Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
Who is this? Have you ever tried to describe someone very precious to you, and all the words seem woefully inadequate to capture that person’s character and worth? That is how I’ve felt reflecting on Jesus’ person this week. All words seem to groan under the weight of all that He is and has done.
Who is this? The crowds were anxiously asking this question as Jesus came into Jerusalem. Imagine the sights and sounds, how people pressed and fought to see this man called Jesus enter Jerusalem. It was the week of Passover, and likely stories of Jesus’ power to heal likely preceded Him from nearby Bethany where Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead. Pilgrim Jews were eager to receive this man who worked miracles in their midst. Could this be the one that would save them from Roman oppression?
For the first time in His public ministry, Jesus wants all eyes on Him as He enters His final week on earth. He wants people to see what kind of King He is, and that His way of conquering is not through force or dominance, but through humility and death.
Sinclair Ferguson points out the fact that Jesus draws attention to only one special characteristic about Himself—paradoxically, His humility. He calls His disciples to learn from Him, for He is gentle and lowly in heart (Matthew 11:28). This is embodied in how He rides into Jerusalem. He comes not on a chariot or a war horse (Zechariah 9:10), but as the Prince of Peace, humble and mounted on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). Jesus establishes His eternal rule not by way of the world’s glory, but instead the world’s shame and disgrace all the while exhibiting the most tender compassion and grace for His people. He is precisely the kind of king we need. And what a King He is!
Who is this? I want to borrow from the words of Gregory of Nazianzus, who gives such a poignant picture of Jesus’ person, work and worth:
“…He is sold, and cheap was the price—thirty pieces of silver; yet He buys back the world at mighty cost of His blood. A sheep, He is led to the slaughter —yet He shepherds Israel and now the whole world as well…He is weakened, wounded—yet He cures every disease and every weakness. He is brought up to the tree and nailed to it—yet by the tree of life He restores us. He is given vinegar to drink, gall to eat—and who is He? Why, one who turned water into wine, who took away the taste of bitterness, who is all sweetness and desire…He dies, but He vivifies, and by death destroys death…”
Who is this? I want to be more like the blind beggars who unabashedly called out to Jesus for mercy, pleading in desperation that they may recover their sight (Matthew 20:29-34). Would we all have fresh eyes to behold the power of the cross and the astounding meekness of our Savior, and may His perfect holiness be our humility.