Mark 11:1-11—The Anticlimactic Arrival and Triumphal Entry

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Have you ever been watching a movie and it seems the climax is about to happen but then you look at the time and you realize there’s too much time left? Well, we have an unexpected turn of events in this Gospel story, today.  

In our text, there is an anticlimax. It’s sometimes hard to notice when you start and stop and start back again. But this story is much bigger than what Mark has written. The anticipation of the Savior began in Genesis 3 when God promised that a child would be born who would crush the head of the snake.

Ever since creation and the fall of man, creation has needed God to save us. Over many years, the Lord unfolded His plan of redemption piece by piece. We were told that this Savior would come from Abraham and then more specifically he would come from Isaac (the son of the promise) rather than Ishmael. The promise continues on to Isaac then to Jacob, not Esau. Jacob had twelve sons who become the twelve tribes of Israel.

At the end of Jacob’s life, he gathers his sons to bless them. Oddly enough, the blessing of kingship falls to Judah. I mention this because the King of Judah, the Son of David, came riding into Jerusalem in our text, this morning. Here is the blessing from Jacob.

Genesis 49:10-11   10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.  11 Binding (or tied) his foal to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine

In other words, the Savior/Messiah would be a king from the tribe of Judah until rightful praise comes to him. And he would be upon a colt.

When you think of a Savior or Messiah, it must mean he will come to save you FROM something, right? As we have already said, the coming one will crush the head of satan. But is he the only enemy? Well, no. As it turns out, there are many enemies of God. Indeed, all people are God’s enemy because of sin. So, this Messiah/King will crush them too.

But how can we be saved from God’s right judgment? Well, we need a way to satisfy the justice of God toward our sin. Sin has separated us from God. We all are or were on the wrong path. But God promised to send salvation. Strangely, this Messiah King will also be a priest. Why is that good news? Because this priest offers himself as the perfect sacrifice never to be offered again. It will be sufficient and complete. So, how do we receive this offer? In other words, how do we poor, broken sinners get our sin debt paid?

That’s what the Gospel of Mark has been about. Mark 1:1-3  The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way,  3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'”

Who is the Lord? Well the One that followed John was Jesus. Mark 1:14-15  14 ¶ Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God,  15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

God’s salvation had come! Repent and believe in the good news. But what is the good news? Jesus is the good news. Salvation was standing right in front of their faces.

Jesus is precisely the answer because he is the Son of God. God himself had come to save his people; not just from their enemies but from their sins.

But how? By might? Well, yes and no. Yes, in that he will come and destroy all enemies at the end. But first, he must deal with the sin problem or everyone will remain enemies and he must meet his own demands of perfect righteousness.

But is this Jesus the promised Messiah/Savior? How will we know? The way we are supposed to know is by looking for the One promised by God’s prophets. Here’s what Jesus said in Luke 18:31   31 ¶ And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.

That means we need to see if God’s promises in the past are fulfilled in Jesus. Let us see if this event checks the box of promises made from the prophets and Jesus himself.  

Main Point: Salvation through rejection—humility before glory—the humble King goes unnoticed


Jesus Prepares to fulfill the promises, not take it by force

King Jesus’ Royal Procession

The King Inspects the Temple

 Why is the Christ/Messiah going to Jerusalem? Three times, he has told his disciples that he must be rejected, suffer, and die. The last time, he told them it would happen in Jerusalem. And he will do it alone and he prepares the way to fulfill the promises.

Mark 11:1-3  Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples  2 and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it.  3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.'”

As they travel down the Jericho road, they approach the city. It is about 2,400 feet above sea level. The near villages of Bethany and Bethphage on the Mount of Olives stands overlooking Jerusalem. That will be the place where Jesus will return.

But for now, the Mount of Olives will be where he stays. We know Bethany to be the home of his friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

Jesus takes two unidentified disciples aside. He has a task for them. He needs a colt to ride into Jerusalem. And no, it’s not because he is tired and needs a ride. This has extraordinary meaning. Let’s get some of the details before we discover its significance.

I marvel at the way Jesus sends his disciples. He equips them for the task. He gives them everything they need to accomplish what he asks them to do. You know, we can trust him to do the same for us.

He tells them which village to go to and what they are looking for. There will be a colt tied. Yes, tied like the one promised in the Gen. 49 passage I quoted earlier.

He knows that particular colt has never been ridden. There has always been a significance to an animal on which no one had ever sat. This colt has a special task in carrying a special rider.

They are told to untie it and bring it to Jesus.

Like a father preparing his son for life, he instructs them if anyone asks what they are doing they are to say this to them: Mark 11:3  The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.'”

It is very rare that Jesus calls himself Lord like he does here. John the Baptist had come to prepare the way of the Lord. He told the Pharisees that he was Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus sent the demoniac who had a legion of demons to go and tell everyone what the Lord had done for him.

The only right conclusion is to say that Jesus is Lord.

But wait a minute. God is going to ride a colt? I don’t know how I imagine the King of kings riding into the city of Jerusalem but at least something better than a donkey colt even if no one had been on it.

This is unbelievable. There seems to be no limit to his humility. He is the Son of God and Son of Man. It wasn’t enough for the Lord to take on human flesh. This Lion of the tribe of Judah is also the Lamb. All-powerful and meek.

This should cause you to love him. Power and humility usually do not go together.

Let’s take note that the disciples find everything to be just as he said. Mark 11:4-6   4 And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it.  5 And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?”  6 And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go.

You can trust Jesus that whatever he says will be just as he said it would be. That is very good news for those who believe. It means when the day of judgment comes, Jesus will be there to plead your case. He will tell the Judge that you trusted him. And he will pronounce the guilty may go free. You will find it to be just as he says.

Jesus did all the work. God meets all of His own demands for helpless, blind sinners.

We have seen Jesus prepare to fulfill all that was promised about him from the prophets. Now let us see this King’s royal procession into the King’s city. The Son of David comes to the city of David. Will they have a throne for him?

Mark 11:7-10   7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it.  8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.  9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

This will only look significant to you when you know this was the way the prophets had promised the King would come. Notice in Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Zechariah told them to look for their King and salvation to come like this. Why? Because God decided it would be this way and so that when others would come claiming a different way through a different person then you would know that’s not the right way.

Let me share with you how someone else came and claims salvation differently than God does through Jesus. “Mohammad entered Mecca and Jesus entered Jerusalem. Mohammad rode into Mecca on a warhorse, surrounded by 400 mounted men and 10,000 foot soldiers. Those who greeted him were absorbed into his movement; those who resisted him were vanquished, killed, or enslaved. Mohammad conquered Mecca, and took control as its new religious, political and military leader.” (Dever)

Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey [not a warhorse]. He came to die not to kill. He came to serve not to be served. He came to be rejected not accepted. He came to pay the ransom not demand a ransom.

This is utterly amazing. Some of them see this. Even formally blind Bartimaeus.

You might be wondering why those with him would lay their garments on the colt and these cloaks and branches on the ground for the foal to walk on. For those who did believe he was the Son of David…the Christ, they honored him as King. It was like the red carpet.

This was done for Jehu in 2 Kings 9:12-13  12 And they said, “That is not true; tell us now.” And he said, “Thus and so he spoke to me, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, I anoint you king over Israel.'”  13 Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him on the bare steps, and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, “Jehu is king.”

I’m not sure how elaborate you could imagine this entrance to be but nothing you could come up with would be sufficient enough to honor the Son of God. He shouldn’t even be here! He is God! He doesn’t deserve the limitations of human flesh. He doesn’t deserve for his feet to be dusty and touching the ground. Do you get this? Do you see the insurmountable humility displayed by the Son of God?

We don’t get this. We think he’s like us. We forget or do not believe. Forgive me for thinking that the red carpet of Hollywood would not have been sufficient means for his entrance. Nothing would have.

The preparation. The royal entrance. Now the King (though unrecognized by most) inspects the Temple.

Mark 11:11   11 ¶ And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

We will see the significance of this in the coming weeks. Just notice it is very anticlimactic. The crowds should have been enormous. The parade procession should actually never end. But it’s quiet. It’s over. It’s exactly how we needed it to end. Rejection. There were 6 verses about the plans and only 4 concerning Jesus’ entry. That says something.

I delayed making note of the praise they give. It actually comes from Psalm 118 that was read earlier. Hosanna means “Save us, we pray.” This can be your prayer, today.

The promises were for a child. A son of Abraham. A son for the tribe of Judah who would be King. That King would come into Jerusalem riding a colt, humble and righteous. But this King would not take up a throne in Jerusalem but would take up a cross then a throne. This King would not take on a golden crown but a crown of thorns, for now. This King would succeed not by force but by giving himself up to death. In doing so, he ransomed our debt so that the guilty captives could go free by simply repenting of sin and receiving the gift of salvation by faith alone.

This was the Savior/Messiah. This Priest/King offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for the payment of our release. Your release hinges on whether you have received Jesus or not. He rides in to save you every time the gospel is preached. Don’t be like those who didn’t notice their King…their salvation.

What will you do? Is Jesus your Savior/King?

About Jason and Kimberly

Jason is the pastor of Union Hill Baptist Church in Goodlettsville, TN. Kimberly homeschools our three awesome kids. We enjoy being together as a family in wherever so long as we are together! Grace and peace to you in the Lord Jesus Christ! If you have any questions or would like to chat you can contact me at View all posts by Jason and Kimberly

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