Most "Harmonies" assume that because each Gospel records an entry of the Lord into Jerusalem the four accounts must be identical because they are similar; and therefore conclude that because they differ in certain particulars there are "discrepancies".
Whereas, if we treat them in their chronological sequences, and have regard to the antecedent and consequent circumstances, the supposed discrepancies will disappear, and the similar, but diverse, expressions will be seen to be necessary to the different events.
In this present case, one entry (Matt. 21:1-9) takes place before the other, which is recorded in Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:30-34, and John 12:12-15.
1. In Matthew the Lord had actually arrived at Bethphage. In Luke He "was come nigh" (engisen); in Mark "they were approaching" (engizousin).
2. In Matthew the village lay just off the road (apenanti); in Luke and Mark it was below them, and opposite (katenanti).
3. In the former, two animals were sent for and used; in the latter, only one.
4. In the former, the prophecy of Zech. 9:9, which required the two animals is said to have been fulfilled; in the latter, the prophecy was not said to be fulfilled, and only so much of it is quoted (John 12:15) as agrees with it.
5. The former seems to have been unexpected, for "all the city was moved, saying, 'Who is this?'" (Matt. 21:10, 11), while, if there was only one entry, the two accounts are inexplicable, seeing that the later and subsequent entry was prepared for : much people in the city "heard that He was coming", and "went forth to meet Him" (John 12:12, 13).
The latter therefore, was the great formal entry of the Lord, called "the Triumphal Entry", which took place on what is called "Palm Sunday".
The significance of the two animals, and the one, seems to be this:--
The first had special reference to the whole work of His mission. He came on the ass with its unbroken colt, the clothes being put some on one and some on the other, and the Lord sitting on "them" -- the clothes (not on both beasts). He came to cleanse the Temple, and make His final presentation of the King and the Kingdom.
But when He came on the one -- an ass's colt -- it was in judgment, to pronounce the doom on the city; and on the nation.
When He appears again it will be to a nation which will then say (as the result of Zech. 12:10); "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Matt. 23:39).
For the events of the "six days before Passover", see Ap. 156; and the
notes on the various passages.