This weekend we celebrate Palm Sunday, remembering Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem just a few days before His passion, death, and resurrection. The event was prophesied by Zechariah: “Rejoice greatly, Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey. . . He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea … and to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:9-10).
As Jesus came into the city, the multitudes laid down their outer garments and palm branches on the road to symbolize that Jesus is king. That was true – Jesus was their king. He was their Prince of Peace. The surprise is how Jesus chose to signify His kingship.
The donkey has long been considered an animal of peace, as opposed to the horse, which is an animal of war. In the ancient world, victorious rulers would often ride a strong white horse into a conquered city as a symbol of their power and conquest. However, Jesus purposefully chose a donkey to symbolize that His kingdom will be unlike any other earthly one. Jesus’ statement could not have been clearer.
He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, but most people were expecting to see Jesus on a horse.
They wanted a king who would overcome their oppression with a strong hand. They wanted someone to take charge and take over. They could only see what they wanted and not what they needed. In fact, Jesus knew that the king they wanted would never be the kind of king they needed. Their remedy could not be their cure. They chose earthly power over divine love. This caused Jesus to weep over the city.
There are many opinions about what is needed most in the world right now. In the midst of the pain, grief, and loss that have resulted from COVID-19, we weep with Jesus. It is appropriate to lament that we have far less control than we thought, that our powerlessness makes us afraid and that kings on horses are not our salvation. But in our lamenting, we also remember that the Prince of Peace is coming.
The Prince of Peace still comes into our cities, towns, and villages; He enters our churches and courthouses, our hospitals and homes. Moreover, He is riding on a donkey, bringing peace, comfort, and hope. The healing of the world will be accomplished through the triumph of Christ by the power of God’s love. And of His reign, there will be no end.
How do we know that is true? Why can we put our confidence in that hope?
Because Easter is on the way! As it turns out, the Prince of Peace also brings new life out of death.
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38).
Grace and peace to you all,
Board of General Superintendents