In the synoptic gospels, all of the accounts depict Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the back of the colt of a donkey. They make a note that the disciples placed their coats on the donkey (and Matthew's account even says they laid their coats on the mother and the colt). John's account does not mention this specific detail about the donkey(s) but it does include the shared detail with the synoptics that the branches were taken from the trees and laid on the ground.

When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”

The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. - Matthew 21:1-3, 6-8 NASB

As they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ you say, ‘The Lord has need of it’; and immediately he will send it back here.” They went away and found a colt tied at the door, outside in the street; and they untied it. Some of the bystanders were saying to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission. They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it. And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. - Mark 11:1-8

When He approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the mount that is called Olivet, He sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you; there, as you enter, you will find a colt tied on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went away and found it just as He had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord has need of it.” They brought it to Jesus, and they threw their coats on the colt and put Jesus on it. As He was going, they were spreading their coats on the road. - Luke 19:29-36

On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” - John 12:12-13

I understand this event was prophecied in Zechariah 9 also

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. - Zechariah 9:9

which is described in Matthew 21:4-5.

I have several questions.

  1. Why did the disciples place their coats on the donkey(s) and the crowd put theirs on the ground instead of keeping them on?
  2. Is there any reason why some laid their coats on the colt, and others on the ground? (This was partially answered satisfactorily by Mac below)
  3. What was the purpose, in general, for laying coats and palm branches on the ground while Jesus rode into town?
  4. Is there any reason why Matthew says both donkeys were brought to Jesus and had the coats on them?

I find it interesting that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all mention this detail while John does not. I think this could be due to the different audiences they were writing too. This seems odd to me, being a 21st century American, but I'm sure there was some significance to the Jews, both the ones who were visiting Jerusalem for Passover and the ones who lived in the area.

  • Thank you all this was amazing Aug 2, 2023 at 11:21

5 Answers 5


I think this is very simple.

  • The disciples laid their cloaks on the donkey and THEN Jesus sat on the donkey.
  • The crowd laid their cloaks on the ground because Jesus was (by then) sitting on the donkey. In any case, if all the crowd laid their cloaks on the donkey, then Jesus might have been in danger of dying the death of Draco when the adoring crowd threw their hats and cloaks at him and (unfortunately) he suffocated under the pile.

So I think there is a difference between the cloaks of those (relatively few) close to Jesus who provided an honorific saddle by their cloaks and the (relatively many) of the crown who wanted to show respect and honour to Jesus by laying them on the ground.

  • Do you have any citations for this? I’m playing. I like logic and thought out responses +1 Mar 8, 2019 at 2:28

These two items – cloaks and palm branches – carry significance. Spreading garments out for someone to walk on was more than an act of chivalry (i.e., spreading your coat over puddle so a lady does not soil her feet). It is connected with Christ’s Triumphal Entry in that it is a show of deference and honor, but spreading garments out before someone was an act of submission paid to royalty.

The only other time this is done in Scripture (that I could find) is in 2 Kings 9:13 – “Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him on the bare steps, and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, ‘Jehu is king.’” And, while we initially think of Jehu as a particularly violent king, we dare not miss that it was he who destroyed Jezebel – the wife of Ahab who led Israel astray and tried to kill Elijah. Was not Christ riding into Jerusalem to do the same?


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    – agarza
    Jun 29, 2022 at 0:35

I am no theologian. I agree Zec. 9:9 is why he came into town on an ass as king.

But he was also about to be sacrificed. This paints a Picture of a son on a donkey. Kinda reminds me of Genesis 22:3….

Jesus is going to the same place Abraham carried his son Isaac to be sacrificed.

There is a difference between loading a donkey and saddling a donkey…. You saddle to ride….. I simply believe like Abraham the disciples wanted to make the Son comfortable as he prepared to enter the promise.

The people who laid down there garment wanted to be apart of the coronation….

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    Oct 27, 2022 at 15:35


The placing of the garments and branches on the ground signifies those who lose their lives to save it.

They “put off” the garment of the former behavior of the old man by divesting themselves of the envy and strife and hatred so that they may put on the Christ (righteousness) who comes to clothe us with the garments of salvation. In order to enter into the joy of what we hear, we must lose our own thoughts and ways for His thoughts and ways.

John 12:25-26 KJV (25) He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

A donkey is a servant….and we must be found serving Him when He comes to give us an understanding by the opening up of the Scriptures. We serve Him by remembering to let brotherly love continue when we may hear a “stranger” speaking His words of life and spirit. The Father will also honor those who follow Him. We shall also appear with Him in glory.

(26) If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

The first fruits will be found bearing fruit of righteousness at the hearing of His voice. They will not appear before Him “empty” with unrighteousness. The firstling of a donkey (those who first trust in Christ…serving Him) shall be redeemed with a lamb….the Lamb.

Exodus 34:20 KJV (20) But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.

He comes to give us an understanding by the opening up of the Scriptures. If we have heard Him and have been taught by Him, we are to be found of Him putting off the “garments” of the old man who is corrupt according to his lusts: the contentions at what he hears, the envy, the strife, etc.

Ephesians 4:21-22 KJV (21) If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: (22) That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

They spread their garments (the behavior of the old man) on the ground as they put the old man off. The behavior of the old man dies in order to bring forth much fruit (fruit of righteousness) towards the hearing of His voice as He gives us an understanding. Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

John 12:23-25 KJV (23) *And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. (24) Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (25) He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

The “branches” signify the tongue that is deadened to sin as we are to lay aside all malice and all guile, hypocrisies, envies, evil speaking, etc.* We deaden the tongue that is upon the earth.

1 Peter 2:1-3 KJV (1) Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, (2) As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (3) If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

The triumphal entry where they put “branches” upon the ground. We shall appear with Him in glory by deadening our tongues (members) ….the branches….which are upon the earth: the fornication, the uncleanness, etc.

Colossians 3:2-10 KJV (2) Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (3) For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. (4) When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (5) Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: (6) For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: (7) In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.*

We are to put the branches down upon the ground by putting all evil out of our mouths and divest of the “old man” and his evil deeds by putting the old man’s garments off.

(8) But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. (9) Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; (10) And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:*

The “flesh and blood” acting man (the fleshly man) will not inherit the kingdom of God. He must put off the old man.

1 Corinthians 15:50 KJV (50) Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

He must put off the old man who is mortal and corruptible and put on Christ who is immortal an incorruptible.

1 Corinthians 15:53-54 KJV (53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (54) So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

By doing these things...serving Him as His servants, the Lord will serve us with the meat of the Word of Truth.

Luke 12:35-37 KJV (35) Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; (36) And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. (37) Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

  • This sounds like something out of a medieval commentary, with all the symbolism. You say "They "put off" the garment of the former behavior" but you do understand that most of the people in this crowd would later shout "Crucify him!"? Clearly they were not disciples of Jesus. I don't think the author's would consider the general theme of their actions in a Christian mindset. Rather, they (the crowd) were more likely expecting a king to remove them from Roman rule. I am looking to understand better what the people in the crowd and the 12 would have been thinking.
    – WnGatRC456
    Feb 14, 2019 at 12:30

I think the comments. Are excellent. The problem is those who read literally. So often the word seems foolish and unbelievable to many for many reasons. God is about revelation and he reveals things that are hidden in plain sight to others. What we need is a unction from God on his word. No matter what your opined position is on this. Is it inspired of the Holy Ghost? I think we should be wise and opened to others unctions from God. We should ask one question is the preacher, writer for Christ or against Christ. Clearly the narrative declares the writers research of symbolism and other things. Keep on preaching I love it.

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    May 17, 2021 at 21:04

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