He is righteous and victorious, yet humble, riding on a donkey.

Five centuries before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Zechariah spoke of the coming Messiah, giving the Jewish people a clue so they would recognize their king. (Zechariah 9:9) This prophecy was fulfilled on the Friday before, and referenced again by events on what Christians now call Palm Sunday. Jesus rode into Jerusalem proclaiming the long awaited Kingdom. But many would not recognize their Savior. (Matthew 21:1-9, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-19)

All four Gospels record a story of an entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. But as the old song goes, one of these is not like the others. In order to see the differences between the accounts, it is important to recognize that for almost a week, Jesus was daily entering Jerusalem and teaching in the Temple until his arrest. (Luke 19:47) Knowing that Jesus was traveling back and forth between the nearby villages and Jerusalem makes it easier to see the possibility of two separate events. Many people have attempted to harmonize all four accounts, this causes unnecessary confusion and sows doubt into the minds of Believers. Examine the events carefully, compare them to each other, and the key differences will reveal themselves to you.

Of all the Gospels, Matthew was uniquely written for a Jewish audience. No other Gospel writer refers to Old Testament prophecy as much as Matthew. It is primarily in his account that you see some items that differ from the others.

Consider the following:

1. In Zechariah’s prophecy – (Zechariah 9:9) … thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. – Matthew makes it clear that the disciples retrieve two animals. Coats are placed on both animals and Jesus rides on the ass. Matthew quotes the entire prophecy so there can be no doubt that this event was its fulfillment. The other Gospel writers only mention one colt that had never been ridden. (Mark 11:2-7, Luke 19:30-35) Only John mentions the prophecy, sharing only the relevant points to his account, and the fact it was a young ass, later referred to as an ass’s colt. (John 12:14-15)

2. In Matthew’s account, Jesus’ arrival seems to be somewhat of a surprise. Observe: And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? (Matthew 21:19) Whereas in John’s account, … much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, … (John 12:12) Luke records the Pharisees attempting to silence the crowd. (Luke 19:39-40) And in John’s account, the Pharisees complained that the whole world had gone after him – wouldn’t that be wonderful if it were true. (John 12:19)

3. John, an eyewitness, records that Jesus was in Bethany six days before Passover. He keeps the Sabbath at the home of Lazarus, whom he raised, where dinner was served and he was anointed – the first of three suppers and two anointings over the next few days. Judas was offended by the “waste” of the ointment poured out on Jesus by Mary, Lazarus’ sister. (John 12:1-8) Then, John provides the account of the entry on Sunday and the threats of the Pharisees, who also conspired to kill Lazarus. The reason given was that much people knew that Jesus was at his house and were believing in Jesus because of Lazarus’ resurrection. (John 12:9-12) This helps to explain the large crowds on Sunday, the first day of the week before Passover. The “buzz” of Jesus’ presence in the area, the one who had raised Lazarus from the dead, spread quickly among the people. If they had missed the entry on Friday, they would not miss it on Sunday. Word had spread among the people and his arrival on Sunday truly was a triumphal entry. The praise on Friday was marked primarily by Jesus’ disciples and followers coming from Jericho who led the cheers. This also explains the seemingly odd question Matthew records – “Who is this?” (Matthew 21:9-11)

4. Before the second entry, as Jesus gazed upon the city and people he so dearly loved, knowing of their rejection of him and the coming judgment, he begins to weep and share what was about to happen. His people failed to recognize who he was. Now, it was only a matter of time before the city would be destroyed. In approximately 40 years (70 AD), the future Roman Emperor Titus would destroy Jerusalem. According to Josephus, over a million Jews were killed, and almost 100,000 enslaved. For almost 1,900 years, the Jewish people would cease to be a nation. But as prophesied, they have returned to their land in time for Jesus’ return.  Luke records Jesus’ moving words. (See also Matthew 23:36-39)

And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,
And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

(Luke 19:41-44 <KJV>)


By no means does the above represent all the differences. These are provided to get you started. For further reading I suggest the following links, The Two Entries Into Jerusalem, and for context of the week’s events, Six Days Before The Passover. Everything in God’s Word is there for a reason. No detail is unimportant. Just because some events may sound similar in Scripture, does not necessarily make them the same event. Do not assume that small differences are the result of error. The Holy Spirit was moving these men to record specific events and in a particular order. Study the Word and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the Truth to you.

On Palm Sunday, Jesus instructed his disciples to retrieve a donkey. When the owner questioned them, they were to tell him that, “The Lord needs it.” And sure enough the owner of the donkey let them take it away. God has already prepared everything you will ever need to do His will. (Isaiah 65:24, Matthew 6:7-8, 6:25-34, Luke 12:22-31, 2 Corinthians 9:6-12, Philippians 4:13-19)

Jesus Palm Sunday

Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem which was lined with people throwing their coats and palm branches in front of Jesus to celebrate the arrival of their king. They shouted, “Praise God! Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” And also, “Hail to the King of Israel!” (Psalm 118:25-26, Mark 11:8-10, Luke 19:36-40, John 12:13-15)

The religious leaders were very upset with his reception. They were jealous of Jesus, and feared the loss of their power by the people believing in Jesus. They even tried to get Jesus to silence the people, but Jesus responded that even if the crowd were silent, the stones would cry out in praise. (Luke 19:39-40)

The week would start with much of Jerusalem praising Jesus as their King. In just a few days, many would be demanding his death. Most thought Jesus was coming to be an earthly king that would rid them of the Roman occupation. They did not understand that Jesus was opening the door to a spiritual kingdom that would never end. Although his earthly Kingdom of Heaven was delayed, it is coming soon. But if you believe in your heart, and confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are spiritually reborn into the Kingdom of God now. You are part of the Body of Christ, with Jesus as the Head. Your citizenship is in Heaven, and you are deployed to this Earth as an Ambassador of Christ. (Luke 17:20-21, John 3:1-8, Romans 10:8-13, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Ephesians 2:4-10, Philippians 3:20, Colossians 1:13-18)

By Easter morning, the victory was complete. Sin and the entire curse, from death to poverty, was soundly defeated. You can now daily praise your risen Savior, and share his victory forever!

Some Reading Suggestions For Palm Sunday:
Hanna’s Parade – A story of the donkey that carried Jesus on Palm Sunday. Includes a lesson on faith and healing.

For additional Palm Sunday resources


May God Richly Bless You!
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Image Source: Free Christian Clip Art


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