March 28, 2010

Our King on a Donkey

Zechariah 9:9-13

See, your king comes to you … lowly and riding on a donkey.
Zechariah 9:9


Today is Palm Sunday. Did you know that over 300 years before Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey there was another king who entered that city? He too was welcomed with great jubilation. That king was Alexander the Great. The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that Alexander entered Jerusalem on his steed, the powerful war horse that had served him well in battle.

The high priest led Alexander to the temple, where the book of Daniel was opened to the place that predicted the coming of a Greek ruler who would destroy the Persian Empire. All agreed that Alexander was this conquering hero. He was so moved by the honor he received that he was pleased to grant any favors the people asked before leaving.

What a contrast to the way Jesus entered Jerusalem. Unlike Alexander, Jesus rode a lowly donkey, a pack animal. But the donkey was an animal of peace and a royal mount before the warhorse became common (see 2 Sam. 16:2). Even so, the crowd’s fervor for Jesus was short lived, for less than a week later he was crucified.

But Jesus was also fulfilling prophecy that day. The crowd that shouted “Hosanna” did not recognize the kind of king he was (see Matthew 21:4-11). He came not as a military warrior, but as the suffering Savior. His defeat of sin makes Jesus the greatest King who ever lived.

Lord Jesus, you humbly entered Jerusalem to save us from our sin. Help us to follow your example of humility and to lead others to you, our great King. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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