DThe Entry into Jerusalem

Three features should be noted here. (1) Mark carefully avoids portraying the episode as an overt messianic claim. The Zechariah prophecy is not referred to. The ovation seems to come more from the disciples than the crowd. And the cries of welcome fall short of complete messianic recognition and homage. (2) If the image of Jerusalem's king is deliberately evoked (Zech. 9.9), then the choice of an ass to ride on picks out the one image of humility within the fuller portrayal of Zion's triumphant king.162 (3) It must be significant that the authorities made no move to arrest Jesus as a result of his entry. Nor is any hint given that reference to it was part of the testimony against Jesus at his trial (though the notes on the hearing before Caiaphas are exceedingly brief). Presumably, then, no clear political significance could be or was read into the event. Was this, then, a kind of parable of the claims implicit in Jesus' mission? For those with ears attuned to catch political overtones, there was nothing beyond the boisterous procession of a bunch of pilgrims to be reported. But for those who looked for the coming of God's reign the event carried clear overtones of eschatological import.163

161. See above, §12.4d, and further below, §17.4c.

162. 'Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble ('ani) and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations . . .' (Zech. 9.9-10). 'Ani, of course, evokes the same range of meaning (poverty, affliction, humility) as we observed in §13.4.

163. Others draw stronger conclusions: 'the entry was probably deliberately managed by Jesus to symbolize the coming kingdom and his role in it' (Sanders, Jesus 308); 'a conscious, deliberate demonstration and provocation' (Leivestad, Jesus 140); 'there can be little

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