PALM SUNDAY – HOPE OFFERED! “As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.’ This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: ‘Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey’” (Matthew 21:1-5; Zechariah 9:9 NIV).
Matthew states that this event was predicted by the prophet Zechariah. Zechariah began his prophetic ministry in 520BC. Zechariah said the Messiah/King would appear to offer himself to the nation of Israel riding on a donkey. This was highly unusual. You would think he would be riding on a beautiful stallion as a victorious king. But the Messiah was to come on a beast of burden, not looking so much for royal recognition, but coming to bring peace and service to the nation. As the prophecy in the book of Zechariah says, he was coming as a just king offering salvation. But the nation of Israel failed to accept Him as the Messiah.
Jesus had walked this trail leading to Jerusalem many times with His disciples. He knew where He was going and He knew that from this Mount of Olives later in the week He would be arrested and then crucified. It is estimated that at least 200,000 people would be in Jerusalem at this time for the Passover and many who had seen His miracles and listened to His sermons would be part of this momentous event. So Jesus came, right on God’s timetable, to offer Himself as the Messiah/King. Jesus came, as the fulfillment of the prophecies of all the nation’s prophets, and yet He was rejected. Jesus was recognized as the Messiah by John the Baptist and announced as such by God at His baptism and yet the nation rejected Jesus.
So Jesus appears on Palm Sunday to offer Himself as the Messiah/King/Savior of the nation of Israel. He came meek and lowly riding on a donkey. The Son of God who had walked the earth as a man for 33 years was now revealing to the world in a new and dramatic way exactly who He was. Here was the miracle working God offering Himself to the nation of Israel as the answer to all their problems, their hopes, their aspirations and their fears. And how did the nation respond? We will discuss that in the next post.