John 12:12–19 (ESV) ~ The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,“Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
A donkey. He is riding on a donkey. Sure there were cloaks and palm branches. Sure, there was a crowd gathered and they were singing and dancing. Sure, they were crying out to Him to save them, as if they believed that He really could. All of that was true, and yet, He was riding on a donkey.
Donkeys are known for being wild, lowly, and stubborn animals. For thousands of years they have been used as workers, pulling and carrying things through the fields. They laugh (hee-haw) they smile (or bite), and they kick. No one has ever mistaken one for a Clydesdale or an Arabian horse. Their nickname would eventually be used when people wanted to label someone difficult. They are not majestic. They are not magical. They represent those who have to get their hands dirty. They are fit for peasants, not for kings.
That’s why His request had confused them so much;
Luke 19:28–31 (ESV) ~ And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’”
Sure, He needed SOMETHING, but why did He ask for this donkey? For one day they could’ve found a horse. They could’ve borrowed a chariot. They could’ve even carried Him in on their shoulders. He was a king after all; and this would be His coronation. This would be the way He began His kingdom.
Surely He wanted for people to know who He was. To understand why He was there. Jerusalem, the Holy City. He has come to capitalize on this opportunity and to overtake Rome and claim His rightful throne. To restore the nation of Israel. To rebuild the kingdom of Saul, David, and Solomon. To help God’s children regain their rightful place of power. The last three years had been a slow and seemingly monotonous build to this moment, and now, this was His time. This was THEIR time. What joy has filled their hearts. Their King has come!
Riding on donkey.
Zechariah 9:9 (ESV) ~ 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.