Red Letter Year: 9/2

Luke 19.28-48

28 After telling this story, Jesus went on toward Jerusalem, walking ahead of his disciples. 29 As he came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead.30  “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”

32 So they went and found the colt, just as Jesus had said. 33 And sure enough, as they were untying it, the owners asked them, “Why are you untying that colt?”

34 And the disciples simply replied, “The Lord needs it.” 35 So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on.

36 As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. 37 When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.

38 “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”

39 But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!”

40 He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”

41 But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. 42 “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. 43 Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. 44 They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not accept your opportunity for salvation.”

45 Then Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people selling animals for sacrifices.46 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”

47 After that, he taught daily in the Temple, but the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the other leaders of the people began planning how to kill him. 48 But they could think of nothing, because all the people hung on every word he said.


We are getting into material shared by all four Gospels. The accounts in Mark (ch.11) and Matthew (ch.21) are more elaborate, while this one leaves some things out and John’s (ch.12) is even further truncated. I’m not a big fan of arguments from silence, but this is more argument from editing. By looking at what Luke leaves out, we can get see more clearly how Luke fits this into his Gospel and what point he was hoping we would get.

  1. There are no palm branches being waved in Luke. Since the Maccabean revolt, this had been a symbol of Jewish nationalism. The other three all record this happening and the crowd was clearly thinking along those lines, but Luke just had Jesus teach against this in the preceding chapter, so the palm branches get left out here.
  2. No fig tree cursing. Mark and Matthew connect a scene where Jesus curses a fig tree that is not yielding fruit to his time in the Temple as a commentary on the fruitlessness of Temple worship. Matthew quotes Isa. 56.7: “my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Luke leaves the “for all nations” part out because the Temple was not important for his Gentile audience or his overall project (see below). Thus the fig tree story was not needed either.
  3. The Temple clearing scene gets shortened to a single sentence. You don’t get the sense here (as you do in the others) that Jesus is causing trouble. But we are told directly that all the people were hanging on his every word. Quite a different picture here from the others.
  4. The lament over Jerusalem replaces talk of prophets with talk of Roman siege strategies. Luke has made a big deal out of Jesus as the Prophet, but here he uses language you would expect from a king.

And I think that is the point here. Luke takes away what might be misconstrued as provincial. Jesus is not a Jewish king who others might serve as vassals. Jesus is king over all directly – as many as will accept him and surrender to him as Lord. This means obedience. Allegiance. Service. Work. Jesus is the universal king. And hopefully the king of our hearts. This is what Luke wants us to see. Has Jesus lamented over the kingdom of your heart? Has he made his triumphal entry? Will you have your king?

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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