The parallel accounts are found at Matthew 21:1-9; Mark 11:1-10, and John 12:12-19. It is recorded by all four evangelists.
The so-called "Travel Account," peculiar to Luke, began at 9:51 where the phrase "to Jerusalem" occurs. This "Travel Account" ends at 19:27. In verse 28 the phrase "to Jerusalem" occurs again.
"Said this" refers to the parable of the pounds, 11-27. "Went on ahead" indicates Jesus' willingness to go, for the last time, to Jerusalem. Arndt says the day of the week may have been a Friday. Luke omits the anointing at Bethany which occurred on the next day, Saturday. Therefore, when we compare this account with the others, there is an omission of one day between verses 28 and 29.
Ylvisaker: The first day of the week, Sunday, the 19th Nisan. This is significant. On this very day, according to Exodus 12:3, the paschal lamb should be selected. And on that day He, the true Paschal Lamb, comes to Jerusalem to suffer and die.
The location of Bethphage is now uncertain. He sent the two disciples with a definite commission. No one knows who the two disciples were.
Arndt: When He had approached a spot between Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, He stopped and sent two disciples to Bethphage.
Incidently, until the time of the destruction of Jerusalem this hill was covered with olive trees. Since that time very few olive trees remain.
Arndt: The animal selected has not yet been defiled, that is, it has not yet been used for unworthy purposes and hence will be a proper mount for the Messiah. See Numbers 19:2, Deuteronomy 21:3, and 1 Samuel 6:7 as passages which help to throw light on this particular feature of the story.
Do verses 30-34 indicate the foreknowledge and providence of Jesus or did things happen by prior arrangement? Lutheran commentators such as Arndt, Lenski, and Ylvisaker take the former view. Morris takes the latter point of view. Marshal is ambivalent, saying "The story thus gives the impression of prescience, but may originally have referred to a normal human arrangement." However, if by prior arrangement, the planning would have had to be quite precise. Furthermore, why wold the owners in verse 33 ask the question if it was by prior arrangement? Finally, in view of the wonders of verses 36-38, surely this was all of God's providence. The real difference lies in the view of the person of Christ, maintained by the Lutheran Confessions and Lutheran commentators. In the state of humiliation Jesus did not always and fully use all the qualities and attributed of the divine nature. But, plainly, on occasion, they are evident. This is one of those occasions. In other words, this was not by prior arrangement.
Whether Jesus was or was not acquainted with this person is quite beside the point. Jesus, the God-man, ruled and overruled this whole situation.
They found things precisely as He had told them. Note a similar report in Matthew 21:6 and Mark 11:6. It was not by prior arrangement but because of the foreknowledge and guidance of the Son of God.
They used the very same words as they had been commanded to use. The same Lord who foresaw and guided all made the two disciples willingly obedient.
The disciples brought the animal to Jesus. They had been told to do so. but there is no record of their being commanded to place their garments on the animal and to mount Jesus on it. Evidently they did the latter two spontaneously, at the prompting, though unexpressed, of the God-man, Jesus.
Lenski suggests that as the animal passed over their garments they picked them up and replaced them ahead of the animal. Could very well be.
All the translations are unanimous in their understanding of the location. NASB: "Near the descent of the Mount of Olives."
Arndt: As He was now nearing the crest from where one descends. . . . For the throng moving westward the south corner of the city would first come into view. When the first glimpse of it was seen, the enthusiasm of the disciples knew no bounds.
The main clause beginning with "the whole crowd" is a remarkable sentence. From the other Gospels we know that there were two groups, one coming out of the city and one with Jesus. Therefore "disciples" must mean more than the twelve disciples.
Arndt: This is one of the most beautiful scenes in the Gospels.
Here it was that the holy enthusiasm of the whole crowd of the disciples began to reach its height.
Ylvisaker: They hail Him as the Messiah, the Son of David, Israel's King. They do this instinctively as though inspirited from above. It is of the Lord.
The cause of their jubilation was "all the miracles which they had seen."
Arndt: The most recent ones like the raising of Lazarus and the healing of the blind man must have been acclaimed with particular frequency and fervor.
All four evangelists have: "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." Luke adding "the King" which is found also in John and the word "kingdom" in Mark. This is quoted from Psalm 118:26. It declares Jesus as Messiah and shows the Father's approval of Him. Bengel suggests that these words fulfill Luke 13:35 but Marshall rightly points out that verse 39 rules that out. The words "In heaven peace and glory in the highest" are found only in Luke and remind us immediately of Luke 2:14. The obvious meaning is: "God and man are reconciled in Christ Jesus and thereby, God, in highest heaven, is glorified."
Where did these Pharisees come from? John 12:19 throws light on this and shows their true attitude. Marshall is surely wrong when he observes: "It is possible that they are to be regarded as friendly to Jesus, as elsewhere in Luke." Verse 39 clearly shows the displeasure of the Pharisees as does John 12:19. By the way, they consider this great throng of people as Jesus' disciples.
The words "I tell you" indicate the divine authority of Jesus. Marshal lists four possible interpretations of these words. Lenski wrongly applies them to the destruction of Jerusalem. The following are suggested for consideration:
Bengel: When power has once gone forth from God, it does not return without accomplishing its purpose.
Arndt: If men should be silent, a stupendous miracle would have to take place, and the very stones about them would have to testify.
Morris: Jesus affirms that the shouting is inevitable.
Ylvisaker: Jesus accepts this homage. He who had withdrawn a year previously at a time when they would make Him king, now wishes to be venerated, although He is well aware of the result. . . . The hour set by the Father has come.
Not to be overlooked in this pericope is the fact that there is a heaven-sent burst of acclamation for this very lowly King in whose person divinity shines through in the entire passage. Truly, His kingship is not of this world.