This commentary on Mark 11:1-11 focuses on the lessons learned from the donkey used to ride into Jerusalem during His triumphant entry. By riding the donkey Jesus demonstrated Himself to be a peaceful King, prophetic King, servant King, and saving King.
A day does not go by that God wants you to know that He loves you. Others may tell you they don’t love you anymore or act like they don’t care about you anymore. However, God says I will never leave you nor forsake you and nothing can separate you from My love. This God who loves you is also your King.
At one time you were an enemy and at war with this King. Because of your sin, a huge wall of hostility separated you from Him. This King is a God of peace who wanted to be reconciled and reunited with you. He wanted you in His family and He wanted you to be a friend. Out of His love for you, this King took action. He sent His Son to remove the wall of hostility so you could be forgiven, accepted, and adopted into the His family, the King’s family.
When you placed your faith in Him for salvation you became born again into divine royalty. The Bible says, “You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into the wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9, NLT). As His child, you are able to live a life that declares Jesus as the King of kings and the Lord or lords. You represent your King. You can now demonstrate how good your King is by forgiving others, blessing others, and showing up to work and doing your best because you know you really work for your King. You no longer walk around in darkness, confusion, and doubt. You walk in the light and you see life from a new perspective. You see it from an eternal view, spiritual view, and a view full of hope. You know where you have been, but you can see where you are headed. The best days of your life are not behind you, they are a head of you. You are the son or daughter of the King. One day that King is going to come through the clouds and gather His people and take them home.
Today, we are going to think about our King. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus, I want you to know your King is on your side. He is your defender, your advocate, your refuge, and your protector.
As I read Mark 11:1-11, I want you to pay attention to the donkey. The donkey may seem insignificant, but God has placed a ton of truth on the back of this little donkey that we need to seriously consider for our own lives.
As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. 2 “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it and will return it soon.’” 4 The two disciples left and found the colt standing in the street, tied outside the front door. 5 As they were untying it, some bystanders demanded, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They said what Jesus had told them to say, and they were permitted to take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it. 8 Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David! Praise God in highest heaven!” 11 So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. After looking around carefully at everything, he left because it was late in the afternoon. Then he returned to Bethany with the twelve disciples. (NLT)
Mark tells us two unidentified disciples “brought the colt to Jesus….” This colt was a young donkey. Jesus uses this little donkey to help us see what kind of King Jesus really is and what we can expect from Him. Jesus used this donkey to reveal Himself as a King. What kind of King is Jesus?
The Peaceful King
First, Jesus used this donkey to reveal Himself as a peaceful King. Because of the Roman Empire the people were very familiar with Roman Generals and Kings riding into a city in a triumphant processional. These triumphant parades would be a display of the king’s power, might, and wealth. They would have large animals and ferocious beast as part of the parade. It would include marching soldiers and various weapons that were used. Within the parade they would have some of the prisoners of war marching in chains to be used for entertainment later that evening in the arena as they would be fed to the lions, tortured, and executed. The victorious king or general would often be riding one of the great stallions. He and the horse would be decorated in majestic clothing. The Roman triumphant processional was a display of strength, authority, and prosperity.
In contrast, Jesus would come riding in on a young donkey, with His feet barely off the ground. When a ruler rode into a town or city on a donkey it was a display of peace, rather than war. This was the Lord’s subtle way of saying, “I bring peace.” Ultimately, Jesus did. According to 1 Timothy 2, “There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone” (v.5, NLT). Jesus came to reconcile and bring peace between you and God. Jesus riding this young donkey into Jerusalem points to His kingdom being a kingdom of peace between us and God. He is a peaceful King.
As a follower of Jesus, you represent this King of Peace. Not only do you have peace with God because of Christ, but you are called upon to have peace with others. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (NIV 84). God’s wants you to be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker. There are people in your life who are easily offended, be careful what you say and how you say it. Being a peacemaker is putting others first. Be kind, humble, and loving. If you have to be firm and confront someone, do it with gentleness and love. Not everyone is going to want to be at peace with you. Some people have to have conflict in their life, they don’t know how to be a person of peace, but you do. If it is possible and as far as it depends on you live at peace with those in your life.
The Prophetic King
When Jesus rode in on that donkey, He was saying He comes in peace. Number two, Jesus used this donkey to reveal Himself as a prophetic King. As Jesus was riding that donkey into Jerusalem, He was fulfilling prophecy about the coming Messiah. Back in Zechariah 9:9 the Bible says, “Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt” (NLT). For those who had eyes to see, He was fulfilling this prophecy and once again proving He was the true Messiah and the Son of God. His own disciples did not understand this until later on (John 12:16).
As a prophetic King, Jesus is omniscient
As a prophetic King, Jesus knows what is coming. He is omniscient. This is why He knew where the donkey would be, that it would be tied up, that someone would ask the disciples what they were doing. Your prophetic and omniscient King knows what is about to take place in great detail. He has told His disciples that when He gets to Jerusalem the religious leaders will conspire against Him, He will be arrested, beaten, mocked, and crucified, but He also said He would rise from the dead in three days. He knows the future (Mark 10:32-34). He is a prophetic and omniscient King.
As a prophetic King, Jesus is omnipotent
As a prophetic King, Jesus is in control. He is omnipotent. Not only can Jesus tell you what’s going to happen, but He can make it happen. This is why God can make a way where there is no way. He is all-powerful. This is why He can walk on water and calm the storms. He is omnipotent. This is why He can cleanse the leper, make the crippled walk, the deaf hear, and the blind see. He is in control. This is why He can cast out demons and raise the dead. He is omnipotent, all-powerful, and in control. Nothing is to small or to big for Him.
As a follower of Jesus, that’s your King!
The Servant King
Jesus is a peaceful King and a prophetic King. Number three, Jesus used this donkey to reveal Himself as a servant King. When rulers wanted to present themselves as servants of the people, they rode donkeys (Judges 10:4; 12:14). Donkeys were known to be work animals. Servants of the people. By riding in on a donkey Jesus was telling the people He had come to serve them. Just a few days earlier Jesus said something incredible in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (NLT). Jesus willingly served you when He was willingly sacrificed on the cross for your sins. Jesus demonstrated the greatest act of service in all of history when He was nailed to that cross, died on that cross, and was separated from the Heavenly Father for you and I. Jesus is a serving King.
As a follower of Jesus, you represent your servant King. In 1 Peter 4:10 we are told, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another” (NLT). God has equipped you and given you and prepared you to serve others. You have a spiritual gift that God has given to you. Use it well to serve others. Use it well to bless and help others. Use it well to build up others. God doesn’t want you to sit through life, He wants you to serve through life. Jesus is your servant King, represent Him well by serving others.
The Saving King
Jesus is a peaceful King. He is a prophetic King. He is a Servant King. Number four, Jesus used this donkey to reveal Himself as a saving King. There is something about this donkey that I can’t pass up and not mention. Throughout God’s Word, God uses many objects to help us understand salvation. He uses the concept of being born again to help us understand salvation. He used a well and living water to illustrate salvation. He used illnesses and miracles to demonstrate what salvation is – the blind seeing and the crippled walking. He raised people back from the dead to demonstrate salvation.
He does the same thing with this donkey. A very unlikely and unusual object lesson when it comes to salvation. This donkey demonstrates, in its own way, Jesus as a saving King. Let me show you what I mean.
I’m going to give you five words that demonstrate salvation in relation to this donkey.
The first word, recognizes. That donkey is recognized by Jesus. Jesus knew where the donkey was tied up. Jesus told His disciples to “go into that village over there.” Jesus recognized and knew exactly where that donkey was tied up.
Jesus knows exactly where you are tied up. He knows what you are in bondage to. He knows what your sinful ball and chain is. He knows that you are a sinner, but He has a plan for you. He has no intentions of leaving you tied up to sin.
Word number two, released. That donkey is released by Jesus. Jesus sends two disciples to the village and He tells them to “untie it.” Everyone who has been set free by Jesus can tell you of people that He sent into their lives to help them get untied from sin. You help untie people from sin every time you share the gospel, share biblical wisdom, and live a life that follows Christ for them to have an example. You encourage them in their walk with God, you motive them to make right decisions based on God’s Word, you help them to think about eternal things and about things above. God uses those moments to help untie His people.
Word number three, redeemed. That donkey is redeemed by Jesus. Jesus tells His disciples that after they have untied the donkey they are to “bring it here.” Jesus says bring the donkey to me. The word redeemed means to purchase back or rescue from captivity or bondage. To redeem something is to give it new life and a new purpose. When that donkey was untied and brought to Jesus, redemption was happening. That donkey was about to experience the real reason why it was born. It wasn’t born to be tied up, but to be used by the King.
Word number four, ruled. The donkey is ruled by Jesus. Notice Jesus told the disciples to say “the Lord needs it” and then when they brought the donkey to Him “he sat on it” and we are told “no one has ever ridden” it. This is significant. This donkey was still wild in nature. The donkey was untied, but He was still wild. He had not been broken. He had not been ridden. But Jesus “sat on it” and by doing so, ruled it. The donkey surrendered to the authority of Jesus.
You may be untied from your sins. You may be saved, but you have some growing to do. You need to learn what it looks like to submit your life to the Lord’s authority. You are untied, but you are still wild. You still need to let the Lord’s authority sit on your money, sit on your time, sit on your relationship. You need to submit yourself and everything you have for the Lord’s use. You need to be ruled.
The final word, returned. The donkey is returned by Jesus. Jesus told the disciples to tell whoever asked about the donkey that after the Lord is done with it they “will return it.” When Jesus returns it, it will not be this wild colt anymore but a submissive animal. It will be an animal that God used and will use. It will be different. It will be better.
When God gets a hold of someone and Jesus is their Lord and Savior they change. Their King has them untied. Their King has them brought to Himself. Their King rules them and places their authority over them. Their King returns them. They become different. They become better. They return a new person. They have a new heart. When Jesus is their Lord and as they grow spiritually they become more loving, more kind, more patient, and more understanding. They return differently. They now represent their King.
- God got a hold of doubting Abram and returned Him as Abraham, a mighty man of faith.
- God got a hold of a mean and vicious man named Saul and returned him as the apostle Paul.
- God got a hold of a fisherman named Simon and returned him as the apostle Peter.
- God got a hold of a little boys sack lunch and returned it where it fed thousands.
- God got a hold of some old dried up bones and returned them in the form of an army.
- God got a hold of a dead man named Lazarus and returned Him alive.
- God is able to take the old and return it as new. In Christ you become a new creation.
This donkey reminds me that God can take anything that seems insignificant and use it in His Kingdom, point people to Himself, and illustrate incredible divine truths we all need to know. You can be used by God.
Jesus is a peaceful King, a prophetic King, a servant King, and a saving King. You can trust Him, love Him, and depend on Him. He loves you, wants you, and can give you significance.