knew Jesus was doing something with both of them (especially the
colt) that was quite different than the normal expectation of an
untrained young donkey.
Sure enough when the two disciples got to where the cold and
its mother were and started to untie the mother, some people
seeing what they were doing and knowing they were not the owners
of the animals, asked them why they were taking them. They
responded with the words Jesus had told them to say, and the
people said no more and let them go away with the two donkeys.
Those persons concerned by what they saw the two disciples doing
must have known who the "Lord" was, when told that "The Lord has
need of them." Jesus was indeed "Lord" to many by this time.
Jesus coming into Jerusalem on a colt was to fulfil the
prophecy in the Old Testament prophets of Isaiah 62: 11 and
Zechariah 9: 9. The Gospel of Luke quotes it this way: "Fear not,
daughter of Zion; behold thy king is coming, sitting upon an
The disciples did not understand all this at first, but
later, after Jesus had been glorified, then they remembered what
had been written and why Jesus had sat upon a colt to enter
There was by this time a massive crowd of people gathered
around Jesus, behind Him, and in front of Him. More and more were
hearing that Jesus was making His way to Jerusalem, and so were
gathering along the roadway. Many threw their coats on the
roadway to make the footing softer for the colt. Many took leafy
branches which they had cut from the fields and trees and placed
them on the road that the colt, with Jesus on its back, was
All the people were worked up into great excitement. This
was the day most of them had been waiting for, surely Jesus was
about to deliver them from the yoke of the Roman government. This
is what most of them were thinking and quite sure in their
hearts that it would be so - Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah,
God's chosen one, God's promised one, the mighty MIRACLE worker,
the one who could raise people from the dead, would now lead them
to victory over their enemies, and bring in the glorious
Kingdom, where the Jewish people, and all the tribes of Israel,
would be the MASTERS of the world. Many had gathered because they
had heard about the mighty miracle Jesus had done in raising
Lazarus from the dead.
The people were so sure that Jesus was about to lead them to
victory over their enemies they all began to shout with uplifted
voices, "HOSANNA! HOSANNA! Blessed be HE who comes in the name of
the LORD! Blessed be the KINGDOM of our father David that is
coming. HOSANNA to the Highest!"
The Hebrew word "Hosanna" when broken down into its meaning
is very revealing, and gives the true understanding of what the
people were shouting loud and long. "Hosan" means "save, help"
and "na" means "please." The people were crying out, "PLEASE SAVE
AND HELP US!"
Putting it in our English words, the multitude was saying,
"He who is coming in the name of the Lord, Please help and SAVE
us. Please save us from the Romans, deliver us, set up the
Kingdom of David. Save us in the presence, in the sight of (the
Greek "en" translated "in" can mean "before, in presence, in
sight") the Highest.
The people wanted, now expected, that Jesus would save and
deliver them from the Roman yoke, and set up the glorious Kingdom
of God, a kingdom they thought would be like that kingdom in the
days of their ancient great king David.
How they wanted to be delivered, set free from under the
heavy yoke of what they considered a great evil. They could
understand, they could see what the prophets had written, that
the Messiah would come and deliver Israel from the yoke of its
enemies, when the Messiah would come with the power of the Most
High, to rule the world, and make Israel a prosperous and
fruitful nation, that all other nations would look up to, and
want to be like. But they were reading the Old Testament with one
eye shut. They could not see that first of all the Messiah would
come to save people, and that included people from within Israel,
from their sins, from Satan, from themselves, and give salvation
to the world.
They were going to be soon very disappointed with Jesus, and
deflated in their expectations of what He was going to do for
them. So disappointed they would be, that few would have ever
expected at that time, that the coming events would have them
turn their back on Jesus in a most drastic way...the most drastic
way possible to turn your back on someone you once praised and
Then among all this praise for Jesus there were the ever
present Pharisees, who once more wanted to throw buckets of water
on the excited fire of enthusiasm being shown to this man riding
on the back of a humble colt.
"Teacher, rebuke your disciples for making all this fuss
over you," shouted some Pharisees.
"I tell you," replied Jesus, "if these were silent, the very
stones would cry out."
He drew near unto the city of Jerusalem, and when it all
came into His view, Luke in his Gospel account records that "He
wept over it." Once more we see the down to earth emotional side
of Jesus. He knew what trouble and pain and devastation the
people of that city were in for, if they did not all fully
repent, and turn to their God in humble service. Jesus said, "I
would that you knew what were the things that would make for
peace in your lives! But, they are hid from your eyes, you refuse
to see. The days shall come upon you when your enemies will cast
a wall of armies around you, and hem you in on all sides. Then
they shall dash you to the ground, you and your children within
you. They shall not leave one stone upon another, utter
destruction shall come upon you; because you did not know nor
want to understand your time of visitation and punishment"
(Mat.21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19: 29-44; John 12: 12-19,
Jesus knew the vast majority in that city of Jerusalem would
never come to true repentance. Though many in the days ahead
would come to accept Him as Savior, acknowledge their sins, and
find the true way to salvation (all of that after His
resurrection and ascension back to heaven, as we shall see in the
book of Acts), for the most part the majority of people and
religious leaders would reject Jesus, and would not abandon their
false ways of living, and their wrong thoughts towards the Roman
powers. Hence in 70 A.D. the city of Jerusalem would be brought
to the ground by the Roman armies, and its inhabitants (including
children) stain by the sword.
Jesus foreknew this would all happen, and so with deep
emotion, He cried tears of sorrow, as the city of Jerusalem came
into His view. He knew He must die there, but He also knew the
punishment to come upon that city, because its people would not
turn from their sins, and look to seek the way of peace for
themselves individually, as well as for their city as a whole.
UNFRUITFUL FIG TREE IS CURSED, AND DIES
On the following day, returning from Bethany, where Jesus
and the twelve had spent the night, they were coming back to
Jerusalem again, and Jesus was hungry. He saw a fig tree by the
wayside in the distance, and walking up to it He discovered it
had only leaves on its branches and no figs. "May no fruit ever
come from you again," Jesus said to the tree. And the disciples
heard what He said.
The next morning as they passed along the same way, they saw
the fig tree was all withered away right down to its very roots.
And Peter remembered, said to Jesus, "Master, look! The fig tree
which you cursed has withered away."
"Have faith in God," Jesus answered, and went on to say,
"Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up
and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but
believes that what he has said will come to pass, it will indeed
be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in
prayer, believing that you will receive it, and you will. And
when you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against
any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven, may forgive
you your trespass" (Mark 11: 12-14, 20-25).
We need to understand that Jesus did not go around cursing
this or that thing at random, or just to over use, or abuse, the
power that He had. He did not take the mighty power from the Holy
Spirit given Him, and use it like a play toy. He did not go about
cursing things just for the fun of it.
A fig tree is one of the fruits trees that is very different
from most fruit trees. The actual fruit, the fig, comes on the
branches BEFORE the leaves come. So, when seeing a fig tree from
a distance, and noting it has leaves on its branches, you would
automatically gather it also had fruit on its branches. This is
what Jesus expected when He finally got up close to the tree, but
as we have seen, there was no fruit, or figs, on the tree at all.
It was really a useless, unproductive, fruit tree that was not
doing what it was designed to do. It was taking up space and
nourishment from the soil, and giving nothing back, certainly not
giving back what it should have been giving back.
We must take this as a lesson to learn from. God does not
want people, all of which have some gifts, talents, and
abilities, to just take up space so to speak, drink in and use up
what they can from society and from others, and never give back
to others, something that can enrich and help others in some
manner. Everyone has something they can contribute to someone
else, be it but a smile, a word of encouragement, some form
of a helping hand (i.e. opening the door for someone who has
their hands full of parcels, or helping an old lady cross a busy
street), giving of your time, energy, talents, to a charitable
If we do not produce something that gives back to others,
then we are fit for nothing, fit only to lose everything. And
that is exactly what will happen to us, if we do not repent of
living a useless, none productive, none giving life.....we shall
be rooted up, plucked up by the roots, we shall wither away and
simply be no more. God cannot use in His family someone who is
none productive for what they were created to be and to do in
service for humanity. A Christian's life, the life of a child of
God the Father, is to produce and serve, to give back to others,
what God has given to you, and God does give something to every
person so each can give something back to society and to
This is also a lesson in "faith." Again, we do not, and
Jesus did not, go about demonstrating "faith" just for the sake
of demonstrating faith, and casting this or that mountain or hill
into the sea. But under the correct situation, where faith is
needed, for a good and correct purpose (and it was a good purpose
that this fig tree should be withered up, for it was taking up
good space and soil, for no good purpose, the soil could
be used to plant a productive tree), then having "faith" you
could do miracles, and things that most would never expect could
be done. Many a person down through history have performed things
(or had things done for them) that most would have thought was
quite impossible. They had faith in God that what they wanted and
needed (asking according to His will, not asking amiss, James 4:
3; with 1 John 3:22) for that situation, would be granted them.
And with faith, mountains could be removed into the sea, if that
was what was needed to be done for that particular circumstance.
Jesus also took the opportunity while speaking about
"prayer" to remind them that an attitude of being able to forgive
others, was a basic fundamental attribute of being a child of
God, for only by being able to forgive others, would we have our
sins forgiven by our heavenly Father.
JESUS CLEANSES THE TEMPLE ONCE MORE
The ways of sin and unrighteousness had crept back into the
practices within the Temple walls. Jesus had in the past thrown
out the greedy, unscrupulous, merchants who sold things to the
people who came to sacrifice in the temple. They had robbed the
people, taken advantage of them, sold in such a way that was only
to make as much profit as possible for themselves. Once more such
merchant robbers were back in the Temple, doing their selling to
the people as before. How soon the heart of man can forget
the correcting of the Lord, and return to its former evil habits.
Jesus entered the Temple in Jerusalem, and saw again that
the merchants had reverted back to their old sinful ways and
practices. Once more with righteous indignation He overturned the
tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold
pigeons and cried out, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be
called a house of prayer'; but you make it a den of robbers."
Jesus would not allow anyone to carry on their selling,
bringing in and taking out their merchandise through the Temple.
The sellers by now knew the mighty power He possed, and they
were not about to test Him with it. All stood in fearful awe of
The blind and the lame came to Him in the Temple, and He
healed them as before. Children were even crying out with loud
voices, "Hosanna, please save us, Son of David." And when the
scribes and the chief priests heard what the children were
saying, they said to Jesus with jealousy and frustration, "Do you
not hear what these are saying." They wanted Jesus to tell them
to stop, but Jesus looked at them and said, "Yes, I hear what
they are saying. Have you never read where it is written, 'Out of
the mouth of babes and sucklings you have brought perfect
And they could say nothing or do nothing to Him in response.
They feared Him, not only because of His great power in
performing miracles and healings, but also because the multitudes
of people were astonished at His teaching, hanging on every word
He spoke, and were at this point fully behind and backing Him up
all the way.
Leaving them, Jesus went out of the Temple and the city of
Jerusalem, and went again to Bethany and lodged there for a short
while (Mat.21: 12-17; Mark 11: 15-19; Luke 19: 45-48).
CHIEF PRIESTS QUESTION JESUS' AUTHORITY
It was not long before Jesus was back in the Temple
preaching and teaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God.
The religious leaders of the people were by now getting as
uptight and as jumpy as a cat on a hot tin roof. The chief
priests, and the scribes, with the elders (a good portion of the
Jewish Sanhedrin, or court of religious matters) of the people,
came to Jesus and demanded to know, "By what authority are you
doing these things, or who gave you the authority to do them?"
Jesus answered them with a question, "I also will ask you a
question; and if you will tell me the answer, then I will tell
you by what authority I do these things. My question is this:
'The baptism of John, where did it come from? Was it from the
authority of heaven or from the authority of men?' "
Now those leaders were in quite the pickle as we say. They
quickly reasoned among themselves that if they said John's
authority came from heaven, then Jesus would ask them why they
did not believe him. But if they said John's authority came from
men, they knew the crowds of people would be against them, and
might even do physical violence to them, for they knew the people
held John as a prophet from God. So with a sheepish voice they
answered Jesus, "Well.....we really do not know where John's
authority came from."
Jesus stared at them, paused for a moment....then with half
a smile on His face, said to them, "Well......neither will I tell
you by what authority I do these things" (Mat.21: 23-27; Mark 11:
27-33; Luke 20: 1-8).
Those leaders of the people had been caught in their own
trap. They went away seething with anger inside, and determined
even the more to destroy this man called Jesus.
Written December 2002