Mystery of the never-saddled colt explained

Published 2:45 am Saturday, April 13, 2019

There’s nothing new here for our Lord.

Palm Sunday is the moment Jesus enters Jerusalem to massive crowds waving branches from palm trees and placing them as a carpet before Him. 

“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” the Jews shout. The words are from Psalm 118—the Messianic Psalm.

But before all of this, as Jesus is nearing Jerusalem, He stops on the Mount of Olives.

“Go into the village opposite you,” Jesus says to two of his disciples, “ immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her.” Matthew 21:2

Jesus tells the disciples to bring the pair of animals to Him.

As I said, this is nothing new for Jesus. Over 500 years earlier, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit had planned this moment. Here’s the prophecy:

“Shout, O Daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you…Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, a foul of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9

Two other Gospels tell us something more that Jesus says to those disciples: “You will find a colt tied on which no one has sat.” Mark 11:2, Luke 19:30

Once the disciples return with the donkeys, Matthew says Jesus rides them both into Jerusalem. Matthew 21:6-8

But why two?

Was Jesus a heavyset person, needing multiple animals to carry His weight? Surely someone in Scripture would have mentioned that.

Even more interesting, why not a second full-sized donkey? Why a colt?

And why such a specific colt? One upon which no one had ever sat. That alone is intriguing—the mystery of the never saddled colt.

There are countless prophecies in the Old Testament. Those easiest to find are footnoted in our Bibles. Take the virgin birth prophesied by Isaiah centuries before it happened. It’s accurate because Father, Son, and Holy Spirit had a plan from the get-go.

Our three-in-one God has always existed—the first words of Scripture say “In the beginning God…” And that Hebrew word for God is plural. Genesis 1:1

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit march across history handing out tidbits to prophets as they go until they finally arrive at the moment the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. John 1:1-14

When Jesus quotes Isaiah, He’s actually quoting what He said beforehand to Isaiah. Think about it. Pretty cool.

Do we give prophesy the respect it deserves? Consider the opening words of the New Testament, that Jesus descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Abraham had many sons by three women. Isaac had two sons.  Jacob had 12 sons. When Moses wrote of the genealogy of Jesus, it’s possibly 1,500 years before Christ. Moses couldn’t possibly have known the future on his own.

Jacob’s prophecy for his 12 sons is utterly amazing, especially the one designating Judah as the royal line:

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah…until he comes to whom it belongs.” Genesis 49:10

This is about Christ nearly 2,000 years before Christ!

As I said, ancient prophecy is accurate because God is following His own plan. And, as we’re about to see, the donkey and the never-saddled colt are not randomly selected by Jesus for Palm Sunday.

There’s only one place in Scripture where a donkey and colt are mentioned together other than with regard to the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This is so big. Grab hold of something.

It’s no coincidence that when Jacob speaks of Christ to his son Judah, Jacob also speaks of the colt and donkey. Seriously, you’ll get goosebumps when you see this!

“The scepter will not depart from Judah…until he to whom it belongs shall come.” Genesis 49:10 NIV

“He ties his donkey to a vine, and the colt of his donkey to the choice vine.” Genesis 49:11 CSB

That’s why Jesus needed both the donkey and the colt. They fulfill this prophecy. Jesus’ words, Jesus’ plan.

But what does the verse mean?  Quite simply, it’s the Bible in one line.

I told you it was big!

The donkey and colt upon which Jesus rode are the old and new covenants—essentially the Old Testament and New Testament. Just as the donkey gave birth to the colt, the Old Testament is pregnant with prophecies that come to life in the New Testament.

“He ties his donkey to a vine, and the colt of his donkey to the choice vine.” Gen 49:11 CSB

What is the vine?

God tied the law of the Old Testament to God’s people of the Old Testament, the Jews. But the colt, the new covenant in Christ, is for the choicest of God’s people—for you and me, for the church.

See now why the colt had never been saddled? The new covenant comes only with Christ on board! Religions before and after claim ways to God, but salvation is all about Jesus and Him alone.   

Let this mystery of the never saddled colt forever remind you of one thing—the glory inside your Bible. Scripture is a treasure trove of prophecies.

Enjoy reading God’s words. Explore His plan every day. And prepare to be amazed.

Copyright © 2019 R.A. Mathews  The Rev. R. A. Mathews is a faith columnist and the author of “Reaching to God.” She can be reached at