Matthew 21:1–11 (NRSV)
Chapter 21When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, Verse 2saying to them, "Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. Verse 3If anyone says anything to you, just say this, 'The Lord needs them.' And he will send them immediately." Verse 4This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, Verse 5"Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey." Verse 6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; Verse 7they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. Verse 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Verse 9The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!" Verse 10When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, "Who is this?" Verse 11The crowds were saying, "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee."
Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey and the crowd erupted with praise in the words of Psalm 118. These were the words the Hebrew people had sung for centuries as they remembered the days when their king would return victorious from battle. Yet, something was strange about this picture. Jesus rode on a donkey. Everyone knew that a mighty king who was victorious in battle would ride on a horse.
Perhaps there was a similar scene happening on the other side of Jerusalem. Perhaps Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, was riding on a horse, flanked by soldiers, proclaiming to the people that Caesar would maintain peace in their land.
Jesus rode a donkey, flanked by fishermen, tax collectors, women, children, and the lost sheep of Israel. Was this the king they hoped for? Was this the one who would save them? What do you envision when you cry out, “God, save us?”
O God, give us eyes to see your vision of peace. Give us courage to follow you as you ride a donkey and lead the poor and lowly. Amen.