Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey — riding on a donkey’s colt. (Zechariah 9:9)
God’s ways are often upside-down from what we expect. Would He really plan for the victorious Messiah, the King of the Universe, to come to earth in humility, riding on the back of a donkey? Yes, He would. For we see that four days before Passover, as Jesus sets out toward Jerusalem, He sends two disciples ahead, telling them they will find a donkey with its colt beside it. They are to bring both to Jesus, as the time has arrived for the fulfillment of the prophecy pronounced by Zechariah more than 500 years earlier: God had planned that the Messiah would arrive in Jerusalem — with the crowds shouting in triumph — humble and riding on a donkey.
So, unexpected, yes. But God’s ways are also assuredly predictable: He always carries through on His exact words. So now, just as He foretold through Zechariah, He fulfills the words of prophecy: Jesus, Messiah, Savior, King, is ready to officially arrive in Jerusalem, and we read:
“They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it. Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,
‘Praise God for the Son of David!
Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Praise God in highest heaven!’
The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. ‘Who is this?’ they asked. And the crowds replied, ‘It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.'”(Mt. 21:6-11)
Those who would in a few days time scheme to have Jesus crucified are indignant at the crowd’s jubilation. Jesus has now officially entered Jerusalem as Messiah and King, riding humbly on a donkey to signify that he is the true Son of David (I Kings 1:33-46), and the Pharisees despise his popularity and want to stifle the jubilation of the crowds:
But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!” He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!” (Luke 19:39-40)
When Jesus enters to the praise-filled uproar of the crowds, does the fulfillment of God’s words in Zechariah, set forth those hundreds of years earlier, happen on the exact day God declared it would?
“More than five hundred years earlier God had revealed to the prophet Daniel that 483 years after the command to rebuild Jerusalem the Messiah would come (Daniel 9:25). King Artaxerxes of Persia gave the command to rebuild Jerusalem in the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of his reign (Nehemiah 2:1). The Jews did not use a solar calendar as we do today, and in biblical prophecies the years are composed of 360 days (Revelation 11:2-3, 12:6, 13:5). The exact day of the month is not given, but if the command to rebuild Jerusalem was given on the first of Nisan, it was 483 years of 360 days later to the day that Jesus formally entered the city as Messiah. The prophesy likely was fulfilled to the day!” (The One Year Book of Christian History, “Messiah, King, and Lamb” by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten)
God’s ways are indeed different from ours: Jesus as Messiah-Savior-King arrives riding humbly on a donkey. Jesus as Messiah-Savior-King allows himself to be crucified on a cross by mere humans. But Jesus’ day of triumphal entry also happens exactly as God said it would. Oh follower of Christ, rejoice that His return will happen in precisely the same way. He’s coming back exactly as He said:
We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. (I Thess. 4:15-17)