A mid-week devotional from Central Presbyterian Church helping us to help prepare our hearts for the day ahead. If you would like to receive these in your inbox, please let us know. Find the complete archive here.
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5 And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
11 And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
As Jesus and the twelve neared the end of their journey to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, they made one final stop before entering the city. From their perch high atop the Mount of Olives just a mile to the east of Jerusalem, they looked down on the temple and the holy city. Turning to the disciples, Jesus sent two of them on a rather unusual mission: go get a donkey. He explained that at the entrance to the village they would find a young colt which had never been ridden, and they were to bring that animal to Him. If anyone questioned them, they were to reply that it was needed for the Lord’s work and would be returned unharmed. The disciples went in and, unsurprisingly to us, found things exactly as Jesus said they would be.
They returned with the still-nursing donkey, along with its mother (Matthew 21:7), and spread their cloaks over the donkey which Jesus then rode down into the Kidron Valley and up once again into Jerusalem. Those in their traveling party, as well as others from the city, rushed ahead to greet Jesus waving palm branches and offering a loud chorus of Hosannas.
Often when we think of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, we think of this as something that doesn’t quite seem to fit the expectations of who Jesus was or what He was to do. Conquering heroes, we think, don’t ride small donkeys, but rather majestic warhorses, battle-hardened stallions.
The reality is, however, that the donkey was not seen as a weak or inferior alternative— some scrawny substitute for a real animal. The donkey was a symbol of peace, a sure sign that the war was over and the foes had all been vanquished. The fact that this particular colt had never been worked or ridden meant that it was perfectly situated for a sacred task, such as carrying the Messiah into His rightful home in the city of kings.
Arriving in such a public manner also appears to be completely out of character for Jesus as He is presented in the gospels. In nearly every other situation Jesus tried to keep the crowds at bay, commanding those He healed to conceal His identity and refuting the demands of the masses to prove Himself through gratuitous signs and miracles.
But His ride down through the valley and up into Jerusalem was not an attempt at shameless self-promotion. Rather, Jesus specifically orchestrated the scene as a fulfillment of prophecy. Writing of the coming King of Zion, Zechariah 9:9 states, “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Jesus of Nazareth, the long-awaited son of David, had finally arrived.
Today, as we remember Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem, let us also remember that we all stand on the other side of a great divide. Because of our own great sin, and the fact that even our best attempts at righteousness are nothing more than filthy rags in the presence of a perfectly holy God, we all need Jesus.
We all need the Prince of Peace to come and set our fearful, anxious, guilt-ridden hearts at rest. We all need the Righteous King to slay the enemies of sin and doubt that rage within us. We all need the Blessed Savior to come and rescue us from the penalty we truly deserved by putting death to death. And thanks be to God, in the person and work of Jesus, we all have all that we need.
Prayer for Today:
Lord Jesus, we need You. We have always needed You. We will always need You. We are all laid bare before You, unable to hide even a single thought from You. You saw us in our weakness, drowning in our sin, and offered up Your life for ours, bridging the divide that otherwise could never be crossed. Forgive us for all the times when we turn to other idols and lesser gods in search of the comfort, pleasure, and peace that are only found in You. Help us to know the joy of our salvation and restore us to true and everlasting life. We pray in your all-sufficient name, Amen.