This is a significant event because the circumstance is recorded in all four Gospel accounts. Let us look at only Matthew’s record.
“And when they drew near to Jerusalem, and came unto Bethphage, to the mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying unto them, ‘Go into the village that is just ahead of you, and straightway you shall find a donkey tied, and a colt with her: untie them, and bring them to me. And if any one says anything to you, you shall say, The Lord has need of them; and immediately he will send them.’ Now this is to happen that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying, ‘Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your King is coming to you, Meek, and riding upon a donkey, And upon a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ And the disciples went, and did just as Jesus had instructed them, and brought the donkey, and the colt, and put on them their garments; and he sat thereon. And most of the crowd spread their garments in the road; and others cut
branches from the trees, and spread them in the road. And the crowds that went before him, and that followed, cried out, saying, ‘Hosanna [save now!] to the son of David: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.’ And when
he was come into Jerusalem, the entire city was stirred, saying, ‘Who is this?’ And the crowds said, ‘This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee’” (Mt. 21:1-11; cf. Mk. 11:1-11; Lk. 19:29-44; Jn. 12:12-19).
The setting of this episode takes place on the Sunday, just prior to the
crucifixion later that week (cf. Jn. 12:1,12), as the Lord and his disciples
made their way toward Jerusalem. This day is commonly called “Palm
As they approached a village called Bethphage (“house of figs” — specific site unidentified) on the western slope of Olivet, Jesus dispatched two (un-named) disciples into the community to obtain a donkey for use in the remainder of his journey into the sacred city.
Christ informed the disciples that as they entered the village they would
find a female donkey secured by a “tie.” With her would be a colt, also
hitched. The disciples were to “unloose” and bring back both animals.
They would be questioned by the animals’ owners (Lk. 19:33) as to what
they were doing. Their response was to be, “The Lord has need of
them.” Immediately permission would be granted. This was not a pre-
arranged agreement; rather, it provides a dramatic example of the Lord’s
exercise of supernatural knowledge whenever the circumstances
demanded such (see Lk. 19:32). It is worthy of note as well that the
owners of these donkeys were obviously disciples of the Master, as
indicated by their unhesitating response to the designation “Lord.”
When the Savior’s men returned, the two animals were adorned with the
outer garments of the disciples, reflecting perhaps the fact that they did
not know which of the two beasts of burden he would choose. Jesus
selected the colt, upon whose back no man had ever sat (Mk. 11:2; Lk.
19:30). It is not without significance that the young animal made no
resistance (cf. divine sovereignty over the animal kingdom — Num.
22:28; 2 Kgs. 2:24, etc.).
As the Savior rode down the road toward the capital city, two throngs of
people converged upon him – a massive crowd coming out of the city;
another group following him (Mt. 21:9; Mk. 11:9). These were mostly
disciples who had been awed by the effect of the Lord’s miracles –
especially the recent resurrection of Lazarus (Lk. 19:37; Jn. 12:17).
Some “paved” the road with their garments; others with layers of leaves,
at least some of which were from palm trees (Jn. 12:13), hence the
expression “Palm Sunday.” Spreading garments before a dignitary was a
symbol of submission (see 2 Kgs. 9:13). Some Jewish coins from the
first century had palm leaf engravings with the accompanying inscription,
“the redemption of Zion.” Note the “palm” symbolism that is portrayed in
the book of Revelation (7:9). The Jewish disciples doubtless were
expressing the hope that Jesus would be the one to lead them to victory
over their oppressor (Rome).
the Savior’s “Triumphal Entry” into the city of Jerusalem, one week
before “Resurrection Sunday,” signaled both deliverance and doom. The
former would obtain for those who acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah
and surrendered to his will; the latter would prevail for those who
rejected him. The same (in principle) and in a final, ultimate sense,
applies today as well
The Triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem also speaks about how
humans beings can be fickle and unpredictable. That is to say that within
each one of us lies the potential to praise and celebrate someone in one
breath, while in another breath doing the exact opposite of what they
were doing before. In the case of this crowd the same voice crying “
Hosanna !, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” days later were crying “Crucify him” five days later. I heard a great preacher many
years ago sum it up this way: “Celebration without commitment
becomes Crucifixion” (Rev Dr Burchell Taylor, former pastor of Bethel
Baptist Church, Kingston, Jamaica, W.I)