Jesus’ entry in Jerusalem is a marvelous scene in Matthew 21:
7 They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them. 8 The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road.
9 The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?”11And the crowds replied, “This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.” (NAB)
But why was Jesus riding on a donkey? You would expect a horse because Jesus is a king right? But not so fast. There’s symbolism about the animal.
In antiquity, riding a donkey conveyed peace as opposed to riding on a horse that conveyed a message of war. So by Jesus entering on a donkey, this fulfills the Prophet Zechariah:
“Exult greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! Behold: your king is coming to you, a just savior is he, Humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (9:9) ” (NAB)
Notice that this king is “humble” which also ties into the donkey’s symbolism of peace.
Further, he entered on the robes of the people. The common people of Jerusalem were most likely poor with little to offer, so them throwing their robes at the feet of their Messiah is a very powerful picture of Jesus being adored by the humblest of people.
Although Jesus has always been the Son in the Trinity, he became human like us. He walked our dirty streets, was born in a manger, and saw the filth of Israel, but never thought the world we live in was “beneath him’ as the Son of Man.
Because he lived, we have an exemplary life to imitate. Jesus’ amazing display of humility should inspire us to discover ways to deny ourselves and embrace the pathway of humbleness in our daily faith journey.