“Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: ‘Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt’.” John 12:14-15
You would think a king’s arrival would be constantly overstated, wielding his authority in obvious ways so that the people of that kingdom know who is in control. Whenever a king entered a city in the ancient times, it is likely he would enter on a warhorse, riding with a regal army behind. Here in John 12 we see the people welcoming a king, waving their hands and palm branches in honor of this man, Jesus. Essentially, they have “voted Him in” to be president or emperor of the empire they want. They want Him to set them free from the tyranny they face under the Roman government.
This scene is royal in many aspects, but this king is very different from regular kings. There is no gold crown on His head nor is He decked out in royal robes and, most unusual, He rides into Jerusalem not on a horse, but on a donkey. A king in most cases wanted his subjects to be afraid of him for, in such a fearful state, he would had have more power over them. Jesus is a different kind of king. As King, He wants people to know how approachable He is—that He has not come to make people afraid, nor has He come to establish an empire but rather to bring a heavenly kingdom that is not of this world. He has come not on a white horse but on a donkey.
The people had just seen that this man had power over death when He raised Lazarus from the dead, and so it is for good reason they now are in a frenzy wanting Him to change everything in their lives that is out of their control.
By riding on a donkey and fulfilling the prophet Zechariah’s prophecy, Jesus calms the frenzied crowd. His message was, “I have not come to change everything in to the way you want it to be changed, but I have come to change your heart, change your mind, change your whole approach to life.” Jesus was not going to establish an empire that could, in one generation, be changed by someone else. He came to establish an eternal, unchangeable Kingdom that has always been and always will be. This eternal Kingdom wasn’t something new, for it was something from out of which the very fabric and foundation of the world was created. It was a Kingdom of love, not one of violence or terror or even of human ingenuity. Just one of love. It was not nor ever would become an empire of money, fame and success. It was and always would be a Kingdom of faith, hope, and love, capable of carrying people beyond the grave.
Jesus, by riding on a donkey, was showing His unchanging humility, security and wisdom. This Kingdom would not be established through the might of a warhorse but through the humility of a Servant-King. And this Kingdom’s reign spans yesterday, today and forever.
Who wants in?