Easter in Three Pictures #1This year I found three images that have been powerfully symbolic of the message of Holy Week. The first one is related to Palm Sunday.
Jesus was an 'unexpected' Messiah for the Jews. They had expected a political figure who would chase the Romans into the sea, establish an earthly throne in Jerusalem and set up a kingdom that the likes of King David would only have dreamed about. When Jesus came and established a heavenly kingdom - a kingdom of the heart - many expectations were disappointed. Some even suggest that Judas betrayed Jesus to "force His hand" - to propel Him into taking the route of power and conquest instead of humility.
What animal would you expect a coming Messiah to ride? Our imaginations swing to a great white stallion - a symbol of power, strength, and war (maybe even a holy war.)
But there is an old prophecy in Zechariah that was missed by the religious establishment... In contrast, to a King on a Stallion, the Messiah comes riding a donkey's foal. What connotations come from riding a donkey's foal? It was mode of transport for the elderly or children. It would be the mount chosen by a soothsaying prophet or a wise hermit.
Riding a donkey is not the declaration of war, but a statement of the intent of peace. This was Jesus' mode of transport on Palm Sunday as He entered Jerusalem. It was a week before Passover, Jerusalem was full of pilgrims, they were remembering the miraculous Exodus from Egypt and so nationalistic fervour ran high. Jesus sent a crystal clear message on that day: His kingdom was not an earthly kingdom. He was not willing to go to war to obtain peace. He came not as a Victor, but a Victim, and He would grant salvation by giving Himself.
So... put yourself in the sandals of the lone-worshipper in the picture....
Read again the beautiful promise of just Who it is riding the donkey...
Look at His title, consider His nature and the gift He bears. Consider His message: "I am the servant who brings peace by laying down my life."
And then "Rejoice greatly" and "Shout!"
|Rejoice greatly O Daughter of Zion! |
Shout, daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your King comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah9:9)