What does it mean, Jesus walked ahead of His disciples?
It is not likely He left the group of disciples behind and walked on His own. That is not likely to happen. Rather, it is likely that Jesus is walking out in front of the pack. I will leave you to ponder on the reasons why he strode out in front.
Which two disciples were sent ahead to find the donkey? Do we know? The simple answer is we are not able to determine which two disciples were involved.
Why does it have to be an as-yet-unridden donkey?
Because the Zechariah 9:9 prophecy makes it clear that it should be a donkey's colt. Now that brings up an interesting question. Did this happen because Jesus made it happen? Was Jesus making sure the prophecy was followed? In other words, did Jesus orchestrate all of this? Is that what is going on here? A strong NO. Jesus is not conscious of fulfilling prophecy in the sense that he is making it work out. It is unquestionable that Jesus knows about the prophecy in Zechariah; that is a given. He knows the Scripture, because He is a Jewish boy and has memorized it, but also He is the author and inspirer of it. It is likely Jesus tells the two disciples to look for a young colt that has not been ridden so that a colt is chosen. The other question that remans is: Did Jesus know exactly where that colt was so the disciples would find it? Remember from yesterday, there are many who feel the donkey was found in Bethphage. Amazing, Jesus knows exactly where it is. Did He direct the disciples to it?
Why a donkey? Why didn't the Messiah enter Jerusalem on the back on a white Roman cavalry horse?
Now that would have been impressive. The Jews were looking for the entry of their King. They didn’t expect Him to appear on a donkey. Donkeys were work animals, animals of burden. I am sure you all know the donkey is not a great animal for riding. Cast your mind back to Balaam riding his donkey (Numbers 22). The story is a classic one of a donkey that is hard to control, but in Balaam's case, for a different reason. That is the typical expectation of riding a donkey. That is what you get. But Jesus makes His entrance on a donkey's colt. Firstly, the donkey is a lowly, humble animal. So riding in on a donkey would add the humility factor for this King. Note that the Zechariah prophecy includes the word "lowly". The prophecy spells out for us the focus of the entry into Jerusalem. Added to that, is the fact that this colt is one that has never been ridden. But how did they know? Any colt that was still with its mother inferred that it was as yet unridden. It was still young and unbroken. This made the riding of it even harder. But that is not what is in focus here. It is the fact that this is donkey was as yet unridden – therefore no human being has ridden it before. It has been set aside for the Master's use.
Who owns the donkey?
The word for owner is plural. This donkey has numerous owners. That is interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, that the colt of such a lowly animal as yet not broken-in would be partly owned by a number of people. This indicates poverty. The people who had part shares in this colt didn’t have enough money to buy the little animal outright. This colt was owned by a conglomerate of poor people, so they all had shares in this little donkey colt. Also, it's interesting from the point of view that despite it being owned by many different people, they can still recognize that Jesus' two disciples are not part of that conglomerate of owners. The question that was asked of them, "Why are you untying the colt?" is querying their right to do so. You wouldn’t normally untie an animal you found tied up, because you know that it has been tied by its owners and you have no right to untie it. Yet, the disciples see it and start untying it without permission it seems. It appears Jesus words to look out for a donkey colt over-rode the appropriate cultural response to ask its owner if you might borrow it or buy it. The ones who asked the question are indeed some or all of the owners. They have every right to be annoyed with the two disciples who were just going to take it .
Given this background, how was it that the disciples' answer was sufficient to secure its release? "The Lord needs it". The disciples are merely saying what Jesus told them to say. Without hesitation or debate, it seems they may take the colt. So what made it all right? Is it that the name "Lord" triggered the response? That's hard to tell because it is unlikely that the owners would automatically think that it referred to YHWH. Besides, who are these disciples anyway, in the eyes of the owners or the townsfolk? If the action were happening in Bethany, it is more likely it would trigger a positive response because Jesus and His team have stayed there a number of times. But if they are in Bethphage as we suspect, then it is less likely they will get an automatic, favorable response to taking the donkey. Perhaps this band of disciples are just so well known that they are immediately granted the use of the colt if it is for Jesus. Upon getting the colt, they (the two disciples) throw their long loose outer garments on the colts back so that Jesus is protected and has a soft "saddle" to sit on. There has never been a saddle or anything like it on this colt, so they pad it up for Jesus.
Bear in mind, they are heading up to Jerusalem for Passover and the High Sabbath. This is a very significant event. It marks the official entry of Jesus, Son of David [Messiah] into Jerusalem. Matthew and John take time to emphasize the link to the Zechariah prophecy. But Luke makes no such connection. Why is that? You would think that he would pay special attention to that because his is an ordered gospel. It is a special event because it is the fulfillment of the long awaited event that has been prophesied centuries beforehand. Why then, does Luke leave it out if he is so careful in what he puts together? How can he leave out that connection? Especially so, when Luke has made the donkey and preparation for the event the focus, before the action begins.
The other gospels record for this Triumphal Entry the fact that the people spread garments and palm branches down on the road, while Luke only records the crowd laying garments. Palm branches are omitted. Now, why is that? Notice too, there is a progression between the disciples laying garments on the donkey colt and the crowd laying garments on the road. This is an extreme mark of respect. To take your robe and outer garments off and spread them in front of the donkey for it to walk over, is making a HUGE statement. Not only that, but the verb here indicates continual action. I picture it as Jesus approaches each section of the crowd, they lay their garments down and pick them up again after the donkey has trodden over them. But it could also mean that the robes laid before it, were then picked up after it passed over them and laid again further ahead. Either way, there is a continuous line of garments in front of the donkey bearing Jesus.
We will extend our look at the Triumphal Entry as we follow the procession into the city. But as we do, pay careful attention to what Luke is doing with the story.
The world is hungry for humble people with absolute confidence in God. Obedience, not ego, is the source of true confidence. Rick Warren
Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful. John Wooden
Be humble or you’ll stumble. Rick Warren
If you think being meek is weak then trying being meek for a week.