28 After Jesus said this, he went on ahead of them to Jerusalem.
29 As he came near Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead
30 with these instructions: “Go to the village there ahead of you; as you go in, you will find a colt tied up that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here.
31 If someone asks you why you are untying it, tell him that the Master needs it.”
32 They went on their way and found everything just as Jesus had told them.
33 As they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you
34 “The Master needs it,” they answered,
35 and they took the colt to Jesus. Then they threw their cloaks over the animal and helped Jesus get on.
36 As he rode on, people spread their cloaks on the road.
37 When he came near Jerusalem, at the place where the road went down the Mount of Olives, the large crowd of his disciples began to thank God and praise him in loud voices for all the great things that they had seen:
38 “God bless the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory to God!”
39 Then some of the Pharisees in the crowd spoke to Jesus. “Teacher,” they said, “command your disciples to be quiet!”
40 Jesus answered, “I tell you that if they keep quiet, the stones themselves will start shouting.”
You may also wish to read the full Gospel reading for today: Luke 22:14-23:56. Other readings: Isaiah 50:4-7; Philippians 2:6-11
We begin Holy Week with Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. What an occasion it must have been, loaded with symbolic images and meaning. Jesus’s starting point, the Mount of Olives, is significant as it is associated in Scripture with the coming of the Lord (Zechariah 14:4). Luke begins by describing the remarkable provision of a colt for Jesus to ride on. The disciples find everything “just as Jesus had told them” (verse 32).
Luke simply gives us these details without any further comment, although Matthew (21:5) interprets this as the fulfilment of Zechariah’s prophecy (Zechariah 9:9-10). Zechariah proclaims a King who comes as Saviour on a colt, not with horses and chariots. Jesus is in control and is fully aware of what his last few days on earth will bring.
People spread their cloaks on the road before Jesus, a customary greeting for a victorious king or important person (2 Kings 9:13). They hail “the king who comes in the name of the Lord” (verse 38), and echo the words of the angels at Jesus’s birth (Luke 2:13-14).
This is the last thing the Pharisees wanted to happen. They didn’t accept Jesus or his teaching and wanted to prevent others from following him. Nothing could be worse than this noisy hero’s welcome. They may also have feared the intervention of the Roman soldiers so they asked Jesus to tell the people to be quiet.
But Jesus’s reply (verse 40) indicates that the people’s praise was only right and proper. In fact, the occasion demanded it. If the people didn’t fulfil this requirement then God would cause the very stones of Jerusalem to shout out in praise.
Jesus’s dramatic entrance couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Pharisees. Jerusalem was packed with pilgrims who had come to celebrate the Passover (Luke 22:7). Matthew 21:10 tells us: “When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was thrown into uproar. ‘Who is he?’ the people asked.”
Mingle with the crowd and imagine what this occasion must have been like. Enrich your understanding by reading the accounts from the other Gospel writers in Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11 and John 12:12-19. Consider the contrast between the humble colt Jesus is riding on and the hero’s welcome. What does this tell us? Reflect on some of the miracles and “great things” Jesus had done in his ministry. To their credit the disciples followed Jesus’s instructions concerning the colt. What can we learn from this? Are you willing to obey God even when you don’t fully understand why He is asking you to do something?
Write your own psalm of thanksgiving to Jesus or simply speak out your praise to God for our wonderful Saviour. Today’s Psalms can help you get started.
Ponder in awe at Jesus’s humility revealed so eloquently in Philippians 2:6-11 and worship him proclaiming: “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Lectio divina is an ancient tradition of reading and engaging with God’s Word. These outlines for the Sunday Gospel readings are published by the Bible Society. Download at Biblesociety.org.uk/lectio. © 2008 United Bible Societies. Bible text Good News Translation, second edition © 1992 American Bible Society, New York