He came riding in on a donkey. Not the most impressive sight when you think about. It probably looked quite silly. This grown man trying to balance on that donkey, well, a colt of a donkey actually. It is quite laughable really. I mean look at that face.
That right there should have been a hint… this guy is not what we think. We should have known right then and there that something was up. This guy would not be what we expected…
And what did people expect? A King from the line of the Great David riding in to free everyone from the oppressive Roman occupation. The Promised One, the Messiah, come to restore Israel to its glory days.
And so people joined in with the shouting
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Because they thought they knew what he was about. They thought they knew what he was up to. But they didn’t. We don’t. We think we know who he is, but we don’t.
Some people in the crowd were asking the right question…
“As he made his entrance into Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken. Unnerved, people were asking, “What’s going on here? Who is this?'”
Matthew 21:30 The Message
“Who is this?” is the right question to ask.
Jesus rode in, accepted the praise of the people, but it didn’t go to his head, because he knew where he was headed. He knew that he would not fulfill expectations in the way people thought. He knew that instead of ascending the throne of David, he would ascend the cross of thieves.
But this was the way to freedom from oppression… not just from Rome, but from sin and death itself. He would restore us to our glory, but it would be through him suffering disgrace, what would look like defeat.
And so, as he rode in on that donkey, as people shouted Hosanna, he knew that just as quickly these same lips would shout “Crucify Him!” He knew that that very donkey ride would take him on the strange, unexpected (to us), downward path of cross… death… seeming defeat.
Who is this indeed.
Lord Jesus, you come, and yet it is in a way that is strange and unexpected. You come in weakness and in humility. You come in submission. Though Lord over all you concede to the powers that be. You come in the laying down and the letting go. In your one moment of glory you come on a simple beast, a donkey, a sign of peace.
Not at all what we expect.
Who are you Jesus?
So strange and beyond comprehension. Your ways are never what we expect. It was that way then, it is that way now. We think we know you, but we still don’t. We still don’t get you and your strange, humble, downward path ways.
And yet we pray for your ways to be our ways. For your will to be our will. And when we pray this, we open ourselves to the Jesus we don’t get. We open ourselves to the Jesus who doesn’t work the way we expect. We open ourselves to the Jesus of the strange, downward way. We open ourselves to the Jesus who rode the donkey.
And this my friends, is a good thing. Because as Zechariah 9:9 declares:
“Shout and cheer, Daughter Zion!
Raise the roof, Daughter Jerusalem!
Your king is coming
a good king who makes all things right,
a humble king riding on a donkey, a mere colt of a donkey.” (The Message)
He comes in strange ways, beyond comprehension, beyond expectation, beyond understand, but all because he is the good king who knows how to make all things right. His strange, downward ways are the ways to make things right.
Though he may not be working like you expect, he is making ALL. THINGS. RIGHT.
We should have known… the moment we saw the donkey… he wouldn’t be who we expected.
This painting of Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday is part of a Manuel Baldemor exhibit