Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. (Zechariah 9:9)
Passover was just a few days away. Jerusalem buzzed with activity. Jews from all parts of the Roman world made the pilgrimage to the Judean capitol to celebrate the first of three Feasts of the Lord that required mandatory attendance by every Jewish male (Deuteronomy 16:16). In spite of Roman oppression, this was a time of celebration as everyone anticipated the promised king that would deliver them and restore Israel’s former greatness. “Perhaps this year,” they thought.
To this cacophony of festivities entered the unassuming King of Kings. Daniel had prophesied this event more than 483 years before. “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined” (Daniel 9:25-26). Today the prophecy appeared – lowly, and riding upon a donkey’s foal as prophesied by Zechariah. Even this unnoticed act was miraculous. A foal is a donkey (or horse) that is not yet a year old. This one, a colt (male), had never been ridden (Mark 11:2; Luke 19:30). Surely anyone reading this knows what happens when a donkey, horse or mule is mounted for the first time, but not so here. “And they brought him [the colt] to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way” (Luke 19:35-36). Somehow, that little animal understood the significance of the rider. He was carrying the Creator, the One who said, “Take my yoke upon you … For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).
Thus Jesus entered His city to present Himself as the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). A conqueror would have entered upon a white charger parading his conquests before him, but a king who comes in peace enters in on a mule or a donkey (1 Kings 1:30-40). As Jesus made His way into the city, the crowd thronged Him singing the words of the psalm “Hosanna!” meaning “Save now!” “Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD” (Psalm 118:25-26). Who knows if the mob understood the significance of the psalm or of the Man to whom they sang? When the religious leaders compelled Jesus to silence the crowd (for they understood very well the significance of the words), “he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40).
Interesting that at the first Passover, when the children of Israel were in Egypt, Moses required each family to take an unblemished lamb into their home at the first of the month. This lamb would become endeared to the family, and then on the fourteenth of the month, the lamb would be slain and its blood painted on the door posts of the house (Exodus 12:1-12). Now the Lamb of God entered the house of Israel to be sacrificed for the sins of the world. All things foreordained “from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). Thus Messiah, the King on a donkey, presented Himself only to be “despised and rejected of men” (Isaiah 53:3). Soon the Passover Lamb would be “cut off” (Daniel 9:26).
The King will return. When He returns, His mount will not be a lowly donkey, but a mighty, white steed. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war … And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:11, 16) – no longer a King on a donkey.
Hallelujah! “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)