DID CHRIST MAKE TWO TRIUMPHAL ENTRIES INTO JERUSALEM?
I doubt that there is anyone who admires Dr. E.W.Bullinger more that I do for his love of the Living and written Word, and his knowledge of each. But I believe that Dr. Bullinger would rather we search the Scriptures to “see if these things be true”, then to merely accept his teachings without being good Bereans. Even though I disagree with Dr. Bullinger on this issue, I believe that I am honoring him and his approach to the Word of God by presenting this study.
In Appendix 153 of the Companion Bible Dr, Bullinger wrote, “….one entry (Matt. 21:1-9) takes place before the other, which is recorded in Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:30-34 and John 12:12-15”. In the Appendix 156 Dr. Bullinger explains further that the entry into Jerusalem as recorded in Matthew occurred on the sixth day before Passover and that the supposed second entry into Jerusalem, as recorded in Mark, occurred on the fourth day before Passover.
I believe that there was just one entry into Jerusalem in the last week before the crucifixion of Christ. The reason for that belief is based primarily on the fact that both Matthew and Mark tell us that Christ came to Jerusalem from Jericho whereupon He sent His disciples to bring him the animal(s) that He would ride into Jerusalem. If there were two entries into Jerusalem that would mean that Christ would have come from Jericho to Jerusalem, then gone back to Jericho and come again to Jerusalem. Jericho to Jerusalem is a 34 mile round trip. Dr. Bullinger suggests that the first entry into Jerusalem took place on the sixth day before Passover and the second entry on the fourth day before Passover. That would mean that Christ and His disciples made a totally unnecessary 34 mile round trip in the space of two days. That, in my opinion, makes no sense, and is not a likely scenario. Let us first look at the scriptures that tell us from where Christ came to Jerusalem when He made His entry.
We read in Matt. 20:29, “And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed Him….”. The remainder of this chapter tells of Christ’s giving sight to the two blind men. Then in 21:1-2 we read, “And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying unto them, ‘Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt…….”. The next verses through verse 11 tell of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.
Now let us consider Mark 10:46, “And they came to Jericho……”. The remainder of this chapter tells again of the healing of the two blind men. Then in 11:1 we read, “and when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of His disciples”. The next verses through verse 10 tells of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.
In short, both Matthew and Mark record Christ coming from Jericho unto Jerusalem to make His entry into Jerusalem. If there were two entries, Christ would have had to come from Jericho for His first entry, then gone back to Jericho and come back again (a 34 mile round trip) to Jerusalem for His second entry. As mentioned above I find that highly unlikely and therefore must respectively disagree with Dr. Bullinger’s view of two entries.
A CONSIDERATION OF THE REASONS FOR THE CONCLUSION THAT THERE WERE TWO ENTRIES
This study would not be complete if we did not consider the reasons Dr. Bullinger gave for his view that there were two entries into Jerusalem. Those reasons are given in the Appendix 153 of the Companion Bible which I will quote and then comment on.
“1) In Matthew the Lord had actually arrived at Bethphage. In Luke He was ‘come nigh‘ (engisen); in Mark ‘they are approaching‘ (engizousin).”
Let us examine the two accounts as recorded in Matth. 21:1 and Mark 11:1 which Dr. Bullinger sees as contradicting each other. We read in Matt. 21:1, “And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage…..”. The note in the Companion Bible on the phrase, “were come” reads, “had arrived”. That tells us that Christ and His disciples had arrived at Bethphage which was near Jerusalem.
Mark 11:1 reads, “And when they came nigh to Jerusalem unto Bethphage and Bethany.....”. The Greek preposition translated “unto” (“they came unto Bethphage….”) is “eis”. The definition given in the Ap. 104 of the Companion Bible of “eis” reads, “….it denotes motion to or unto an object….”. This implies that Christ and His disciples had not quite reached Bethphage and Bethany. Because I do not believe that Christ would have come from Jericho to Jerusalem, made an entrance into Jerusalem and then gone back to Jericho in order to come back again to Jerusalem for a second entrance. I believe there is a different explanation for the fact that Matthew wrote that they had arrived and Mark wrote that they were coming to their destination.
Note that both Mark and Luke (Luke 19:29) wrote that they were coming to “Bethphage and Bethany”. In my opinion the fact that the cites are twice mentioned together, tells us that the two cities were close enough together to be thought of much like the so-called “twin cities” of Minneapolis/St. Paul in Minnesota. That would mean that Matthew wrote that they had arrived at Bethphage, but Mark tells us that they were still approaching the other city, Bethany.
When Christ and His disciples left Jerusalem at the end of the day of His entry into Jerusalem they went to Bethany, which we may assume was closer than was Bethphage. In other words, as Christ and the disciples approached Jerusalem they came first to Bethphage so Matthew could write that they had arrived at Bethphage. But Bethany was in the same area but a bit further on. So Mark just coming to Bethany would write that they had approached Bethphage and Bethany.
2) In Matthew the village lay just off the road (apenanti); in Luke and Mark it was below them, and opposite (katenanti).
Let us first read the two verses that are said to demand two entrances in order to avoid a contradiction. Mark 11:2 reads, “And saith unto them ‘Go your way into the village over against you….”. Matt. 21:2 reads, “Saying unto them, ‘Go into the village over against you”. There doesn’t seem to be a contradiction, but the Greek word translated “over against” needs to be considered.
The note in the Companion Bible in Matt. 21:2 on the Greek word “apenanti” (translated “over against”) reads, “apenanti= facing you”. But the Greek word translated “over against” in Mark 11:2 is “katenanti, which, according to the note in the Companion Bible, means “below and opposite”.
The question is then, which word did Christ use, was it “apenanti” or was it “katenanti”? The NIV Interlinear has the same Greek word (“katenanti”) for both Matt. 21:2 and Mark 11:2. But Dr. Bullinger wrote in the note on Matt. 21:2, “In Mark and Luke katenanti=opposite and below, preferred, here by all the texts. But the text may have been altered to make Matt. agree with Mark and Luke”.
In other words, an indisputable case cannot be made either way for which Greek word was used in Matt. 21:2. The NIV Interlinear indicates that it is the same in Matthew as it is in Mark and Luke. Dr. Bullinger on the other hand, believes that the texts in Matthew may have been made to agree with Mark and Luke. In my opinion, it is best to not make this an argument either way. That is to say, since there seems to be some controversy as to what word the Lord did use, we cannot make this word proof of one or two entries into Jerusalem.
3) In the former, two animals were sent for and used; in the latter, only one.” Let us look at Matthew’s and Mark’s account of Christ sending for the animals.
In Matt. 21:2, “….Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me”.
Mark 11:2 reads, “…..Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.”
Mark records Christ telling His disciples to bring a colt, but he does not record anything about an ass. That does not mean that Christ didn’t mention two animals, it means only that Mark did not record Christ mentioning two animals. In other words, there is no contradiction here that requires the conclusion that there were two entries. Further, Matthew specifically wrote in 21:4 that the prophecy of Zech. 9:9 was fulfilled. That prophecy does mention two animals and would not have been fulfilled if Matthew had not recorded the Lord’s asking for the two. Mark on the other hand, does not mention the prophecy and therefore, it was not necessary for Mark to record Christ asking for the two animals mentioned in the original prophecy.
But let us look at another difference in these two accounts. In Matthew’s account we read our Lord telling His disciples of an ass that was tied and a colt with her. But Mark tells us that Christ told them that no one had ever sat on the colt. The point is that Matthew’s account and Mark’s account complete each other. That is to say, Matthew tells us that they were to bring two animals but not that the colt had never been sat upon. Mark’s account, on the other hand, does not mention the ass, but does tell us more about the colt.
This practice of each Gospel completing the others is a standard one. Let us, for example compare the account of John the Baptist’s ministry in each of the four Gospels. Matt. 3:7-10 tells us of John’s preaching to the Pharisees and Sadducees. Mark does not mention that sermon. Luke is the only Gospel writer to include the quote from Is. 40, “All flesh shall see the salvation of God”. John quotes less from Is. 40 than the other Gospel writers, but does tell us that John the Baptist denied that he was the Christ.
In short, the fact that in Matthew’s Gospel Christ asked for two animals while in Mark he mentions only the colt, does not mean that one contradicts the other to the point that we must conclude that they refer to two different occasions. They simply complete one another.
4) In the former, the prophecy of Zech. 9:9, which required the two animals, is said to have been fulfilled; in the latter, the prophecy was not said to be fulfilled and only so much of it is quoted (Jn. 12:15) as agrees with it.
In point of fact, Mark does not even mention the prophecy of Zech. 9:9. Is that sufficient evidence to conclude that that proves a different event than was recorded in Matthew? In my opinion, this is not sufficient evidence in light of the fact that two entries necessitates a totally unnecessary round trip of 34 miles.
5) The former seems to have been unexpected, for ‘all the city was moved, saying, ‘Who is this?’ (Matt. 21:10-11), while, if there was only one entry, the two accounts are inexplicable, seeing that the later and subsequent entry was prepared for: much people in the city ‘heard that He was coming;, and ‘went forth to meet Him’ Jn. 12:12-13).
The latter, therefore, was the great formal entry of the Lord, called ‘the triumphal entry’, which took place on what is called’ Palm Sunday’ “.
Let us look once again at Matthew’s account to determine if the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem was “unexpected”. We read in Matt. 21:8-11, “And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried saying, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest’. And when He was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved saying, ‘Who is This?‘ and the multitude said, ‘This is Jesus the Prophet of Nazareth of Galilee'”.
I do not believe that the question “Who is this?” implies that He was not expected. I believe that He was not known by some in the city itself. Let’s not forget that even at this time there were Jews in dispersion. Many who were in Jerusalem had come from areas of the world to which Christ had not ministered in order to celebrate Passover in the city of Jerusalem, according to the law (see Deut. 16:6). These may not have even heard of Christ.
In short there is, in my opinion, no reason to assume that the question “Who is this?” implies anything but the most obvious, i.e. as Christ made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem some did not know Who Christ was.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org