Zechariah 9:9 – Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
Matthew 21:1-11 - And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. 6And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 8And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. 10And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? 11And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
We recognize this as the account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This event took place on the first day of the week (Sunday) which the Christian church has come to call “Passion Week”, the week in which the suffering of Jesus reaches its climax with His death on Friday (Good Friday). We understand, of course, that Jesus’ suffering did not begin on this Sunday. It began the moment of His Incarnation, the moment the eternal Son of God took on the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary. At that moment when our Savior joined Himself to our human nature, He took on our sins and the curse due for them, and began to suffer the eternal wrath of God. And it is that passion (suffering) that we must especially think about in this time of year. Not merely what He suffered at the hands of wicked men, as awful as that was, but what He endured at the hands of His Father in heaven on behalf of the people given Him from before the foundation of the world.
The Heidelberg Catechism summarizes this passion of Christ well in Lord’s Day 15:
Question 37. What dost thou understand by the words, “He suffered”?
Answer. That he, all the time that he lived on earth, but especially at the end of his life, [a] sustained in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sins of all mankind: that so by his passion, as the only [b] propitiatory sacrifice, he might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation, and obtain for us the favor of God, righteousness and eternal life.
Question 38. Why did he suffer under Pontius Pilate, as judge?
Question 39. Is there anything more in his being crucified, than if he had died some other death?
Answer. Yes [there is]; for thereby I am assured, that he took on him the curse which lay upon me; for the death of the cross was [e] accursed of God.
And so when we read this prophecy of Zechariah about the church’s conquering King coming to her, and read of it being fulfilled on that “Palm Sunday” by our Lord, we understand why He came in such “lowly” and “meek” way. Not riding on a mighty, white steed but on the colt of an ass. Not coming to rout the Romans and re-take Jerusalem for the Jews, but to rout sin and Satan, death and the grave, and redeem His people for everlasting glory in the new creation! Not by the blood of the sword, but by the blood of the covenant (see Zech.9:11)! So that we slaves of sin might become “prisoners of hope’ (Zech.9:12). No wonder the Lord told the prophet to tell the people to shout for joy, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem”! These are the things we should dwell on today and this week. And this is the song we ought to sing, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (Rev.5:12).
May that joy and that song fill our hearts this Lord’s Day and this week. May God grant you a blessed day of rest and worship focused on Christ crucified and raised.