John 12:12 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.
14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,
15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.
Today, Sunday, is the beginning of Holy Week, a day which is referred to as Palm Sunday due to the worshippers of Jesus waving palm branches as He entered into His City for the last time riding on a donkey. The city was exploding with those who were attending the annual Passover feast and celebration so that when word went out that their king was coming, people flocked out to welcome Him. They shouted the word Hosanna, which means "come and save us." Finally the long awaited Messiah had come to save them and as the praises were shouted in honor of their King, Jesus rode through and by the crowd on His way to the events of the next week. Yes, indeed, He had come save them, but it would be in a manner that would cause most to question the nature of His kingdom.
Why did our King come into Jerusalem on a donkey?
Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
In the ancient Middle Eastern world, leaders rode horses if they rode to war, but donkeys if they came in peace. First Kings 1:33 mentions Solomon riding a donkey on the day he was recognized as the new king of Israel. Other instances of leaders riding donkeys are Judges 5:10; 10:4; 12:14; and 2 Samuel 16:2.
KJV 1 Kings 1:33 The king also said unto them, Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon:
ESV Judges 5:10 "Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys, you who sit on rich carpets and you who walk by the way.
ESV Judges 10:4 And he had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys, and they had thirty cities, called Havvoth-jair to this day, which are in the land of Gilead.
ESV Judges 12:14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys, and he judged Israel eight years.
ESV 2 Samuel 16:2 And the king said to Ziba, "Why have you brought these?" Ziba answered, "The donkeys are for the king's household to ride on, the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine for those who faint in the wilderness to drink."
The mention of a donkey in Zechariah 9:9-10 fits the description of a king who would be “righteous and having salvation, gentle.” Rather than riding to conquer, this king would enter in peace.
Grand Opening of God’s Mission for the World through Christ, the Prince of Peace.
From our text we know that many went out to see Jesus, having heard that He had raised Lazarus from the dead. Those who shouted Hosanna that day were not only shouting praises to His name, but they were also calling upon Him to save them. It is unclear as to if they knew what was going to happen the later in the week, but with what knowledge they had, they praised God for the good works that He had done, With the faith that they had, they shouted loudly and joyously to their God as He rode by on the donkey.
The events of next week would openly show all of what would be the nature of His rule and kingship: He did not come to conquer and to subdue His enemies, but rather He came to submit Himself to the rulers and authorities in ordered to be subdued by them. In so doing, He died for all so that through His death life came to all.
16 These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.
The disciples did not yet understand of the prophecies which were being fulfilled, but later after the coming of the Holy Spirit, their understanding was opened as they remembered the events of Palm Sunday.
17 The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record.
18 For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.
The people who had been at the raising of Lazarus from the dead gave testimony to that miracle, and so many hearing of Jesus raising one from the dead, came to meet Jesus as He entered the Holy City.
19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.
The disciples did not link the Old Testament prophecies to Jesus’s Messiahship until after the Holy Spirit came, the people who had heard of the raising of Lazarus from the dead by Jesus went out of curiosity, and the Pharisees were threatened by the growing popularity of Jesus with the people.
In Matthew’s Gospel, it is written:
16:13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Our second scripture reading spoke to us of His atoning sacrifice of death on the cross….
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
May the Holy Spirit open our eyes, our mind and our heart so that we may see, that we may understand and that we may rejoice believing that Jesus came to give us life out of His death.
Grace be upon you this day!
Pastor Orval Wirkkala