Luke 19:30-31 Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, Why are you untying it? say, The Lord needs it.
As Jesus approached Jerusalem, where he would soon be crucified, he called for a colt in order to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9), wrote Zechariah.
Jesus’ fame had spread because of his many miracles (Luke 19:37), especially the raising of Lazarus (John 11:43-44). As a result, many from the city came out to greet him with messianic praise. Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven! (Matthew 21:9), they cheered. They also spread their cloaks on the road, along with palm branches, to create a royal path (Matthew 21:8). At last, it seemed, the people were receiving their Messiah.
But Jesus knew their faith was superficial, and that some would soon be calling for his crucifixion (Luke 23:21). So as he approached Jerusalem, he wept over it (Luke 19:41), and foretold its doom. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you (Luke 19:43-44).
This prophecy was fulfilled about forty years later. In AD 66, the Jews revolted against Rome, and their city was soon surrounded by Romans soldiers. It took a few years, but Jerusalem fell in AD 70. Hundreds of thousands were killed, the temple was burned, and the city was destroyed—just as Jesus foretold.
The explanation Jesus gave for this disaster is that the Jews rejected their Messiah (Luke 19:44). Many appeared to receive him, but the nation as a whole rejected him. Likewise, much of the world appears to receive Christ; but as a whole, it rejects him. And when he returns, the world will meet a similar fate (Revelation 14:19-20).
From this we learn that excitement for Christ is not a clear indication of salvation. Saving faith is marked by faithful obedience (Matthew 7:21) until the time of death. The excitement of many fades over time, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13), said Jesus. It is good to be excited for Christ, but excitement means nothing apart from faithful obedience.
Luke 23:26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.
Soon after his triumphal entry, Jesus was arrested, tried, and condemned to crucifixion. He was forced to carry his cross (John 19:17), but was so weakened by the beating he received (John 19:1-3), that he could not carry it all the way. So a man named Simon, from the city of Cyrene, was forced to carry it for him.
Humanly speaking, Simon was in the wrong place at the wrong time. To be forced to carry a cross in a parade of execution seemed like a terrible misfortune. If there was any confusion, in fact, Simon himself might have been crucified, since he was carrying the cross.
We know little more about Simon except that he had a family. His sons, Alexander and Rufus (Mark 15:21), became known to the church in Rome, and his wife is mentioned by the Apostle Paul (Romans 16:13). Putting the pieces together, it seems that Simon and his family were converted, partially due to this encounter. Perhaps they returned for Pentecost, heard Peter preach, and were baptized (Acts 2:14-41).
Simon did not want to carry Jesus’ cross, but it turned out to be the honor of his life. From this we learn not to judge a misfortune on the day it occurs, because we do not know what good it will bring. Whenever misfortune occurs, just wait three days. That’s how long it took for Jesus to rise from the dead.
Luke 23:34 Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
With these amazing words, Jesus prayed for his executioners. He could have quoted the prophet Jeremiah: Bring on them the day of disaster; destroy them with double destruction (Jeremiah 17:18). Or he could have quoted King David: Pour out your wrath on them; let your fierce anger overtake them (Psalm 69:24). Instead, Jesus followed his own teaching: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27-28).
Jesus wants the best for everyone, including his enemies. God is not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), wrote Peter. God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4), wrote Paul.
A young butcher slaughtered his first lamb, but it went badly. After slitting its throat, the lamb got away, and staggered around the pen. Just before it died, it staggered back to the butcher, and licked his hand. Likewise, Jesus loved his killers while they were still killing him. God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8), wrote Paul.
Reflection and Review
Why was Jesus sad as he rode into Jerusalem?
What can we learn from Simon of Cyrene?
Why did Jesus want his enemies to be forgiven?