The Eventide of Peaceful Repose, Mark 11. 1-11

Bernard Osborne, Dinas Powys, Wales [SEE PROFILE BELOW]

Part 4 of 5 of the series Eventides in the Life of the Lord Jesus in Mark's Gospel

The Lord has come to the commence­ment of the week of His passion, and He commenced that week with the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, "the city of the great King". What a signifi­cant event it was! What great facts revealed in it! Consider that it contained the following:

1. An Indication of Poverty.

Here we see the Lord entering His city, coming in the majesty of meekness, stripped of all those things which men usually associate with royalty, and riding upon a colt. The word used for "colt" indicates a beast of burden, not one of the race of swift asses used in the East as the peculiar animals of kings. A strange King this, indeed, who has not even an ass of His own, for followers having peasants with palm branches instead of swords! Imagine the feelings of a Roman soldier stand­ing by as he watched the procession. If he had seen the Caesar's triumphal entries at Rome, how his lip would have curled in contempt at this rustic procession of a pauper Prince on an ass and a hundred or two of penniless, weaponless men. It lacked all the things usually associated with royalty and greatness. A procession of poverty, the scattering of the clothes the people wore, the broken branches of trees, the cries and shouts of a Galilean crowd, and that was it. So He rode on in the dignity of a great meekness, divested of all the things that humanity had for so long associated with king­ship, It was a pageant of poverty. Christ's one moment of royal pomp was as eloquent of all His humiliation as the long stretch of His lowly life had been. Here is One who was born in the lowliest of circumstances, Luke 2. 7, 24; who was known as the Carpenter, Mark 6. 3; who had nowhere to lay His head, Luke9.58; who had no home to go to, John 7. 53; 8. 1 ; who had no tomb of His own to be buried in, Matthew 27. 60. "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich", 2 Cor. 8. 9.

Yet side by side with the lowliness there gleams a veiled splendour. He had to borrow, but note the message He sent—"The Lord hath need of him". That spoke of an authority which had only to require in order to receive.

2.   A Manifestation of Deity.

Consider first of all how minute and exact are the instructions given to the disciples—a colt tied, an untamed colt, at a place where two ways met, the question which would be asked, the pre-knowledge of the owner's readi­ness to release it. Is there not here a prescience that is more than human? But in case we are not convinced, and the objection might be raised that it had all been arranged beforehand, consider the extended account given in Luke 19. 41 and the following verses. What of the prediction of the coming disaster to Jerusalem which is found in verses 42 to 44? Were they not accurately fulfilled in A.D. 70 when the Roman legions overran Jerusalem ? Are we not listening to the words there of One who is omniscient?

3.   A Fulfilment of Prophecy.

When Matthew writes his account of this incident he states, "All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet", Matt. 21. 4, 5. The details of His entry had been foretold centuries before in the pro­phetic Word. Consider the following:

{a) Genesis 49. 8-12. "Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine". Christ had claimed to be the true, the genuine Vine, John 15. 1, and the colt re­presented the repentant nation of Israel submitting to her Messiah.

{b) Daniel 9. 23-27. "Seventy weeks are determined" ; as the context deter­mines the idiom, seventy sevens of years are in view. Two dates are given :

(i) the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, which dates from the permission granted to Nehemiah to rebuild the wall and temple at Jerusa­lem, Neh. 2;

(ii) the cutting off of Messiah the Prince after 69 weeks. These sixty-nine weeks are subdivided: seven weeks, that is 49 years to the com­pletion of the walls of Jerusalem; sixty-two weeks from then to the cutting off of Messiah the Prince, that is 434 years. This gives a total of 483 years. It has been calculated on the basis of a Bible year of 360 days (Genesis 7.11, 24; 8. 4), that from the time of the issuing of the decree in Nehemiah's day until the Lord publicly presented Himself to Israel as King in the incident before us was exactly 483 years, and then He was "cut off".

(c) Zechariah 9. 9. This prophecy occurs in a section called "the burden of ... the Lord upon the land of Hadrach, and Damascus". If we pass on to chapter 12 we read "the burden of the word of the Lord" for Israel. Here are two messages in the ancient prophecy. The first which concerns chapters 9 to 11 deals with an anointed King rejec­ted. The second, which concerns chapters 12 to 14, speaks of a rejected King enthroned. Matthew quotes out of the former passage, and the pro­phecy was accurately fulfilled.

From the fulfilment of God's Word and God's promises in the past, we have the assurance to expect like ful­filment in the future. We have a right to expect that prophecies of the Lord's second advent will be as literally ful­filled as those of His first advent. "Maranatha". "Even so, come, Lord Jesus".

4.  An Illustration of Humanity.

The Lord's command that day con­cerned an unbroken colt. Remarkable it is that in the Old Testament the first­ling of an ass and the firstborn of man had both to be redeemed with a lamb, Exod. 13. 13. Do we not see in this untamed ass the picture of our state by nature? This was an unclean beast, Lev, 11. 26, and we needed cleansing. It was without, Mark 11.4, and so were we. It was bound and needed to be loosed, and we are now able to join in a doxology with John to "him who loveth us, and hath loosed us from our sins in his own blood", Rev. 1. 5 r.v. It was untamed, and what a picture of wild, unregenerate nature that is! It was by two ways, and did not the Lord Jesus speak of two ways, one leading to life and one to destruction ?, Matt. 7. 13, 14. But the picture does not end there. Our state by grace is also re­vealed. That colt was needed by the Lord. Consequently it was loosed by the Lord, and finally it was used by the Lord.

5.  A Revelation of Sovereignty.

The command had been, "The Lord hath need of him". It was the Lord who sent for the colt. The Sovereign's need is a sovereign reason. What He requires He has a right to take. Here is the assertion of absolute authority to which all private convenience and right of possession are to give way uncondi­tionally. Is it much He asks here? A man's cattle? That is little compared with asking for his affections, for his thoughts, for his endeavours, for the surrender of his will, for the sacrifice of his liberty, for the abandonment, if need be, of life itself. And yet nothing less was meant than this by the state­ment that a man must "hate . . . father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also", Luke 14. 26, for Christ's sake. He has a right to make these claims, not only as our Lord, but as the One who has redeemed us by His blood. Has He not a right to expect some return for those thirty-three years of humiliation and toil, and for that in­finite suffering and sorrow on the tree with which those years ended? If conscience whispers to us that He has need of something which we have not yet given Him of our substance, our time, of the work of our hands and of our brain, can we hesitate as to the answer?

But we may argue, "What use am I ? I can do nothing". Let us note how the Lord can make use of all, even of the lowest and the least. Indeed, in His condescension He makes Himself dependent on them for the fulfilment of His high purposes. This lowly ass and colt were necessary to Him, needed for a unique service which has given them for ever a place in sacred history. But He is complete in Himself, we may argue; surely He does not need an individual's poor service. Yet there the words stand, "The Lord hath need of him". The ass and colt might have been thought little of by the villagers of Bethphage, but they had a necessary part marked out for them in the passion of Christ which higher, nobler, more intellectual beings than they could not have rendered. So we find God constantly in need of poor, feeble, human instruments to give effect to His own purposes of grace and mercy. Let none say, "The Lord has no need of me".

And what if we surrender all to Him ? Note the Revised Version's rendering of verse 3: "And straightway he will send him back hither". The Lord is debtor to no man. Anything given to Him comes back again. That which we yield to Christ is increased a hundred­fold in this life. All that we have rend­ered to Him gains fragrance from His touch and comes back to us tenfold more precious since He has condes­cended to use it. He still moves among us, asking for the surrender of ourselves to Him, pledging Himself that we shall lose nothing thereby, but shall be the infinite gainers by our surrender.

At evening He came to the temple, then went out to Bethany. Who can measure the sweetness of His cup of joy, as He found repose in that lovely home? Enmity abounded without, but within there was peace. It was their glad acknowledgement of the Lordship of Christ that made that home at once so fragrant and so well-known. He was certainly their Guest, but He was their Lord as well. Let us in our several homes receive Him as our Lord and Master. Then will it be given to us also to enjoy the blessedness that His presence brings.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Bernard Osborne is retired from a career in education and is in fellowship in the assembly at Dinas Powis, Wales. He is a gifted Bible teacher and travels extensively in ministry throughout the UK and N. America.