“Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your King comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9
By the time what we celebrate as Palm Sunday arrived in Jerusalem, around 33 A.D., Jesus of Nazareth was a marked man. This made His entrance into the city even more dramatic, because He openly and publicly came to a place where He knew He was a wanted man. On the back of a donkey, Jesus took what some might consider His first step towards the ultimate and final confrontation with the Sanhedrin.
When I say Jesus entered publicly, I don’t just mean out in the open. His entrance was during the Feast of Passover – a time when the population of Jerusalem swelled enormously. The crowds were gathered, many hailing Jesus as the King of Israel (John 12:13). It is obvious that the Jews suspected Jesus was the answer to their prayers for a king to free them from the rule of the Roman Emperor. After all, God had promised them long ago a king from the line of David who would rule them forever…and Jesus fit the bill. Finally they would be liberated. Finally there would be peace. It is no wonder they shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” as Jesus entered Jerusalem – the city whose name literally means, “City of peace.” How hopeful they must have been!
But then, something odd happened. Did their heroic King arrive riding majestically on a stallion or some other symbol of power? Surely that is what they were expecting. That is how the Roman soldiers got around, so shouldn’t their King be the same? No. That is not how King Jesus arrived. Instead, He rode into Jerusalem on a young donkey, completely messing up the picture they must have had of their mighty King.
Jesus’ entrance was no mistake, though. He demonstrated two truths when He arrived on that donkey. First, He fulfilled one of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah found in Zechariah 9:9, which foretold that Israel’s promised King would arrive in exactly that way – riding on a young donkey. But why a donkey and not a stallion? The answer is found in the second truth that Jesus demonstrated – that He came in peace, not judgment. He came not to conquer by force, as other earthly kings, but by grace, mercy, and the sacrifice of His own life for His people.
The Kingdom that Jesus established was not one of armies and splendor, but of lowliness and servanthood. He came to conquer sin, not nations. As His followers, we should exhibit those same qualities…humility, servanthood, sacrifice, and grace. When we do, the world will see the only True King living and reigning through His people.
Dear Father, help me to follow Your example in the way I live so that others will see Your Kingdom through me. In Jesus' name, amen.