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Good question, Child of the Almighty King. I too often wondered about that every time I read thrugh the Bible. It is even listed as a Bible "error" on my favorite web site which solves APPARENT Bible fallacies. Notice I said APPARENT because there ARE NO Bible fallacies. Here's their answer: Once the disciples placed their garments on the donkeys, Jesus sat on them, that is, on their garments. [not on both animals]. --https://www.defendinginerrancy.com/bible-solutions/Matthew_21.2_(cf._Mark_11.2;_Luke_19.30).php
The typical arrangement for travel was for the back of the 'adult' donkey to be the place where the rider would sit with the foal tied off to the adult and carrying the rider's belongings behind them. This not only kept the sitting area free from clutter, but helped to 'train' the young foal to accept weight and eventually receive human riders. The description was of the foal being loaded first with the disciples' tunics until it could take no more, so the extra tunics had to be placed on the adult donkey with the Lord sitting on top of them. This would have elevated Him significantly which would have made Him more visible than usual as He passed through the crowds. This had two effects, apparently. One was to allow everyone to notice Him and recognize Him quickly, but the other was to inspire them to remove their own tunics and lay them out on the ground to honor Him. Those who had no tunics even cut down palm branches and waved them or laid them down also beside the tunics. This was obviously arranged by the Holy Spirit to demonstrate the Lord's humility, (a king would typically ride on a steed, not a lowly pack animal), but it also allowed His praises to be publicly sung by the same people to whom He had come as Messiah and for whom He had done so many great wonders and miracles. It also reinforced that His first coming was the beginning of the 'long journey' He had often spoken about and described in parables, (Luke 20:9), not the triumphant moment of future victory represented by His return as 'King of all kings and Lord of all lords' when He will be arriving on a 'White Steed,' (Revelation 19:11). Whether this 'white horse' is literal or refers to a divine technology beyond current human comprehension, it will certainly be quite different from this simple and humble scene marking the end of Christ's earthly ministry and the beginning of His great work of redemption and resurrection on our behalf. In case you are wondering why the scripture seems to be implying that Jesus was 'sitting on both' animals, it is because animals 'tied together' were treated as a 'team' and often described the way we describe a 'vehicle.' Whether we sit in the front or the back, it's the same 'vehicle' we are sitting in. People would have described it the same way, even if twelve different donkeys were involved and were all tied together. Jesus was 'sitting on them.'
In 2 Samuel, chapter 16, verses 1 and 2, we read about King David and meeting with Ziba (servant to Mephiboseth) who had a couple of saddled donkeys with him. Donkeys were used for the transportation of kings and princes. The verse in Matthew 21:5 is the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9. Zechariah 9:9: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your Kind is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly, and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey." I think that the colt, foal, is the donkey, that Jesus was riding on. They laid their clothes on both the mother and the baby. This gave Jesus His choice. I think that the choice of the foal has a symbolic meaning. He could not sit on both at the same time. We cannot serve man and God at the same time. We must choose. We choose our old life or our new life. Just my opinion.
The scriptures in question have no ambiguity whatsoever. Jesus sends two of his disciples to the town before them to get two donkeys for him to use to ride into Jerusalem. I have a question: why does he need both donkeys? He can only ride one... he tells his disciples to bring the donkey and her colt. It's easily understood that he rode the colt; it reads, "They brought the donkey and her colt to him and placed their cloaks and prayer shawls on the colt, and Jesus rode on it" (Mt 21:7). I don't think Jesus wanted to take the colt from its mother, so he brought them both. Why did he ride the colt instead of the other donkey? It is because he was to ride an animal that had never been ridden; he was to be the first to ride this beast of burden. (Had Jesus ever ridden an animal before this? If he had I missed it). Jesus came to us as a baby, born (by way of) of a virgin girl. I think this narrative, besides being the fulfillment of prophecy, is also a continuation of how he is to be known and remembered: he's unbelievably awesome and unbelievably humble! Jesus wasn't born to the Queen of Sheba, or some other woman of high notoriety. His mother's fiancee was a carpenter; his mom was discovered to be expecting a baby before she and her fiancee Joseph had ever come together. (So the logical question is, 'What in Heaven is going on here?') There will always be questions about his birth! It's that way on purpose! Jesus is the 'only begotten Son of God.' WOW! Born to a mother who nobody knew anything about until she bore this child! (Even John the Baptist's father had a higher position as priest than Joseph the carpenter). Elizabeth Baptist, John's mother, didn't have any children before she gave birth to John, but she wasn't a virgin. She was simply barren until God was ready for her to give birth to John. John was born to a couple who'd given up on having children. Jesus was born to a couple who hadn't even started. (Mary had never "sat under the apple tree" with anybody, including Joseph). Now in the narrative in question, Jesus is getting ready to be brought even lower than ever. He's getting ready to be crucified. He doesn't arrive in Jerusalem riding a steed, he goes in on a donkey's colt. It reminds me of Abigail. The story of Abigail running interference for her husband Nabal when David was bound to kill him and their whole clan, including Abigail, comes to mind when I read this. Her husband had totally dissed David; David vowed to kill his whole camp. (1 Sam 25:22) Abigail was the wife of a very rich man. (David was slated to be the next king, but he hadn't been crowned yet.) When she went to meet David she rode a donkey instead of a horse; did her rich husband not have plenty of fine horses? Why would she ride a donkey? I believe it to be a picture of a deliberate act of humility; I think she deliberately lowered herself in David's eyes to try and gain a measure of empathy. What made her react the way she did when she was told what her husband had done? Nabal wasn't afraid of how David would react to him, so why was she? Nabal was a fool. (the name 'Nabal' means 'fool' in some language. I don't believe his parents named him 'fool,' I believe he earned it and it stuck. It's like the way we call Ervin Johnson 'Magic Johnson.' He earned it with the way he played basketball, and it stuck..) Listen to Abigail's petition to David: she fell at his feet and said, "Upon me, my lord, upon me be the iniquity..." She begs David to 'regard not her worthless husband because he's a fool.' She tells him she didn't see his men when they came and asked Nabal for provisions. She's interceeding for her family; David could have been too angry to listen... she took a chance. Her humble act of intercession (while riding a donkey) comes to mind when I read this. I'm sure Jesus could have gone into Jerusalem riding in a chariot of fire, driven by the prophet Elijah if he had wanted it that way!
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