The Triumphal Entry: A Living Parable
Why did Jesus enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey on Palm Sunday? (Updated on 3/28/2021)
Note: You can view the text of all scripture passages used in this article by hovering over the verse with your mouse. For more info about this feature, see the article, "How To Discover the Power in the Parable".
On April 6, AD 32, Jesus, with much fanfare, rode into Jerusalem on a young donkey. This is the only time in the gospels that Jesus does not travel (on land) by foot. Why? What is happening here? What does it mean? This is a living parable. Instead of telling a story, Jesus delivers a message "live" and in living color.
The Triumphal Entry - Fulfilling All Righteousness
Hidden in this humble donkey ride into Jerusalem are truths about who Jesus is, His purpose and the fulfillment of numerous prophecies, including staggering 500 year old predictions of when Israel's Messiah (Christ) would present Himself as King and how this would happen!
There are blessings waiting for us as we discover the hidden predictions and purpose of this event. These blessings are what I refer to as "The Power in the Parable"! Let's go.
The Triumphal Entry is reenacted in this video. Watch the video to get a sense of what this event was like. (This video is also listed in the MORE LINKS sectin below)
Highlights Of The Triumphal Entry
Listed below are highlights of the Triumphal Entry taken primarily from Luke 19:26-44 and Mark 11:1-11.
- Jesus sends His disciples to find a donkey and her colt
- The disciples find the animals (tied to a vine) and bring them to Jesus
- Jesus begins His journey from Bethphage to Jerusalem riding the colt
- People join the processional, praising Jesus and tossing garments and branches in the pathway
- The Pharisees tell Jesus to stop the shouts and praise of the crowd
- Jesus responds by saying that if they stop, "...the rocks will cry out"
- As Jesus nears Jerusalem, He weeps over the city
- Jesus speaks of Israel's blindness and declares Jerusalem's coming destruction
- The procession enters Jerusalem to the chagrin of the Jewish leaders
- Jesus enters the temple, observes what is going on there and returns to Bethany (Mark 11:11)
Key Study Principle (Read); 2 Peter 1:19-23
The things Jesus did fulfill Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah. We have to find and study those passages to better understand His ministry.
Searching For Donkeys
How do we interpret this 'Living Parable'? What does it all mean? Well, we will begin this treasure hunt by searching the scriptures for references about a donkey and her young colt (or fold). Two passages stand out, Genesis 49:8-12 and Zechariah 9:9.
In the Genesis passage, the Jewish patriarch Jacob (Israel), who is near death, prophesies about the future of his sons. When he speaks of Judah in Genesis 49:8-12, we discover some amazing predictions which are summarized below:
- Israel's Messiah will come from the tribe of Judah
- The last king of Israel will be the Messiah ("Shiloh")
- This King will be praised by His brothers
- Many people will obey this King
- This King HAS a donkey and a colt bound (or tied) to a vine!
- The King's clothes shall be washed in wine
Shiloh, The Coming Prince Of Peace
Jacob's prophecy is rich with Messianic symbolism (see the excellent video under 'More Links' below, entitled "The Blessing Upon Judah", for additional insight into the prophecy). The term "Shiloh", in verse 8, is a combination of words and possibly a pun. One part of the word means "peace" and the other part signifies "right" or "ownership". Jacob is describing the true or rightful prince who will bring peace.. Shiloh, in this passage, is a coming King who will be known throughout the ages as "The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus plainly told His followers that He was the one in whom they could find peace and rest:
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
The Vine, The Wine and The Clothes Washed In Blood
The events following the Triumphal Entry help us to identify the 'vine' and 'wine' in Jacob's prophecy. Jesus refers to Himself as the vine in John 15:1. Jesus said that the wine used during the Last Supper (Luke 22:20), was "My blood". Clean or white clothes are used in the Bible symbolically to represent God's salvation and righteousness (Isaiah 61:10 and Rev.. 19:8 ). Jesus chose to clothe himself with a sinless life. He was committed to doing His Father's will. In order to complete His mission, His "garment" had to be stained with blood (Rev. 1:5)! When Jesus returns as the "Lion of Judah" we see that His garments are drenched in blood (Rev. 19:13).
Jacob's prophecy paints a picture of a coming righteous King who has a donkey and a colt bound to Him. This King will reign forever and bring peace and salvation to the nations by washing His clothes in blood.
The Promise Is To You, Your Children And To Them Far Off
The Hebrew term for donkey in this passage is the same one used in Zechariah 9:9. The donkey is considered an unclean animal and is a type of the Gentile (non-Jewish) nations. Although Israel was chosen to be the carrier of God's Law and the nation through which the Saviour would come, He has always intended to pour out His blessings on all nations! Consider His promise to Israel in Genesis. 26:3-4,
"...and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed".
The King in Jacob's prophecy has a donkey and a colt bound to Him (the Vine). In the Triumphal Entry, these animals will be included. Special effort is made (Matt. 2:12) to ensure that they are part of the processional. Why? Jesus was presenting Himself to Israel as their Messiah, but He came to die for all men (2 Cor. 5:15) and to break down the wall between us (Ephesians 2:14-19). The Gentiles have been grafted into the tree that represents the nation of Israel (Romans 11:13-19). God created all nations and the fact that the Gentiles would recognize, come and worship Him, is predicted throughout scripture (e.g. Psalms 68:8-10)., Jesus riding on a donkey was a powerful living parable carrying a message for the ages (Acts 2:38-40).
These donkeys were a sign that the Gentile nations would now serve the Jewish Messiah, who through His death would bring them out of darkness and bind them to the Vine! Just as a young donkey carried Jesus as He presented Himself to Israel, a Gentile, Simon of Cyrene, helped Jesus with the burden of carrying His cross to Calvary (Matthew 27:32). We dig deeper into this subject in the article entitled, "The Mysteries of Palm Sunday: The Mystery of the Donkeys".
A More Sure Word Of Prophecy (2 Pet 1:19-21)
Prophecy is God's way of letting us know that He alone is the author of the scriptures. Long before the Triumphal Entry, God inspired His prophets to give us a "parable" that could be deciphered by the diligent. He declares the end from the beginning (read Isaiah 46:9-10). The more that we contemplate these "parables" in the light of related Bible passages, the clearer they will become.
Zechariah Predicts The Triumphal Entry
Zechariah 9:9 is another amazing prophecy of the Triumphal Entry. This passage was written over 500 years before Jesus' ride into Jerusalem. Here we see a call for the people to rejoice and shout triumphantly. Why? The Messiah is presenting himself openly as Israel's King.
It is important to note that He is NOT coming as a warrior, but humbly on a colt, bringing salvation to his people. Jesus literally fulfills Zechariah's prophecy to the letter.
Again, we see God's fingerprint on the scriptures. Jesus did not ride the donkey because the journey was long or because He was tired. Every Old Testament prophecy concerning Him had to be fulfilled precisely. Matthew confirms Jesus' intent in Matthew 21:3-5. The Triumphal Entry was a signal to those who treasured God's word that their Messiah and King had arrived!
There is much more to learn about The Triumphal Entry
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Be sure to check out our updated articles entitled, "The Palm Sumday Mysteries". These articles will be published with quizes during Passion Week 2021.
The Mystery of the Donkeys (Sat. 4/4/2021)
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Larry Shepard committed his life to Jesus Christ over 40 years ago. During those years, he worked in evangelistic radio and publishing ministries. He has served as an Education Director, Special Ministries Director, Associate Pastor and as a Senior Pastor. Larry has studied and taught at Cornerstone Theological Seminary. He also developed and taught classes at The Texas Institute of Biblical Studies. Larry worked in Corporate America as an IT professional and developed software for numerous small businesses. He lives in Houston, Texas, and is married and has two children and two grandchildren.
Other posts by Larry Shepard
Larry is the founder and visionary of the Parable Power Network. His mission is to ignite a passion for God's word and to see the Power in the Parable elevate people to exemplary living.. Larry has served in various Christian ministries for over 40 years; including teaching in Bible Schools and as a Senior Pastor.