I’ve always wondered why Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey instead of a horse when He entered Jerusalem as a King. Here was the King of kings entering Jerusalem to win His victory over death and to secure the way to salvation, the way of resurrection, for everyone willing to walk that road.
To get to the root of why Jesus rode a donkey we need to read passages of Scripture in Zechariah and Luke. The date for each passage is very approximate, but they are each separated by about 400 years which is a recurring measurement of time in the Bible. So, let’s get started!
Zechariah 9: NIV (circa 520 BC)
9 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt [a], the foal of a donkey.
Matthew 21: NIV (circa 60 AD)
7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on.
8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,“Hosanna to the Son of David!”“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Jesus was keeping the prophecy in Zechariah. As for why two animals, the donkey and a colt of a donkey, there’s no real agreement. My conjecture won’t resolve this debate so I’ll refrain for stating it.
Jesus was coming as the prophetic fulfillment of Isaac. (Genesis. 22:1-19). Soon, for Jesus, Genesis 22:6 would be fulfilled, for that verse says, “ And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac, his son…” For Jesus, the wooden cross for His sacrifice would be laid on Him.
Jesus was coming to the Earthly capital of His kingdom. But, He was coming in meekness and outward poverty. He didn’t even own a donkey for it was borrowed. Jesus, as the Son of God, made all Creation yet enters His city riding on a borrowed donkey. How wrong it is for us to covet wealth.
As we know, this entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem was not the time when He would set up His physical kingdom. That happens when He returns, for we read in Revelation 19:11 (NIV), “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.” Notice, He’s on a horse; that makes me happy.
Hosanna is used to express adoration, praise, or joy. As we remember once again the Passion of Christ let us shout, “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
[a] The unbroken foal would be more easily subdued and guided when its mother was with it; such an addition to the ridden animal would usually be employed to carry the rider’s luggage.