“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
– Zechariah 9:9 (NASB)
Today marks the start of the week that leads up to the most important festival in Christianity. Today, we begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday, to commemorate the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The Bible says, “So [the great crowd] took branches of palm trees and went down to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!'” (John 12:13, NRSV-CE)
It was a West Asian tradition to cover the path before someone of great honor, and in fact we still practice this today especially in entertainment awards in the form of the red carpet. Furthermore, the fact that palm branches were used is significant: in the Greco-Roman culture at the time, palms symbolized victory and triumph.
Jesus also rode into Jerusalem on a donkey; the other Gospels depict His asking several apostles to find Him one. The donkey is an animal of peace, the horse one of war. As such, Jesus came in peace, not in war – “Peace be with you” (John 20:19b, NSRV-CE). This is a reminder that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and came into the world with an agenda of love and peace, with said agenda left unchanged when He departed it.
As we begin commemorating the Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection, we are also reminded to be faithful to His ways, to continue His mission here on earth of spreading the Good News and living out the Christian values of love in everything we do: love of God and love of neighbor. We need not – should not, even – enter triumphantly on a donkey, flanked by multitudes of adoring fans. In fact, we should be part of that multitude, giving glory to God alone.
May the Lord bless you and keep you! Please don’t forget to pray for one another!