Typically, as the world’s kings entered their capital city, they were decked out in silver armor, riding pure white warhorses to signify their power. But the way God’s King rode into Jerusalem was similar to how He arrived in Bethlehem the night He was born. Jesus balanced on the back of a donkey, demonstrating humility and peace. Remarkably, the donkey was borrowed, just like Jesus’ first bed—a feeding trough.
He was an unemployed, homeless man without an army or any other visible sign of power. Isn’t it surprising that Jesus, the Creator of all things, had no possessions? Earlier on, He’d borrowed a boat and a boy’s lunch. One He used as a podium for teaching; the other, for miraculously feeding a huge, hungry crowd. And before this week ended, His dead body would be laid in a borrowed tomb.
This is the type of king who rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. His fame was soaring on the wings of perhaps His greatest miracle—raising His friend Lazarus from the dead—and when the crowd heard He was coming to Jerusalem, excitement reached fever pitch.
Because of the Passover, more than a million people had converged upon the Holy City. Jesus was surrounded by pilgrims, some spreading their garments on the road while others cut tree branches to place in His path. As He passed, the crowd shouted; “Save now, Son of David! Save now!”
Jesus had previously rejected all attempts to make Him king. However, this Passover was wildly different. He’d instructed His disciples to secure a donkey for His ride into the city, indicating He was the king foretold by Zechariah (9:9). From that moment on, there was no turning back or away. After this very public demonstration, the religious elite would be forced to either accept Him or reject Him—to seat Him on the throne of their hearts or nail Him to a cross.
Jesus knew that before week’s end, He’d endure the mockery of a kangaroo court, receive a merciless beating, and be forced to carry a cross through the streets of Jerusalem. He knew there’d be no cheering crowds that day. Yet this would be a week that changed the world. He knew that after He was dead and gone, He would rise again.
Thinking of Jesus riding on a donkey toward a certain and cruel death, I wonder, What does this have to do with me on Palm Sunday 2015? Then I recall the words, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,” the one who said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Phil. 2:5; Luke 9:23).
I have my answer: I am to follow Jesus to the cross, die to myself and become alive in God, then love the world and redeem it by loving and serving.