The prophet Zechariah was privileged to be given this prophecy to share with the world about the coming Messiah:
9 Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion!
Shout, daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you,
a righteous one bringing salvation.
He is lowly, riding on a donkey—
on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 (TLV)
When the future Leader of God’s kingdom was introduced in Jerusalem, He was recognized by these specific signs and qualities:
- He will be righteous. No human being is righteous on their own goodness. We all have sins and flaws. Except for one – the only person who lived without sin is Jesus Christ.
- He will bring salvation. Only God can give the gift of salvation, eternal life. The only person who is 100% God and 100% human is Jesus Christ.
- He will present Himself to His people while riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Of all humanity, only Jesus fulfills these Messianic requirements. As He prepared to enter Jerusalem on the Sunday before His death on the cross, He gave certain instructions to His disciples:
1 When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples, 2 telling them, “Go into the village ahead of you. At once you will find a donkey tied there, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you should say that the Lord needs them, and immediately he will send them.”
4 This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:
5 Tell Daughter Zion,
“Look, your King is coming to you,
gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
even on a colt,
the foal of a beast of burden.”
6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt; then they laid their robes on them, and He sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their robes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. 9 Then the crowds who went ahead of Him and those who followed kept shouting:
Hosanna to the Son of David!
He who comes in the name
of the Lord is the blessed One!
Hosanna in the highest heaven! Matthew 21:1-9 (HCSB)
Upon His entry, Jesus was received by the crowd with great fanfare. They fully expected He would assume His kingship immediately and overthrow the oppressive Roman empire. Jesus’ credentials as Messiah were fulfilled by the countless miracles and healings He performed, so they had no reason to think He would not immediately fulfill this role. But there was a problem – sin. Because of people’s sin, they would not be able to live as His righteous subjects in a holy and pure kingdom. The hard fact was that there first had to be a remedy for sin.
The solution planned from the beginning of time was for Jesus to lay His life down as the holy sacrifice for the sin of the world. After three days in the tomb, He would be raised from the dead and bring new life to all believers. This is the great hope that Christ-followers have to this day.
Jesus will return to Jerusalem one day as glorious King of the final world empire, the Kingdom of God. So many of the Old Testament prophets write of this day. But it had (and has) not yet arrived, and the crowds that worshiped Jesus at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem did not understand what was happening. When Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested on groundless accusations then beaten and crucified as an atonement for sin, almost all of the people around Him abandoned Him in disappointment and fear.
Jesus’ horrible crucifixion was also prophesied about, first in the Psalms:
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are disjointed;
my heart is like wax,
melting within me.
15 My strength is dried up like baked clay;
my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
You put me into the dust of death.
16 For dogs have surrounded me;
a gang of evildoers has closed in on me;
they pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones;
people look and stare at me.
18 They divided my garments among themselves,
and they cast lots for my clothing. Psalm 22:14-18 (HCSB)
Then by the prophet Isaiah:
4 Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses,
and He carried our pains;
but we in turn regarded Him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced because of our transgressions,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on Him,
and we are healed by His wounds.
6 We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished Him
for the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:4-6 (HCSB)
We believers are eternally grateful that God loved us enough to permit such sacrifice on our behalf. And He is calling all people to Himself through the power of the cross.
Lord Jesus, thank You for going to the cross for us. We have all sinned and fallen short of Your righteousness. We ask for Your forgiveness and mercy and for Your help in extending mercy and forgiveness to those around us. We ask this in Your Name, Amen.