The subject event was a profound statement by Jesus and can be added to the list of authentic sayings of, or events surrounding, Jesus. Craig writes:
In every other account of Jesus’ movements, he goes by foot. What, then, is he doing when he mounts a donkey’s colt and rides down the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem? The answer is that Jesus is deliberately fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9-10…
Jesus is deliberately and provocatively claiming to be the promised king of Israel who will inaugurate his reign of peace. His action is like a living parable, acted out to disclose his true identity.1
This event is multiply attested by Mark and John (Mark 11:1-11; John 12:12-19). Additionally, the historicity of the event is bolstered by the dissimilarity criterion (the event or saying is unlike antecedent Jewish thought-forms2) as the account of the event in Mark is not accompanied by a citation of Zechariah 9:9.
Some object to the historicity of this account on the basis that the Roman authorities would have arrested Jesus as a result of such a display. However, Mark records that Jesus entered the city, looked around in the temple, and then left. Such an entry may not have even been noticed by the Roman authorities; especially with the Passover crowds. Even if they did notice they would not have understood the significance or viewed a man riding slowly into town on a donkey as a threat.
This series, identifying authentic sayings of, or events surrounding Jesus, will continue again next week.
Stand firm in Christ,
1. Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics; Third Edition. Page 304.
2. Ibid. Page 298.