I always have way too many questions. I’m always wondering why, what does it mean, what is the purpose of this story, and what does the Lord want me to learn from it? That’s the case with the verse in Matthew 21:6-7, “The disciples went and did just as Yeshua had instructed them, and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their cloaks on them; and He sat on the cloaks. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road.” There is lots written about the branches, the prophetic fulfillment of Yeshua riding the colt and the donkey, but what about the cloaks? What is the deal with the cloaks on the animals and on the road?
First let’s talk about the cloak. It was an exterior tunic, wide and long, reaching to the ankles, but without sleeves. The word is rendered as “robe” or “mantle” elsewhere in the scriptures. It was even worn by the high priest under the ephod (Exodus 28:31), by kings and others of rank (1 Samuel 15:27), and by women (2 Samuel 13:18).
The importance of the cloak is established in Exodus 22:26-27, “If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.” This cloak was an essential part of a person. In this verse the cloak is given in pledge, as a promise that a person would fulfill their word but, even in this instance the cloak must be returned to him by nightfall. In Deuteronomy 24:10-13 we see this concept outlined as it says, “When you make your neighbor a loan of any sort, you shall not go into his house to collect his pledge. You shall stand outside, and the man to whom who make the loan shall bring the pledge out to you. And if he is a poor man, you shall not sleep in his pledge. You shall restore to him the pledge as the sun sets, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you. And it shall be righteousness for you before the Lord your God.” In the IVP Bible Background Commentary by Walton, Matthews and Chavalsas the commentary for the verses in Exodus contain some interesting information. The commentary states that, “Day laborers regularly pledged their garment as collateral against a full day’s work. In many cases it was their only extra covering besides their loin-cloth. If it were not returned to them, they would have to give up their free status and sell themselves as slaves. A late seventh century B.C., Hebrew inscription from Yavneh-Yam contains a plea by a field worker that his garment had been unjustly taken. He asks that his rights and his free status be returned to him along with the robe.” As I read this inscription from the commentary, I thought about the people lining the road as Yeshua entered Jerusalem. They were anticipating a conquering king not a suffering Messiah, and they were ecstatic as they saw prophecy unfolding before them and their deliverance riding into Jerusalem. They responded to the event hoping that this would bring the deliverance that they were waiting for. The joy at the thought of freedom propelled them to act in a way that was meaningful to them. The disciples and the people took their cloaks off because they knew what it meant to do so:
- Surrender – The laying down of their cloaks meant that they were surrendering their cloak to Yeshua, and were now bond servants (love servants). The cloak was given up in exchange (collateral) for the messianic promise that Yeshua offered. We are no different than those that lined the streets in Jerusalem and the field worker. In 1 Corinthians 7:22 it describes our condition, “For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 7:22
- Recognizing Yeshua as King – The crowd recognized him as king and therefore treated him as their king. In 2 Kings 9:13 we see an example of how a group of men reacted to a newly anointed king. Jehu was anointed as king by Elisha’s servant and given a mandate to destroy Ahab’s household. This verse describes the scene, “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.” The cloak shows the submission to the authority of the king and the recognition that he is the king.
As Yeshua entered Jerusalem before Passover and the crowds of people responded to Him in this way, let us respond to Yeshua in this same way. Instead of focusing on getting everything perfect for our seder let us focus on surrendering in love to our Lord. Let us celebrate our freedom in Him that He has bought at a price. Let us joyfully reach out to Him as those crowds reached out to Yeshua in those streets. Let us lay our cloaks down at His feet and place Him on His throne.
May you and your family have a meaningful Passover season!