Ben Reaoch | Category: Easter, Theology for Life
“Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’”
And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.” (Mark 11:1–11, ESV)
This colt served a special purpose because it was a fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus didn’t send for this colt because His legs were tired. He sent for it because, by riding this colt into Jerusalem, He was going to send a message—a messianic message. Jesus says that this colt had never been ridden by anyone before. This was a colt that had been saved for just this occasion. It had been set aside for a sacred and royal purpose.
The Old Testament points forward to this event. Zechariah 9:9 says, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Mark doesn’t insert this quotation, but Matthew and John do in their record of the triumphal entry. Jesus was clearly fulfilling this prophecy. This is how the king was going to come.
There is also an allusion to this in Genesis 49, where Jacob prophecies of Judah, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes” (Genesis 49:10-11). The Old Testament pointed to this, even from the very first book. This is the Messiah. He is both Sovereign King and humble Savior.
Jesus has been teaching about the kingdom of God and how it is so different than the kingdom of man. His arrival in Jerusalem in this way is another picture of this. He doesn’t come in on a war horse, decked out in armor, bearing a sword, with defeated captives trailing behind Him. That would have made the experience all the more exciting for the bystanders. But that’s not how Jesus came. He is the sovereign King. He is ruler of all and has power over all. But He comes to Jerusalem in a humble way, riding on a donkey, a donkey that doesn’t even have a saddle. The disciples had to put their own cloaks on it before Jesus sat down.
Riding on a donkey was a proclamation of who Jesus is—the Messiah—in fulfillment of prophecy. And it was also a description of what He is like—humble and peaceful. Like the Zechariah prophecy says, “humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
This post originally appeared April 14, 2014.
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