On the next day, that is, the day following the time Jesus spent teaching the people at Bethany (John 12:12 cp. Mark 11:12), many people in Jerusalem heard he was coming. How did they hear that he was coming? John 12:17-18 reveals that a company of people, who had been with Jesus the day before (John 12:9-11), went before him to Jerusalem and told of his coming and that he had raised Lazarus from the dead! It must be kept in mind that during the first entry, the entire city was moved (Matthew 21:10) and wondered who Jesus was, and the disciples had to tell them (Matthew 21:11). The second entry was far different from the first. The whole city went forth to meet him (John 12:12-13), prompting the Pharisees to say in fear that the whole world is gone after him (John 12:19). This entry, not the first described in Matthew 21, is the so-called Triumphant Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. There can be no doubt that there was more than one entry into Jerusalem described in these Scriptures.
Concerning his first entry into Jerusalem, notice in Luke 19:1. Jesus entered and passed through Jericho and then spent the night at the home of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:5-7). After teaching the people (Luke 19:11-28), Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem (cp. Mark 10:46 with Mark 11:1; and Matthew 20:29 with 21:1). The point is that for his first entry into Jerusalem, Jesus came from Jericho. For his second entry, he came from Bethany. During his first entry, the people in Jerusalem were not only surprised at his coming, but didn’t even know who he was (Matthew 21:10-11). For his second and triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the whole city came out to meet him (John 12:12-19). Finally, his first entry occurred before he cursed the fig tree (Matthew 21:10-19), while his second occurred on the same day that he cursed the fig tree (Mark 11:11-15).
Three More Days
The first entry occurred six days before the Passover Feast Day. The Weekly Sabbath occurred five days prior to the Passover Feast Day. The Triumphant Entry occurred on the first day of the week (Palm Sunday), four days before the Holy Day Sabbath.
With three days left, Jesus made a third entry into Jerusalem and the Temple. This was on the day after he cursed the fig tree (Mark 11:14-15, 19-20, 27). During this day his authority was challenged by the chief priests and scribes (Luke 20:1-2). Their very activity and words seem to express their anger and fear. Jesus had cleansed the Temple a third time. They had to be beside themselves. Notice that upon his third entry, Jesus wept over the city (Luke 19:41). Why would Jesus weep over the city at this time? He says that the people did not know the time of their visitation and now it would be hid from their eyes and judgment would fall upon them (Luke 19:42-44). This didn’t occur during his first entry in Matthew. There the people were ignorant as to who Jesus was. Jesus educated them, casting out their ignorance. He didn’t punish them, neither could this have occurred before the second entry in Mark and John, for the whole city came out to meet him. Why would Jesus mourn at that scene? This has to be a completely different entry. No mention is made of the people coming to meet Jesus. This is the cause of his weeping. They, like the chief priests and Pharisees, had rejected Him (John 12:37). Yet, upon entering the city, Jesus again cleansed the Temple (Luke 19:41, 45-48).
Two days before the Feast of Unleavened Bread, he had a supper with Simon the leper at Bethany (Mark 14:1-3). Whether or not he went to Jerusalem is not recorded, but if Matthew 23:37–24:1 is taken into account, he most likely would not. This is because the chief priests and Pharisees were so angry with him after he confronted them in Matthew 23 that they would have taken him into custody at once. So probably they didn’t know where he was. Jesus knew he should not die until Nisan 14, the day the Passover Lamb was killed. All things had to be fulfilled exactly as the Scriptures say, and Jesus, not the chief priests and Pharisees, was in control.
Finally, the Preparation Day came, or the first day before the Feast of Unleavened Bread, that is, the day the Passover Lamb was to be killed. The evening portion was spent with his disciples at what we call The Last Supper. Then he went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, was betrayed by Judas, abandoned by his friends and taken to the high priest. There he was condemned to die and later handed over to Pilate for execution by crucifixion. All this occurred on Nisan 14. Jesus died in the evening (late afternoon) just as the Passover lamb was being slain.
To sum up what we have concluded so far, six days before the Feast Day (Nisan 9) Jesus entered Jerusalem from Jericho and spent at least the night in Bethany (Nisan 10 – Luke 19:1, 11, 28; Matthew 21:10-17; John 12:1-2). Later, he entered Jerusalem from Bethany and cursed the fig tree on the way (Nisan 11 – Mark 11:12-19). The following day he entered Jerusalem a third time and the disciples noted the withered fig tree (Nisan 12 – Mark 11:20, 27). He spent the next day at Simon the leper’s home (Nisan 13 – Mark 14:1-3).
On the following day, just after the sunset of Nisan 13, Jesus made what we call the New Covenant with his apostles and taught some final things at what we call The Last Supper. Later, he is taken by the chief priests, condemned and handed over to Pilate for crucifixion. This was on Nisan 14, the day the Passover lamb is slain.