The King on a Donkey

Zechariah 99 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 19:28–40 (ESV)

28 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’ ” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

Parallel Texts: Matthew 21:1-9; Mark 11:1-10; John 12:12-19

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on the Sunday before the Passover. As he drew near, he sent two of his disciples ahead to bring a young donkey to him. The disciples went into the village and found a young donkey tied up as Jesus told them they would. When they began to untie the donkey, the owners asked them what they were doing. They replied, “The Lord has need of it.” Surprisingly, and miraculously, this was all that was necessary. The owners allowed them to take the donkey to Jesus.

When Jesus received the donkey he had sent his disciples to obtain, he sat on it and rode it into Jerusalem. As he rode, the people put their cloaks on the ground in the road in front of him and began to rejoice and praise God. They were saying things like “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.” Matthew tells us that the people also waved palm branches and shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” All of this fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 concerning the promised Messiah.

When the Pharisees heard this, they called on Jesus to stop his followers. Jesus should not allow his disciples to say such things. They needed to stop! Jesus’ response was that if the crowds were silenced the stones would cry out. Praise was the appropriate thing for this occasion!

The Messiah rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, which was a symbol of peace. Jesus came not as a warrior King on a horse, but as one who brought peace. This was contrary to the expectation of what the Messiah would do. He was expected to lead the Jewish people to freedom from Rome. However, Jesus came for a greater purpose. He came to deliver the people from their sin by going to the cross as a sacrifice. In doing this, he brought the people peace with God. He was not the Messiah the people expected, but he was the Messiah that mankind needed.

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