Can you think of something you or your family has always done even though you’re not really sure why you do it? Maybe it’s a certain food you eat every holiday, a school chant, or long-time family tradition. For me, that was Palm Sunday.
Even as a boy I have memories of sitting in the pews of my old Baptist church watching people wave palm branches as we all sang a hymn about “Hosanna.” Growing up I always figured we did those things because that’s what had always been done–it was tradition. But when I started asking the question, Why does it matter?, God’s Word became real to me in a way that allowed Him to transform my life–and He can do the same thing for you.
Matthew 21 gives us a window into what is happening–and if we look closer–what promise Jesus gives us through each piece of the story.
Matthew 21:6-10 (NIV)
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
Why was Jesus riding a donkey?
First—He rode a donkey because the prophet Zechariah had prophesied 500 years earlier that the promised King, the Messiah, who would bring salvation to God’s people, would come riding on a donkey.
Zechariah 9:9 (NIV)
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
The Israelites would have known this prophecy because it was part of their culture to know and study the prophecies about the Messiah, the one who would save them, from a young age. When He rode a donkey, he was saying, I am the one you’ve been waiting for.
Second—He did it because it was a symbol of peace. King David rode a horse because he had blood on his hands–it was a symbol of war. But King Solomon was chosen by God to build the temple because he was a righteous man, so He rode a donkey. Something as simple as riding a donkey meant to the Israelites that Jesus came with a promise of salvation and peace–that promise still stands. If God’s Word was true 500 years before that moment even happened, then His promises are still true today.
Why did they throw their coats down?
Laying down their coats was something they did for kings. It’s almost like they were rolling out the red carpet for Jesus–they recognize His importance. It means that when we do the same–when we lay down our own control and authority over our lives–it makes us feel secure because we are under His care. He is the good King who protects His people.
Check back later this week for Part 2.