John 12:12-16 (NLT)
12 The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors 13 took palm branches and went down the road to meet him.
They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Hail to the king of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: 15 “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look your king is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.”
16 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.
I have heard this story many times and maybe you have too. Just a few short verses to describe the start of Holy Week, you go to church and get a cross fashioned from palm fronds but the focus is really on the next Sunday: Easter. In an effort to prepare my heart for Easter, I decided to stop and look more closely at these verses and it brought up some questions.
First, why a donkey? Well, more precisely the colt of a donkey. Why not a horse? Shouldn’t Jesus enter Jerusalem in style? It’s like riding into town in a Ford Fiesta instead of an Escalade. Turns out that kings who come in peace rode on a donkey. A horse is a sign of human strength and pride, but a donkey shows humility and royal authority. The donkey was much more fitting for the Prince of Peace. Jesus doesn’t need flash and style, he has substance!
Despite his humble transportation, the crowds gathered to praise him. They laid palms and cloaks down on the road giving Jesus the red carpet treatment. The crowds thought he was coming as a king to fight their battles for them. They were looking for an earthly king to save them from their current situation, but Jesus had something different planned and it was so much more than the people could dream or imagine! Jesus had come to save but not in the way they wanted and a short time later they turned on him. How many times have I done that? “I want you to do this Lord. This is my plan, make it happen please.” Have I been disappointed when things don’t turn out how I orchestrated in my mind? Of course. How many times is God’s plan so much better than mine? Hmm, let me think: ALWAYS. How many times have I missed something greater because I was so stuck on my path? I am not sure I want to know the answer to that one.
Even the disciples missed it and they had Jesus in the flesh 24/7. It wasn’t until Jesus fulfilled what he had come to do that they could look back and say, “Hey, I think I heard about that before! That was about Jesus! I get it now!” Jesus’ triumphal entry was leading him to the cross. Later in the week, he faced crowds who were much less hospitable. He faced the humiliation and pain for me and for you. Think about that for a minute, I mean really think about it. The penalty for sin is death and we have all sinned. God had a better plan; He sent his Son to fight the battle over death. For us. All of us. Not because we earned it but because he loves us.
John 3:16 – 17 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”
I am not sure where you are today. Is this just a story or a truth deeply planted in your heart? Are you curious to learn more? I challenge you to open your heart to what God has planned.
Check out these verses, they are recollections of this same event from different perspectives.
Matthew 21: 1 -11
Mark 11: 1 – 11
Luke 19: 28 – 44