Read John 12:9-19
“And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it.” John 12:14
After raising Lazarus from the dead, word spread around about Jesus. He not only heals the sick but now he also raises the dead! Through this sign, Jesus was communicating that he has power over death – something that only belongs to God. This sign was also foreshadowing the greatest sign to come – his power over his own death. Thus the raising of Lazarus was the prompting of Jesus’ heroic arrival in Jerusalem as “many Jews were believing in Jesus” (v. 11) on account of Lazarus and as those believing were “continuing to bear witness” (v. 17). So as Jesus came into Jerusalem that Sunday, the people hailed him as a king – the coming Messiah. But note that Jesus refused to enter in on a white stallion but rather on a colt of a donkey, which as John notes, fulfilled the prophecy about him. The greatest significance of Jesus’ “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem was that it inaugurated Jesus’ “hour.” Up until this time, Jesus had told his disciples on numerous occasions that his hour has not yet come (see John 2:4; 7:6, 8, 30; 8:20). This hour was used in reference to Jesus’ death – his glorification on the cross (see John 12:23; 13:1; 17:1). By entering into Jerusalem that Sunday morning he was obediently traveling to the cross so that the hour for which he came would be fulfilled. His humility of riding in on a donkey was consistent with the kind of Messiah that he truly was – one who humbled himself to death on a cross.
This Palm Sunday reflect on Jesus’ humility and singleness of mind and purpose. Though Jesus was hailed as king, he still chose to ride a young donkey. Though people were throwing down palm branches, Jesus had a single focus – the cross. Many of the people who hailed Jesus on Sunday rejected him on Friday because he did not fit into their idea or model of Messiah. Therefore, heed the words of Paul in Philippians 2:3-8:
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”