This is the first in a series of posts leading up to Easter. My intention is to focus on events as recorded in Mark’s Gospel.
We begin on what has become known as Palm Sunday.
Reading: Mark 11 v 1 – 11
Here we have the account of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. We see from the passage that crowds of people were there cheering him on. It may seem to be strange that this was the animal used, but we can see from the first few verses that Jesus quite deliberately chose it. He knew exactly what he was doing, and gave his disciples very specific instructions. Of course, he well knew the prophecy of Zechariah from some 400 years previously:
“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.” Zechariah 9:9 (ESV)
The donkey was a symbol of humility. A King riding into town would have had a strong, powerful horse. Yes, Jesus was to ride in as King, but there was a foreshadowing of his humility in death. It was showing, too, that God himself had humbled himself to become human in the person of Jesus.
Most of the people in the crowd would have had no idea of the significance of this. Some of them may have recalled the prophecy, but would not have understood what it meant. They just thought that Jesus was some great political and military leader who would free them from Roman rule.
For us today, nearly 2000 years later, we need to acknowledge what all this means for us. How amazing that God should come to earth as a human being. Yes, as King most definitely, but as One who, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2: 7b (ESV)
This was the first day of the most important week in human history, the first step on the road to Calvary, to death and resurrection in the place of people like you and me. His kingly reign is all bound up with that. And that is something to rejoice in.
Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die;
Bow Thy meek head to mortal pain,
Then take, O God, Thy power, and reign.