‘Rejoice, rejoice, people of Zion! Shout for joy, you people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you! He comes triumphant and victorious, but humble and riding on a donkey ...’ (Zechariah 9.9 GNB, sixth century BC)
A thousand years or so before Jesus, the nation of Israel had enjoyed a golden age. But things had gone downhill ever since. The country had split in two. Assyria took the north, Babylon the south. Eventually, Jerusalem and the temple were rebuilt, yet Jews never recaptured the deep sense of God’s peace and presence of the glory days. So, they longed for God to send the Messiah and defeat their enemies. One of their prophets, Zechariah, promised that one day, this would happen: God was going to send a deliverer – on a donkey.
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, people remembered Zechariah’s prophecy – was he the promised Messiah? Was he about to free them from their Roman oppressors?
But things turned out differently. Jesus hadn’t come to bring political, but spiritual freedom. He had come to wage war, not against Rome but against sin and evil.
In the film The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn was born to be the king who’d restore peace and justice. The films show him in a struggle with himself and this destiny. In the books, however, he knows who he is and what he must do. He’s not a reluctant king but a sure one.
This is Jesus.
He’s not a reluctant king but sure of who he is and what he must do.
On Palm Sunday, as Jesus rode in the people rejoiced and cried aloud, an echo of Psalm 118.25–26. This was no throwaway phrase. They’re joining in with the Psalmist’s cry, ‘Lord, save us!’ This a cry for help. It’s a cry from the pit. But it’s not without hope.
Being a follower of Jesus is not about having everything together. It’s about crying out to God for help with hope. It’s about remembering the promises of God even when you’re in the pit.
What is your cry for help today?
What makes you feel desperate and helpless?
Jesus entered Jerusalem knowing who he was and what he must do to meet every cry of help with real hope.