DID CHRIST MAKE TWO TRIUMPHAL ENTRIES INTO JERUSALEM?
It is clear that there are indeed differences in the Gospel accounts of the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem and the events surrounding it. The question is: do those differences require the conclusion that they record different events or, as I believe to be the case, are they additional facts so that by studying each account the reader has a full understanding of the event(s)? And that brings up another question: How does one determine which is the correct approach? That is to say, how does one determine if the differences speak of a different event or if they are additional facts? I suggest we go back to the beginning of the Bible for the answer to those questions.
Genesis chapter one gives an account of creation and Genesis chapter two gives a different account of creation. Do these differences require the conclusion that there were two earths created? I believe not. Why not? Because neither contradicts the other, chapter two simply adds different details to what was recorded in chapter one.
My point is that the Old Testament sets the precedence for the approach to studying the four Gospels. And that approach is that if different facts of the same event are presented but do not contradict each other, those differences do not demand the conclusion that they refer to different events.
Let us consider the Gospels with that view in mind. (It would take us much too far off our topic to prove the following, but each suggestion is discussed and proved in the paper on the supposed errors in the Bible).
The Gospels open with very different chronologies of Christ. But none contradict the others, therefore we may conclude that they all speak of one Person, Jesus Christ.
The Baptism of Christ is described differently in the Gospel accounts of that event. Again, none contradict the others, therefore we may conclude that they all speak of one baptism.
The Gospel accounts of the last supper vary quite a bit, but no account contradicts another. We may conclude therefore, that there was but one last supper.
The Gospel accounts of the arrest of Christ vary, but none contradicts another. We may conclude therefore that there was but one arrest.
The Gospel writers do not include the entire inscription written on the cross, but there was but one cross.
No Gospel writer included all of the seven last words of Christ but they were all spoken at the same event, i.e. the crucifixion of Christ. .
The description of the scene on resurrection morning varies a great deal in the Gospels, but none contradict the others, so we may conclude that there was but one resurrection morning.
No Gospel writer includes all of the twelve post resurrection appearances of Christ.
The account of the ascension is different in some Gospels but none contradicts another.
In short, I believe that if there are no contradictions in the various descriptions of an event, we may conclude that the variations are additions rather than a description of a different event.
DR, E.W. BULLINGER’S VIEW ON THE TWO 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. Let me put that in other terms.
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. I find that highly unlikely and therefore must respectively disagree with Dr. Bullinger’s view of two entries.
I would like to share several more difficulties with the suggestion of two triumphal entries into Jerusalem. If Matthew 21 is a record of one triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and Mark 11 the record of a second entry, that would mean that the other events recorded in Matt. 21 and Mark 11 also occurred twice. Let me explain.
The Anointing of Christ
In Matthew 26:6 we read that Christ was anointed in the house of “Simon the leper”. And that the ointment was poured on Christ’s head (vs. 7). But in John’s account recorded in chapter 12 we read that “Martha served” (vs. 2) and that Mary wiped Christ’s feet (vs. 3).
The seeming inconsistencies in the two accounts are easily reconciled. While the supper was at the home of Simon the leper, Martha served and Mary anointed Christ in Simon’s home. And I do not find it a problem that in one account the ointment was poured on Christ’s head and in the other on His feet because both could very well be true.
But when was this anointing? We read in Jn. 12:1, “Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany…”. Verses 2-8 of that chapter record the anointing of Christ. Let us consider verses 3-8, “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus….. . Then saith one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray Him, ‘Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?’ ……Then Jesus said, ‘Let her alone: against the day of My burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you: but Me ye have not always’”.
Now let us consider Matthew’s account of the anointing of Christ. We read in Matt. 26:6-13, “Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto Him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on His head as He sat at meat. But when His disciples saw it, they had indignation saying, ‘To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor’. When Jesus understood it, He said unto them, ‘Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon Me. For ye have the poor always with you, but Me ye have not always….’”.
Did Judas make the same comment that he had made just a few days before, for which he had been soundly criticized by Christ? I do not believe that that is a reasonable conclusion. To say that there were two anointings is, in my opinion, just too much of a stretch of possibilities. I believe there was but one anointing.
But the Gospel writers differed somewhat in exactly what was said. Does that require two events, i.e. two anointings? I believe not. When, for example, Christ was crucified He made seven last statements. No Gospel writer included all seven. Does that mean that there was more than one crucifixion? Of course it doesn’t. It means that each Gospel writer recorded what the Holy Spirit caused him to record. So John quoted Judas as saying “‘Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, but Matthew left off that statement. Matthew included the statement “To what purpose is this waste?” but John did not.
But none of these inclusions/exclusions contradict the other account. Therefore, there is no reason to assume more than one anointing. Let us pull the statements together and I believe the reader will see the point.
“To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?’ ……Then Jesus said, ‘‘Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon Me. Let her alone: against the day of My burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you: but Me ye have not always’”.
In other words, each Gospel writer was led by the Holy Spirit to write part of what was said, but because there is no contradiction in the Gospel accounts, the differences do not require the conclusion of different events any more than Christ’s last words not being recorded in all Gospels requires more than one crucifixion.
Now let us consider the triumphal entry with respect to the anointing of Christ. John records the triumphal entry into Jerusalem “the next day” (vs. 12) i.e. the day after the anointing. Matthew’s account of the anointing is recorded in chapter 26 of his Gospel, whereas the triumphal entry was recorded in chapter 21. Were there two anointings, i.e. one before the triumphal entry and another after it? Because I do not believe that Judas would have opened himself to Christ’s rebuke twice in the period of just a few days, I do not believe there were two anointings.
How then are we to account for Matthew’s recording of the anointing after he recorded the triumphal entry? For the answer to that question let us return to Matt. 26:6-7 which reads, “Now when Jesus was in Bethany…..there came unto Him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment….”. Let us consider the context of this passage. We read in verse 3, “Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest…..”. The palace of the high priest was, or course, in Jerusalem. Now let us consider verse 14 where we read that Judas, “went unto the chief priests”. The chief priests were, or course, in Jerusalem.
Here is my point: The passage in Matt. 26:6-13 which records Christ in Bethany and His anointing there, is a parenthetical passage. Note again the phrase in verse 6, “Now when Jesus was in Bethany”. Jesus was not in Bethany in this context, He was in Jerusalem. Therefore, the passage concerning the anointing of Christ is parenthetical, and chronologically goes before chapter 21. To not see this passage as a parenthetical statement means that in verses 3-5 Christ was in Jerusalem, in verses 6-13 He was in Bethany and in verses 14 and on, He was in Jerusalem again, and there is no evidence to support that. I believe common sense requires a parenthetical statement.
Parenthetical statements are often used in the Bible. Consider for example, Exodus chapters 10-12. Chapter 10:1-32 and chapter 11:10-26 record the genealogy of the sons of Noah, But in the middle of that, i.e. 11:1-9 is a description of the events surrounding the tower of Babel. My point is that the parenthetical statement in Matt. 26 has Scriptural precedence.
Now let us consider John’s time line of when the triumphal entry occurred. We read in Jn. 12:12-13, “On the next day much people that were come to the feast…..took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet Him”. This is very clear, i.e. the triumphal entry took place the day after the anointing of Christ. But what day was that? We read in Jn. 12:1, “Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany…”. But according to Matthew’s Gospel, Christ’s entry was two days before the Passover. How do we know that? Chapters 21-25 of Matthew’s Gospel record the triumphal entry and all the things Christ did and said the day after the entry. We read in Matt. 26:1-2, “And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings (those sayings of the day after His triumphal entry), He said unto His disciples, ‘Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover…’”.
So we have this seeming difficulty where John seems to say that the entry into Jerusalem was five days before the passover, and Matthew records that entry as occurring two days before passover. How then are we to account for this seeming contradiction of how many days before the passover Christ had made His triumphal entry? Again, I do not believe that Judas made the same comment about the ointment and opened himself up to the same criticism in the period of just a few days. Therefore I believe that there was one anointing and one entry.
But if there was only one anointing and one entry how can we reconcile John’s account of Christ arriving in Bethany six days before the passover with the entry “the next day”, and Matthew’s account of the entry two days before the Passover? I suggest that we consider Jn. 12 once again. We read in verse 1 that Christ had come to Bethany six days before Passover, and in verse 2 we read, “There they made Him a supper” at which time He was anointed. There is nothing in these two verses to indicate that the supper was prepared the same day Christ had arrived in Bethany. It is assumed that it was, but that assumption forces us to conclude that there were two anointings, which I do not believe is likely.
Christ was crucified on the day of Passover which was, that year, on a Wednesday (for the Scriptural evidence of that statement please see the paper on that subject ).
Six days before the Passover, i.e. the Thursday before, Christ came to Bethany.
On Saturday before Passover Christ was anointed.
And the next day, i.e. on a Sunday, Christ made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
In Matthew’s Gospel we have Christ asking for “an ass and a colt” (Matt. 21:2) for His entry into Jerusalem. But Mark records Christ asking for a colt, i.e. one animal. Some believe that the difference in Christ’s request as recorded in Matthew and Mark means that they were made at different times. Let us consider that suggestion.
As stated above in the section on the anointing of Christ, when Christ was crucified He made seven last statements. But no Gospel writer included all seven. Obviously that does not mean that there was more than on crucifixion. It means that each Gospel writer recorded what the Holy Spirit caused him to record. Therefore, I do not believe that because one Gospel writer recorded Christ asking for two animals, and the other recording Christ asking for just one, suggests two different events.
Overturning of the Tables in the Temple
Let us consider Christ overturning the tables etc. in the temple. If, as Dr. Bullinger suggests, Matthew’s Gospel recorded that event as occurring on a Thursday, i.e. the day of Christ’s supposed first triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and Mark’s Gospel recorded those events, again as suggested by Dr. Bullinger, on a Sunday, we have the very unlikely scenario that Christ overturned the tables etc. in the temple two times separated by just a few days. I do not see that as a likely scenario.
Cursing of the Fig Tree
Let us say for the sake of argument, that Christ, as suggested by Dr. Bullinger, entered Jerusalem the first time on a Thursday, and the second time on a Sunday. That would mean that He cursed the fig tree twice, on the following days of each entry, i.e. on a Friday and on a Monday. Let us consider the passages that record the cursing of the fig tree.
We read in Matt. 21:17-19, “And He left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and He lodged there. 18) Now in the morning as He returned into the city, He hungered. 19) And when He saw a fig tree in the way, He came to it and found nothing thereon; but leaves only, and said unto it, ‘Let no fruit grow on thee hence forward for ever….”.
So we have, according to Matthew’s account, Christ cursing the fig tree the day after His supposed first entry into Jerusalem on Thursday. That means that Christ supposedly cursed the fig tree on Friday. But if Mark records Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem occurring on a Sunday then the cursing of the fig tree must have occurred on a Monday. That means that Christ cursed the tree twice, i.e. once on a Friday after His supposed first entrance into Jerusalem, and again on Monday after His supposed second entrance. But a second cursing is not likely because the tree had already withered (see Matt. 21:20) when it was supposedly cursed on the previous Friday, so there would be no point in cursing it again.
In short, I do not think it likely that Christ cursed an already withered tree a second time. But if the events as recorded in Matthew’s Gospel occurred on one day, and the events recorded in Mark’s Gospel occurred a few days later, that is exactly the scenario that that produces, i.e. Christ cursed the tree two times.
The Seeming Contradictions in Mark’s Account
I believe that Christ made one triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the Sunday before Passover. However, we must account for the fact that it is clear that Matthew describes the events in the temple as occurring on the same day as Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but Mark seems to put those same events on the day following Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.
Let us consider Mark 11:11-19, “And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when He had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, He went out unto Bethany with the twelve. 12) And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, He was hungry. 13) And seeing the fig tree afar off having leaves He came if haply He might find any thing thereon; (and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves): for the time of figs was not yet. 14) And Jesus answered and said unto it, ‘No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever’. And His disciples heard it. 15) And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves. 16) And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. 17) And He taught saying unto them, ‘Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves’. 18) And the scribes and chief priest heard it, and sought how they might destroy Him: for they feared Him because all the people was astonished at His doctrine. 19) And when even was come, He went out of the city”.
For the sake of clarity let us assign days to the events described in this passage. Because I do not believe that Christ overturned the tables two times, I will suggest the days according to a one-time entry view. In verse 11 we read of Christ entering Jerusalem and going into the temple, but after looking around He and His disciples “went out into Bethany”. Then in verses 12-14 we read “On the morrow” Christ cursed the fig tree and overturned the tables in the temple. That means that Christ overturned the tables on a Monday which clearly contradicts Matt. 21:10-16. How are we to understand this seeming contradiction?
I suggest, that in order to avoid an obvious contradiction between Matthew’s account that Christ was in the temple on a Sunday, and Mark’s account that He was in the temple on a Monday, we have two options. 1) There were two triumphal entries, two cursings of the fig tree, and two overturnings of tables etc. in the temple. Or 2) verses 12-14 of Mark 11 are parenthetical. Let me explain that for clarity.
If, as I believe to be the case, verses 12 through 14 are parenthetical, if we momentarily leave off the parenthetical statements, that passage, beginning with verse 10 would then read, “ Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple; and when He had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come He went out unto Bethany with the twelve. 15) And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers……….. 18) And the scribes and chief priest heard it, and sought how they might destroy Him: for they feared Him because all the people was astonished at His doctrine. 19) And when even was come, He went out of the city”.
In other words, verse 11 speaks of Christ coming to the temple on Sunday, and then leaving to go to Bethany. Then verses 12-14 speak of the events of Monday and then verse 15 comes back to Sunday when Christ was in the temple. It is important to note the parallel phrases in verses 11 and 15. In verse 11 we read, “And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple”. And in verse 15 we read, “And they come to Jerusalem and Jesus went into the temple”.
To clarify let me put this in an outline form:
- Verses 1-11 record the events of Sunday
B Verses 12-14 record the events of Monday
A1 Verses 15-19 record the events of Sunday
B1 Verses 20-14:1 record the events of Monday
If indeed we do see a parenthetical statement, that would mean that Mark’s account would match perfectly with Matthew’s account. That is to say, both accounts would have the triumphal entry and the events in the temple on a Sunday, and the cursing of the fig tree on a Monday.
But one might ask, “Why would Mark write his account as he did”? I suggest that the purpose of not stating the events of those two days in chronological order was to call the reader’s attention to the events that occurred in those two days. Let me explain.
Dr. Bullinger has written a widely respected two volume book on figures of speech in the Bible. As explained in the book, figures of speech are used to emphasize and/or throw light on a truth. One figure of speech discussed in his book is Simultaneum which is defined as, “A kind of historical parenthesis, an event being put out of its historical place between two others which are simultaneous”. The example given is Rev. 16:14-16. Verse 14 of Rev. 16 speaks of the sixth vial being poured out during the great tribulation. And verse 17 speaks of the seventh vial being poured out, also to be done during the tribulation. The verses in between, i.e. verses 14-16 speak of the second coming of Christ. “Those verses begin, “Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments…..”. Obviously, Christ will not return between the sixth and seventh vial of the tribulation. This is, in my opinion, an excellent example of the same figure of speech we see in Mark 11 where the record of the events of the Sunday in which Christ made His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem are interrupted by the record of the events of the following day, i.e. the cursing of the fig tree.
In short, I believe that Mark inserted a parenthetical statement of the cursing of the fig tree to throw light on it. What was it that Mark wanted his readers to see? In order to answer that question let us consider another, i.e., why did Christ curse the fig tree?
We read in Mark 11:20-22 of the event which occurred the day after the fig tree was cursed, “And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto Him, ‘Master, behold the fig tree which Thou cursedst is withered away’. And Jesus answering saith unto them, ‘Have faith in God’”.
Much has been written about what the tree represents. But the event described here is not a parable. That is to say, if Christ had told a parable it may (but not always) be helpful to determine what each item in the parable represents. But again, this is not a parable it is a description of a literal event.
But the event is significant. So the question should be, “what is the significance of this event”? We must answer that question from Scripture, and in my opinion, it is answered from the immediate context. There are three phrases in the recording of this event which lead me to conclude that the event is a prophecy concerning coming events. Those three phrases are, 1) “for the time of figs was not yet” 2) “no man shall eat fruit of it for the age”, and 3) our Lord’s statement to His disciples, “have faith in God”.
Let us consider the first, “for the time of figs was not yet”. Here we are told that there were leaves on the fig tree, but no fruit. There was no fruit because it wasn’t time for the tree to bear fruit. I believe the significance of this phrase is found in the fact that Christ knew that His earthly ministry was coming to an end, i.e. He knew that within a few days He would be crucified. That crucifixion would of course, have monumental repercussions, one of which was that, despite Israel’s welcoming of Christ as their King the previous day, Christ knew that the millennial reign was not going to be established in the immediate future. I believe that Christ cursed the fig tree as a prophecy to say that just as it was not time for fruit on the fig tree, so too it was not time for the long awaited millennial reign.
Let us consider the second phrase that I believe to be significant, i.e. “no man shall eat fruit of thee hereafter for the age”. What age? That is to say, for how long shall this tree not bear fruit? The answer to that is, in my opinion, up to the age of the millennium. In other words, no man will enjoy millennial blessings until the millennium is established. But because Christ was soon to be crucified, the “fruit” of His earthly ministry would not be enjoyed until it is time, i.e. until His millennial reign.
Now let us consider the third phrase I believe is significant, “Have faith in God”. How does this comment fit into the fact that the tree had been cursed? I believe that it points again to Christ knowing that He would soon be crucified, and that the disciples would need to remember His words, as He lay dead in the grave for three days and three nights.
In short, the cursing of the fig tree was a prophecy that teaches that just as the time of the fig tree to bear fruit was “not yet”, so too the time of the millennial reign was “not yet”. The time of the millennium was “not yet” because despite the fact that the multitudes had welcomed their King into Jerusalem just the day before, Christ knew that He would soon be killed by them. But He wanted His disciples to know that they needed to “have faith in God” until the time of the millennium.
And so too must all believers “have faith in God” until Christ returns, lest they see only a “withered” world, and lose sight of what has been promised. Is that lesson that Mark particularly wanted to draw attention to with a figure of speech worth the use of a figure of speech? I believe it is.
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