Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion.
Sing aloud, Daughter Jerusalem.
Look, your king will come to you.
He is righteous and victorious.
He is humble and riding on an ass,
on a colt, the offspring of a donkey.
He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the warhorse from Jerusalem.
The bow used in battle will be cut off;
he will speak peace to the nations.
His rule will stretch from sea to sea,
and from the river to the ends of the earth.
A cowboy riding a stick horse. That’s pretty much what Zechariah saw when he envisioned a coming king, a king who would bring peace to a land at war for so long that no one alive could remember what peace was like. These are ridiculous images: a cowboy on a stick horse; a king on a donkey. Everyone knows kings ride war horses!
Most of us don’t typically read Zechariah’s book. But many will recognize this passage as a prophecy of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (see Matthew 21:1-11). Or perhaps not so much a prophecy as an image Jesus liked and ran with. It was just comical enough to get people’s attention.
A few years ago, on a trip to Israel, our guide suggested that at the exact moment Jesus was riding a not-yet-full-grown donkey in from the East, it’s likely that Pilate was astride a large and powerful horse, leading his troops in from the West. It’s unclear whether anyone could ever prove this, but it sounds plausible – and brilliant. It’s clear that the crowds were with Jesus. I wonder if anyone came to welcome Pilate?
There are plenty of lessons here for us: lessons about humility, about the illusion of power, and the genuine strength that’s found in being able to laugh at yourself. Sometimes the most ridiculous things can lead to the most sublime moments!
For Pondering & Prayer
Jesus wasn’t afraid to ‘humiliate’ himself by embracing Zechariah’s absurd image. Is there an area of your life in which you need to care less about what others think?
Have you ever you been guilty of riding a war horse into a situation where you should have been riding a donkey? How might a change in your mindset have changed the outcome?