Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Why the Donkey instead of a Horse?

Meditation for the week of March 28, 2010

Zechariah 9:9 "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.

On the Sunday before the Lord’s crucifixion, he made what is often called His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  By doing this he publicly declared Himself to be the Messiah predicted in the old testament.  He had proved Himself to be the Son of God through the miracles that he had done, particularly by the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead in John 11. But He had not allowed the disciples to publicly declare Him to be the Messiah before this event.  He commanded His disciples in Matthew 16:20 to tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. 

So why did he enter Jerusalem on a donkey rather than on a horse?  It was necessary because that was what the prophet predicted, but why did the prophet predict that?  I think it was because the Lord was coming to offer peace and not to make war.  Apparently, a donkey was considered a noble animal and a king that was coming in peace rode one.  But a King that was making war would usually ride a horse.  That is what most scholars that I have read seem to think.  That makes sense because the Lord is coming on a white horse in Revelation 19:11 and in that passage He comes to make war. 

The Lord is called the Prince of Peace in Isaiah 9:6.  He tells his disciples that he has come to give them peace in John 16:33.  The world does not provide peace but the Lord does.  He provides peace that passes understanding in Philippians 4:7. 

But the nation of Israel did not want peace, they wanted war.  They did not want someone who came without an army and without weapons.  They did not want someone whose purpose was to save rather than to destroy.  They wanted someone like Barrabus who had resisted the Romans.  He was in jail for insurrection (Mark 15:7).  I am afraid that we still live in a world like that today.  I don’t think the world is ready for a true man of peace.  The Lord  was rejected within a week of making His so-called triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and yet He won by losing.  He got the victory by dying.   This is a lesson that is well-worth noting.  Violence only begets violence.  The one who lives by the sword dies by the sword (Matthew 26:52).

While the nation of Israel rejected the Prince of Peace, individuals have received Him by believing in Him (John 1: 12).  They have accepted His offer of peace.  Sinners who are God’s enemies by nature, have been reconciled to God through the death of the Lord (Romans 5:10) when they trust in Him. 

Peace is a wonderful thing.  We remember with great joy when peace came at the end of the World Wars.   But do we also remember the peace that we got when we trusted in Christ?  Some have described that peace as having a burden roll away.   Being reconciled to God and realizing that you are saved for eternity is a great relief.  We who are saved have found out that the sin for which we should have been punished has been punished on the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).  What a relief it was to find that our sin debt had been forgiven, that the enmity between us and God was now gone, and that we were not condemned and never would be.  We had peace.

I wonder what kind of a Palm Sunday most of us have had?  Some of us have the peace that God offers and some of us do not.  But just like Israel, we have all been offered that peace.  Did we pass through another Palm Sunday learning about Him but not trusting in Him?  Or are enjoying the peace of God that passes all understanding? 

Bruce Collins

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