How is Someone Saved? A Brief Lecture on the Order of Salvation
But just what does this mean that he is "just" and having salvation...riding on a donkey"? I believe there is something much more happening here than what has traditionally been assumed. If we compare carefully Genesis 22, we find that Abraham took “two men”, saddled up his donkey, and rode with his son Isaac to Mount Moriah–the very place where the temple would later be built. The donkey and the two men are then left behind as Isaac is taken to the Mount and placed on the altar. Abraham's firstborn son Isaac is mercifully spared due to the substitution of the sacrificial ram. Something similar occurs again when Moses rode into Egypt setting his sons on a donkey and riding to the place of the execution of the firstborn while Israel is spared by the blood of the Passover lamb. Both accounts foreshadowed Christ's substitutionary atonement for us, and the donkey was the means of transport.
Now all of this comports with Exodus 13 in the law of the firstborn in the close identification of donkeys and firstborn male sons. The firstborn clean animals could not be redeemed, but a specific unclean animal is mentioned that could be redeemed, namely, a donkey. In the very next breath, the Lord says that along with the donkey, their firstborn sons could also be redeemed. With what? A lamb without spot. This was designed to teach Israel that their righteousness was like that of an unclean donkey (unclean garments), and that they needed redemption.
In Mark 11, Jesus sends "two disciples" to unleash this donkey. The donkey is said to be unbacked and young, as John records, most likely indicating that it was a redeemed donkey according to the law of the firstborn. The disciples then cast their garments “upon” the donkey to illustrate exactly what Exodus 13 taught in the law of the firstborn, namely, that they as sinners identify with the uncleanness of the donkey, and are in need of redemption by a lamb with out spot. Christ is then “set” on this donkey (see Matthew and Luke), a graphic presentation of the true Lamb of God presented who takes away the sin of the world. Christ then rides as the pure Lamb, the only begotten son of God, with the goal of ascending the temple mount (keep in mind as he enters Jerusalem, Josephus records there were 256, 500 lambs brought in for the Passover celebration).
The crowds before and behind him sing Psalm 118, the Egyptian Hallel, celebrating God's deliverance of the Jews from Egypt with the blood of the lamb. Here Christ is being presented before God as the worthy Lamb who with clean hands and a pure heart is able to ascend Zion's Holy Hill for sinners (Ps 24). Christ then enters the temple “alone” and looks around; soon he will be sacrificed and fulfill everything that temple represented. Through the blood of the Lamb, those who look to him for new garments, renouncing their own garments as pictured in Mark 11, these will be given access to the Most Holy Place through the pure Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Therefore, what we call the triumphal entry is really a grand sort of parable of the salvation of Christ meriting for sinners all that they need to have access into the Holy Place.
These are just some Monday thoughts after preaching Mark 11. I always felt something crucial was missing in the traditional explanation of the donkey, it never went far enough in explaining just what it means that Christ is riding on a donkey having salvation. CJG