The mystery of the never-saddled colt

There’s nothing new here for our Lord. Nothing He hasn’t known for nearly 2,000 years, when He spoke to Jacob — giving Jacob the prophecy of Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday is the moment Jesus enters Jerusalem to massive crowds waving branches from palm trees and placing them as a carpet before Him.

“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” the Jews shout. The words are from Psalm 118—the Messianic Psalm.

But before all of this, as Jesus is nearing Jerusalem, He stops on the Mount of Olives.

“Go into the village opposite you,” Jesus says to two of his disciples, “immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her.” Matthew 21:2

Jesus tells the disciples to bring the pair of animals to Him.

As I said, this is nothing new for Jesus. There are, in fact two prophecies. Roughly 500 years before Palm Sunday, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit had disclosed this moment. This was a commonly known prophecy, one Jews and the Gospel writers knew. Here it is:

“Shout, O Daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you…Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, a foul of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9

In addition to Matthew, two other Gospels writers tell us something more that Jesus says to those disciples: “You will find a colt tied on which no one has sat.” Mark 11:2, Luke 19:30

Once the disciples return with the donkeys, Matthew says the disciples threw their cloaks on both donkeys, and Jesus sat on the cloaks as He rode into Jerusalem. Matthew 21:6-8

But why two?

Was Jesus a heavyset person? Did He need multiple animals to carry His weight? Surely someone in Scripture would have mentioned that.

Even more interesting, why not a second full-sized donkey? Why a colt?

And why such a specific colt? One upon which no one had ever sat. That alone is intriguing—the mystery of the never-saddled colt.

There are countless prophecies in the Old Testament. Those easiest to find are footnoted in our Bibles like Zechariahh 9:9 above.

Take the virgin birth prophesied by Isaiah centuries before it happened. It’s accurate because Father, Son, and Holy Spirit had a plan from the get-go.

Our three-in-one God has always existed—the first words of Scripture say “In the beginning God…” And that Hebrew word for God is plural. Genesis 1:1

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit march across history handing out beautiful gems to prophets as they go until they finally arrive at the moment the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. John 1:1-14

When Jesus quotes Isaiah to those around Him, He’s actually quoting what He said beforehand to Isaiah. Think about it. Pretty cool.

Do we give prophesy the respect it deserves? Consider the opening words of the New Testament: Jesus descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Abraham had many sons by three women. Isaac had two sons. Jacob had 12 sons.

When Moses writes of the genealogy of Jesus, it’s possibly 1,500 years before Christ. Moses couldn’t have known the future on his own. God revealed it to him—prophecy.

Jacob’s prophecy for his 12 sons is utterly amazing, especially the one designating Judah as the royal line:

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah…until he comes to whom it belongs.” Genesis 49:10

These are Jacob’s words about Christ nearly 2,000 years before Christ!

As I said, ancient prophecy is accurate because God is following His own plan. And, as we’re about to see, the donkey and the never-saddled colt are not randomly selected by Jesus for Palm Sunday. They fulfill an ancient prophecy hidden in Scripture.

There’s only one place in the Bible where a donkey and colt are mentioned together other than with regard to the triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

This is so big. Grab hold of something!

It’s no coincidence that when Jacob speaks of Christ to his son Judah, Jacob also speaks of the colt and donkey. Seriously, you’ll get goosebumps when you see this!

“The scepter will not depart from Judah…until he to whom it belongs shall come.” Genesis 49:10 NIV

And the very next line reads:

“He ties his donkey to a vine, and the colt of his donkey to the choice vine.” Genesis 49:11 CSB

That’s why Jesus needed both the donkey and the colt. They fulfill this prophecy: Jesus’ words, Jesus’ plan.

Ok. We see the verses together, but what does this second verse mean? I am going to show you. But at this moment I will give you a summary. Quite simply, it’s the Bible in one line.

I told you it was big!

The donkey and colt upon which Jesus rode are the old and new covenants—essentially the Old Testament and New Testament. Just as the donkey gave birth to the colt, the Old Testament is pregnant with prophecies that come to life in the New Testament.

“He ties his donkey to a vine, and the colt of his donkey to the choice vine.” Gen 49:11 CSB

What is the vine?

God tied the law of the Old Testament to God’s people of the Old Testament, the Jews. But the colt, the new covenant in Christ, is for the choicest of God’s people—for you and me, for the church.

Do you see now why the colt had never been saddled? Is there any other way to salvation but Jesus?

The new covenant comes only with Christ on board!

Religions before and after claim ways to God, but salvation is from Jesus and Him alone.

Let this mystery of the never- saddled colt forever remind you of one thing—the glory inside your Bible.

Scripture is a treasure trove of prophecies.

Enjoy reading God’s words. Explore His plan every day. And prepare to be amazed.

The Rev. R. A. Mathews is a Southern Baptist seminary graduate with a Master of Divinity degree; a respected, nationally-published faith columnist; and the author of “Reaching to God.” She can be reached at [email protected]

Copyright © 2019, 2020 R. A. Mathews


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