For the disciples, Palm Sunday must have seemed like a dream. After their fears and Jesus’ warnings on the road to Jerusalem, they had arrived to see Jesus received like a victorious Messiah. And though the Pharisees had complained about it, the current of jubilant praise likely carried the men along as they followed Jesus up to the Temple. As they approached the outer court, their conversation would have drowned in the clamor from the Temple’s outer court.
The Court of Gentiles, the only part of the Temple non-Jews could enter, had become an open-air market. A barrage of sights and smells confronted the teacher and his disciples. To see everything—as Mark 11:11 says Jesus did—the group had to push through hordes of customers haggling with merchants, shouting to be heard over the sheep and cattle and doves used for sacrifices. Other pilgrims crowded around moneychangers’ tables, protesting exorbitant fees and usurious rates of exchange for the special Temple currency. And everything was permeated by the pungent mixture of sweat and manure produced by almost fourteen acres of jostling animals and people.
When He had seen enough, Jesus returned to Bethany, where He was staying. He had the whole night to consider what He had experienced, and maybe He did. Whatever He concluded, He headed to Jerusalem the next day on a mission.