“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you doing this?” say, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’’’ They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, ‘What are you doing, untying that colt?’ They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.”—Mark 11:1–6 NIV
Have you ever wondered why Jesus chose to ride into Jerusalem on a young donkey when throughout His entire ministry He traveled by walking or on an occasional stormy boat ride? Not only did He make the effort to make sure He rode into Jerusalem, but He rode in on a colt of all animals! Are we surprised though? We’re talking about the same Jesus who said love your enemies, become like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven, and blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, and those who are persecuted. Jesus was always teaching and living counter-culturally, and His triumphant entry was no different!
Although He sought to defy the cultural expectation of what a king should be like, He still used culturally-understandable signs to convey a message that perhaps the people in that moment didn’t understand. In those times, kings would often ride in on horses when they were declaring war. When kings rode on donkeys, it signified their coming in peace.
Jesus came in all humility to bring peace to the souls of those who would choose to accept and follow Him. He submitted Himself to the will of His Father by becoming nothing, a servant in human form, and “becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8 NIV). Regardless of this sign though, the people seemed to have an expectation of Jesus to be a Messiah who would deliver them politically and socially instead of eternally. This is why those who would sing “Hosanna” and lay down their branches or coats for Jesus as He rode in on the donkey would also days later be shouting “Crucify Him!”
Whenever I ponder this occurrence, I can’t help but ask myself, “How do I view Jesus? Have I truly made Him my King?” The people didn’t have a truthful view of Jesus because they wanted Him to fit their own mold of what a king should be. They didn’t truly make Him their king because they refused to accept and misunderstood His humble sacrifice.
The beauty of viewing Jesus through a biblical lens of truth; however, is that we can know Him as both the humble servant and the triumphant warrior because we know that the power of sin and death was conquered in the resurrection and the eternal defeat of darkness is promised in the future when Jesus does return on a horse! Therefore, I leave you with the same question to consider today: “How will you view Jesus? Will you truly make Him the King of your heart in all humility and glory?”
Pause: Have you sought to make Jesus conform to your idea of what a savior or king should be? If so, how?
Practice: Read Philippians 2:6–11 and Colossians 1:15–20 to remind yourself of who Jesus truly is. Wherever you want to make Jesus something He’s not for your own convenience, replace that with the truth of who He is today.
Pray: Jesus, my humble and glorious Savior and King, I’m sorry for any areas where I chose to use You or change You in order to fit my personal desires. I ask that You help me remember the beauty of Your true identity as my King, my Redeemer, my friend, and my brother. I choose to view You as such today. I choose to worship and follow You! Amen.