More than five hundred years before Christ was born the prophet Zechariah wrote about the triumphant, yet humble entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. "Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—riding on a donkey's colt." (Zechariah 9:9 - NLT) This description of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem should have helped the Pharisees see what was happening. However, their own agenda made them blind to the truth. They watched the Son of God ride into Jerusalem to shouts and songs of praise. They knew this was the man who had raised Lazarus from the dead and performed many miracles. Yet, they plotted to destroy Jesus, because they saw him as a threat to their religious order.
The Pharisees were not the only ones who were blind. Jesus' own disciples lacked understanding of what was happening before their eyes. John writes, "His disciples didn't understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into His glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about Him." (John 12:16 - NLT) After spending three years with Jesus, one would think that they would have realized the prophetic fulfillment that was happening. Perhaps they were caught up in the excitement of the crowd.
Many people had traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover as this was one of the "pilgrim" feasts. The crowd missed what Jesus was telling them by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey's colt. They were looking for the Messiah, one who would overthrow the Romans who oppressed them. They threw their prayer shawls and cloaks on the ground along with cut palm branches. They shouted "Hosanna!" which means "O save or bring the victory, Lord." This repeated call came directly from Psalm 118:25-26. "O God, please come and save us again; bring us your breakthrough victory! Blessed is this one who comes to us, the sent one of the Lord. And from within the temple we cry, 'We bless you!'" (TPT) Palm branches were a symbol of triumph and victory over death. When kings returned to their homeland after winning a battle, his people would wave palm branches as a symbol of victory.
Jesus is a King; He is the King of kings! But His kingdom is not of this world. Earthly kings rode in chariots or on a stunning horse, not a donkey. A donkey is known as an animal of peace. Jesus entered on one because He was triumphant without the spilling of blood. Also, the common person would have been more able to connect to this symbol. God came to serve and save the oppressed. Scholars point out that one of the reasons Jesus rode on a colt never ridden before is because of the prophecies in Zechariah 9:9 and Genesis 49:11. Jacob gave the Genesis prophecy to Judah, the family line from whom Jesus came: "Binding his donkey to the vine, and his donkey's colt to the choice vine." (NKJV) Here is another interesting sign: Jesus came into Jerusalem alone. Most victorious kings come with an entourage. However, we know that Jesus had to go to the Cross for us alone. His accomplishment would be victory for all of creation!
I learned an unfamiliar word this week. “Pareidolia” is the tendency to impose an interpretation onto what one sees according to the way they want to see it. It is a preconceived notion and drawing conclusions based on it. I think we could say that the Pharisees, the disciples, and the crowd could be identified with this word. The Pharisees failed to see their Scriptures fulfilled and so plotted to kill the Son of God. The disciples did not understand the nature and mission of their King but would be transformed after Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. The crowd would quickly turn from crying "Hosanna!" to shouting "Crucify Him!" when they learned that Christ's mission was different from what they expected. Jesus came armed with love even though He was given dominion, power, and majesty over all creation. He came to bring the Kingdom of God to earth. Let us open our eyes to see the truth and worship our amazing King who came in humility and love to give us life with Him forever.
Joan E. Mathias