Matthew 21:1-17 records Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem just before he was crucified. We need to take a close look at what Matthew says. Verses 1-9 record that Jesus approached Jerusalem from Jericho (Matthew 20:29), and He sent two disciples into a nearby village, Bethany (Mark 11:1; Luke 19:29) to find an ass and her colt, upon whom no man had ever sat, and bring them to him. Their use had probably been prearranged with their owner just after Christ raised up Lazarus.
Next, Christ sat on the colt and the small crowd of disciples went before and behind Him laying their clothes and palm branches in his path and crying out: “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord.” The entire city was moved (v.10) and wondered who Jesus was, and the disciples had to tell them (v.11). Jesus entered the Temple area and cast out those who bought and sold (v.12), declaring that they had defiled the House of God, which should have been a House of Prayer (v.13). Afterward, he healed the blind and the lame (v.14), and apparently the disciples continued to chant “hosanna” to him, because (v.15) the chief priests were displeased and told Jesus so, though they witnessed his miracles (v.16). Jesus, however, told them that praise is perfected in the hearts of babes. He then left for Bethany (v.17). Upon his return to Jerusalem (Matthew 21:18), Jesus was hungry and desired fruit from a fig tree. When he found none on the tree, he cursed it and soon it withered and died (v.19).
Mark’s account is found in chapter eleven. Verses 1-10 are pretty much the same as Matthew 21:1-9. The minor differences such as two animals in Matthew and only one recorded by the other Gospel accounts only serve to magnify the whole account. Two animals were used, but Jesus sat only on the colt, which was the only one needed to fulfill the Scriptures. Mark 11:11 summarizes all of Matthew 21:10-17.
Mark details Jesus second entry into Jerusalem (Mark 11:12-18). Coming from Bethany (not Jericho as in Matthew), he is hungry (v.12) and came to a fig tree (v.13), but he cursed it because it was barren (v.14 – see also Matthew 21:18-19). In Mark 11:15 Jesus again entered the Temple and cleansed it a second time, from the activity of those who defiled it, and would not even permit anyone carrying merchandise to travel through the Temple area (v.16-17). He taught in the Temple all day (v.16) and the chief priests and scribes wanted to kill him, but they feared to do so, because the people were astonished at his doctrine (v.18).
Here are recorded two different entries. The first came from Jericho, but the second came from Bethany. The first came before the cursing of the fig tree, while the second came after the cursing of the fig tree. To get the full picture of what was going on we have to read John’s record in chapter twelve. In verses 1-2 we find Jesus already at Bethany indicating that the first entry had taken place. The clause “six days before the Passover” is speaking of the Sabbath or Feast of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15 in the Jewish calendar). This is an eight day festival occurring in the spring and often called the Passover inclusively (cp. Luke 22:1). In Matthew 21:17 we are told that Jesus went from Jerusalem to Bethany and lodged there. In John 12:1 we are told Jesus not only came to Bethany but specifically to the home of Lazarus to lodge. The entire period from the taking of the asses before going to Jerusalem to his exit to Bethany for the purpose of enjoying the fellowship of his friend Lazarus occurred on the sixth day before the Passover Feast Day. If Jesus ate the supper after sunset then the entire suppertime and the next day was the Sabbath (i.e. the 7th day Sabbath, not the Passover Feast Day). Jesus did not return to Jerusalem until Sunday morning. He spent the entire Sabbath at Bethany with Lazarus, and He taught the people there. Many people came to see Jesus and Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead just a few weeks earlier (John 12:9). Moreover, because many were coming to believe in Jesus, the chief priests consulted with one another as to how they could kill both Lazarus and Jesus (cp. John 12:10-11; with Luke 19:47-48 and Mark 11:18). The people who came to see Jesus and Lazarus had to have come the day following the evening meal, because too much is occurring in these few verses to occur in a single evening. Therefore, there must have been another day between these two entries into Jerusalem and the Temple. This will become clearer as the whole week is laid out and everything is defined. Suffice to say at this time that it was eventide when He left for Bethany (Mark 11:11). All of what happened in John 12:1-11 could not have happened in a single night This can and will be proved beyond all reasonable doubt, as we go through the entire week.
To summarize, Jesus’ first entry was six days before Passover Sabbath, on Friday in the week before his death. He spent the fifth day before Passover in Bethany, resting to celebrate the 7th day Sabbath. On the first day of the week (our Sunday), Jesus entered Jerusalem for the second time in three days. This is known as his Triumphant Entry. The third entry is recorded in Luke 19, and I’ll speak of it in my next post.
 Bethphage is also mentioned in these Scriptures and it is the only place mentioned in Matthew 21:1. According to some Bible scholars, Bethphage is an Aramaic word meaning ‘house of figs,’ but according to Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Bethphage is Aramaic for ‘house of unripe figs.’ If the latter is true then Bethphage is not a village at all, but a place on Mt. Olivet, like the garden of Gethsemane. It is probably the site of Christ’s cursing the barren fig tree as he approached Jerusalem (Matthew 21:19; Mark 11:13-14).
 Christ knew who would betray him (John 6:64; 13:11). The chief priests and Pharisees were looking to kill Jesus quietly so the people would not rise up against them (Matthew 26:5; John 11:47-57). Care had to be taken and Jesus was always in control of the events that preceded his death. Nothing was done that he did not arrange or knew what the outcome would be. Jesus could have foreseen the animals and their owner, but this does not have to be so. It is more likely that he had prearranged the use of the animals the last time he was in Bethany.