21:01 When they were near Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,
21:02 saying to them, 'Go to the village facing you, and you will at once find a tethered donkey and a colt with her.  Untie them and bring them to me.
21:03 If anyone says anything to you, you are to say, "The Master needs them and will send them back at once." '
21:04 This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet:
21:05 ‘Say to the daughter of Zion: Look, your king is approaching, humble and riding on a donkey and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’
21:06 So the disciples went and did as Jesus had told them.
21:07 They brought the donkey and the colt, then they laid their cloaks on their backs and he took his seat on them.
21:08 Great crowds of people spread their cloaks on the road, while others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in his path.
21:09 The crowds who went in front of him and those who followed were all shouting: Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heavens!
21:10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil as people asked, 'Who is this?'
21:11 and the crowds answered, 'This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee'.

Context & Information
In his very first line Matthew promises to write about Jesus Messiah (= Christ: 1:1). According to the prophet Isaiah the Messiah would travel to Jerusalem to found God’s Kingship there in the name of God himself (Isaiah 40:9-10; 52:7). In the forgoing chapters we heard how Jesus was recognised as the Messiah by his disciples (16,16) and how he was travelling indeed to Judaea (19:1). This journey will find its climax with the entering into Jerusalem. This is the moment: the Messiah is entering into Jerusalem to found God’s Kingship there.
Jesus himself is organising the solemn liturgy by ordering a donkey. The prophet Zechariah has announced (9:9),  ‘Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion! Shout for joy, daughter of Jerusalem! Look, your king is approaching, he is vindicated and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ That was the way David’s son Solomon had been inaugurated as king: riding on a donkey (1 Kings 1:33-40). That is exactly what Jesus’ followers are shouting, ‘Hosanna, to the son of David!’ Isaiah’s prophecy fulfilled.

Here Matthew could have ended his Gospel. But he doesn’t. Apparently there is something more to tell. We hear that in the liturgy: the Passion Story. The Kingship of God will find its completion when Jesus is recognised as the king not only by his disciples, but also by his opponents, and even by the mightiest authority of that moment, the Roman Empire. That moment will be there on the cross, when above Jesus’ head will be written: ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews’ (27,37). Whoever would have thought that Isaiah’s prophecies about the founding of God’s Kingship had to be realised this way?

Picture Meditation

Jerusalem is in the centre of the painting. A beautiful circular city with walls, watching towers and soldier guardians. With curved streets. Can I imagine that I should live in one of these houses? What would that mean to me?

The story starts top left: two disciples bring a donkey to Jesus, in red. Next Jesus makes a tour around the city. We see him again top right riding on his donkey. People are spreading their clothes before him.

We see him again bottom right. Now people are waving palm branches. Other people are peeping at him over the edge of the wall. Peter with a beard and round cut hair, clothed in orange, is always in his neighbourhood.

We see Jesus for the fourth time just before he enters into the gate of Jerusalem.

And we see him for the fifth time in the centre of the city, before the steps of the temple where the high priest (pictured as a cardinal) is looking at all this. In his neighbourhood two other high placed priests, with cardinal hats.

I look at Jesus. This moment, what must all this have meant for him?
I look at all these people shouting, ‘Hosanna!’ which means, ‘Please, hear us!’ They want to be heard. Am I one of them? Is there a special person with whom I should like to identify?

Can I identify with the high priests or one of his colleagues?

I finish my contemplation by having a dialogue with one of the pictured persons in the crowd, with one of the priests, with Peter, with Jesus...

- Meditation by Fr Dries van den Akker S.J