“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” – Zechariah 9:9 NASB
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem in the days before His crucifixion, He was fulfilling a prophecy given to Zechariah hundreds of years earlier. Through eyes of faith, this prophet saw how a King would come to Jerusalem. Even though a King, He was humble and would be mounted on the “foal of a donkey.”
When the day finally came, “a very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road” in preparation for Jesus’ arrival. They shouted praises, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” and cried “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
This was a major event, for “all the city was stirred.” People wondered what could have caused such an uproar. The crowds announced, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee” (Matthew 21:8-11).
The whole community seemed to join together to praise and honor Jesus. Yet, just a few days later, Jerusalem crowds would cry for His crucifixion. But Jesus was not surprised.
At an earlier Passover celebration, many people said that they believed in Him. But Jesus knew that this belief was shallow and superficial. They may have spoken words of praise, yet their hearts were not totally committed. Faced with new circumstances or pressures, they easily could change. Jesus did not entrust Himself to them, for He “knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25).
Today, many people say that they are Christians but have not made Jesus their Lord. They say they believe but only have a superficial commitment.
How about you? Is Jesus the Lord of your life? Is He your Lord all the time? Praise Him from your heart, and commit your life to Him.
The Triumphal Entry
“This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden’” (vv. 4–5).
Riding on a humble beast of burden is not the way in which most people would expect a king to enter into His reign, but that is exactly how the Lord of glory entered His. Though almost no one could see it at the time, Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday marked the beginning of the final events that would lead to His exaltation (Matt. 21:1–11).
When we say that almost no one could see it at the time, we are not speaking of what the crowd of Passover pilgrims first thought when they saw Jesus approaching Jerusalem on a donkey. The greatest king in their history, after all, often rode through the Holy City and the Promised Land in a similar manner (2 Sam. 13:29; 1 Kings 1:33). Thus, the people who cried “Hosanna to the Son of David!” on Palm Sunday expected a mighty, conquering king, one who would throw off the yoke of their Gentile oppressors just as David had defeated the Philistines centuries earlier.
Yet the people failed to see the true import of the Davidic king riding on a lowly beast of burden. Yes, David was a conquering king, but he defeated his enemies not in his own strength but in the strength of the Lord. Moreover, for all of his military prowess, David could not provide permanent rest to his people. After his death, his son Solomon enjoyed peace for a time, but this golden age came to an end when God brought enemies against Solomon to discipline him for his idolatry (1 Kings 11:9–40).
The true enemies that had to be defeated were not pagan Gentiles but rather sin and death. This could not be done on a white horse and with great armies. Instead, it took humility, a willingness to take the form of a servant and submit to the punishment that God’s people deserve for their sin (Phil. 2:5–11). Only by receiving the worst that sin and death could throw at him could the Davidic king “outsmart” our enemies. In thinking that they were gaining the upper hand, sin, death, and even Satan himself did not see that their actions were ultimately working under the sovereignty of God so that His wrath would be satisfied in the death of His Son. They did not see that by killing Jesus they were actually ensuring their own defeat, for the Son of David whom they murdered was stronger than death itself. Passing through death, He conquered it by rising again. Jesus took the worst that His foes could do and triumphed over it. His humble entry into Jerusalem in fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy anticipated His final conquering act.