The Conquering King
Often when Jesus performed a miracle, He would say something like this: “Don’t tell anyone. My time has not yet come.”
But ultimately His time did come, the time for Him to go and voluntarily die on the cross. And on the day we celebrate as Palm Sunday, Jesus did something that we might call a real attention-getter: He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.
Now, it may seem odd to us that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on what we think of as a humble creature. From our perspective, perhaps an Arabian stallion would have been more appropriate.
However, the meaning was not lost on the Romans or the Jews. It was a perfect choice. In Roman culture, a hero returning victoriously from war would ride in on a donkey as the crowd laid out palm branches before him. For the Romans, Jesus effectively was declaring Himself a king.
Also, the Jews knew that when the Messiah came, He would be riding on a donkey. Speaking through the prophet Zechariah, God said, “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 was something very significant, and the people understood it. Add to this the fact that Jesus was a wanted man. There was a price on his head. The leading priests and Pharisees had said that if anyone knew where Jesus was, they should report it immediately.
Jesus was playing His hand, if you will. To the Romans He was declaring Himself as a conqueror. And to the Jews He was declaring Himself as the Messiah. Jesus didn’t enter Jerusalem as a helpless victim. He arrived as a powerful victor, marching bravely into battle.
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