It was Sunday—the day we now call Palm Sunday. Without a doubt, this wasn’t Jesus’ first visit to Jerusalem. As a devout Jew, He would’ve gone to the city every year for the three great feasts (Luke 2:41–42; John 2:13; 5:1). In the past three years, Christ had also ministered and taught in Jerusalem. But this Sunday His coming into the city was radically different.
By riding a young donkey into Jerusalem at a time when thousands of worshipers were coming into the city, Jesus was the center of attention (Matthew 21:9–11). Why would He take the place of prominence before thousands of people when for the past three years He’d deliberately kept a low profile? Why would He accept the people’s proclamation that He was King just five days before His death?
Matthew says that this took place to fulfill a five-hundred-year-old prophecy (Matthew 21:4–5) that God’s chosen king would come into Jerusalem “righteous and victorious, [yet] lowly and riding on a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9; see also Genesis 49:10–11).
This was a truly unusual way for a triumphant king to enter a city. Conquering kings normally rode on mighty stallions. But Jesus wasn’t riding a warhorse. This reveals what kind of King Jesus is. He came in meekness and lowliness. Jesus came not for war, but for peace, establishing peace between God and us (Acts 10:36; Colossians 1:20–21).