This Sunday starts the church year, the First Sunday in Advent. But the gospel text, like last week, is somewhat close to the END of the gospel account. On the First Sunday in Advent, we normally focus on Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, just days before his death. And this year we are looking at that particular perspective of the Gospel according to Matthew [21:1-11].
Obviously entering that special city of Jerusalem was a very big deal. And entering with a donkey was an even bigger deal. A donkey was a sign of peace, unlike a horse, which was a sign of war.
That all four gospel accounts mention the entry makes it even more important. And there are some notable differences among the accounts. As usual, the Gospel according to John has a significantly different perspective; the text simply says that Jesus found a donkey and sat on it (John 12:14). The other accounts make a big deal about the disciples bringing the animal to Jesus. That special and unique perspective focuses on Jesus’ actions rather than his disciples, and this supports the connection of that gospel account to the eagle as the living creature that summarizes the account. The eagle is a different perspective from the other living creatures—the man, lion, and ox—all these creatures are normally on the ground.
Something unique to the Gospel according to Matthew is that there are two animals mentioned, not just a colt but a donkey as well. In Matthew 21:7, the text says this: ‘[The disciples] brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them (ESV; the Concordia Self-Study Bible, in its notes, indicates that the second ‘them’ means the cloaks; page 1479.).’ This difference has bothered people for literally centuries. Why would Matthew mention two animals when the others would mention just one?
Here is a thought. Since the living creature for this gospel account is a man, the seated position of a man is a very important one—a man in a seated position is a king. And the Matthew account is the only one that does not mention that people are calling Jesus a king or saying that he has a kingdom when he makes his ‘big entrance’. (In the Matthew account, he is only called the Son of David.)
We do not have a detailed description of this event, but Jesus probably sat ‘sidesaddle’ on the smaller colt, and, when the bigger donkey was walking alongside the colt, Jesus could have rested his back on the larger donkey, and this would be a similar position to a king when he sits on his throne. And having garments on both these animals would have made that position a bit easier. Again, we have no details about how this actually happened, but this would make it possible that Jesus basically used both animals and that he would be seen as a king.
On the Last Day we will know ALL the important details. I cannot wait.