Wednesday of Holy Week – Zechariah 9:9-12 

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
    righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
    and the war horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
    and he shall speak peace to the nations;
his rule shall be from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.
11 As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
    I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
12 Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
    today I declare that I will restore to you double.

Have you ever ridden a donkey? My parents, in their retirement, bought some property in Missouri and my mother got herself a couple of donkeys. I had a parishioner in Oregon who also had a donkey he would bring to Palm Sunday services. There is no way to look regal and elegant on a donkey. A human being is just a little too big to really fit on the back of a donkey. Your legs stick out and hang too closely to the ground. The animal has ears that are just too large. And they bray. A donkey braying is nothing like the whinny of a horse. You cannot but smile.

Why does Jesus ride a donkey into Jerusalem? In the ancient world if you wanted to look like a king, you rode a horse, especially a big horse. That made you look like a king. But not in Israel. In Deuteronomy 17, God had warned the people about appointing a king. If they did, He said, the king should not have horses. David seems to have taken this to heart. We read in I Kings 1 that when David was old and dying, he had Solomon placed upon his mule as the sign that he would be next king.  In Israel, unlike the rest of the world, kings rode on donkeys or mules.

Pontius Pilate and his Roman legionaries, unaware of Jewish culture and history, watched as Jesus rode in and thought him nothing but another peasant on a donkey. What was all the fuss about? The Pharisees and Sadducees, however, knew their Old Testament well and could not have missed what Jesus was doing. And they were afraid. They had reason to be afraid. God’s Messiah came to usher in a kingdom which fills the world. Through forgiveness he has set us free from the waterless pit of our guild. From the stronghold of God’s Word, we are the prisoners of hope, looking forward to the fulfillment of all of God’s promises, including the day of Christ’s glory when the battle bow is broken, and he speaks peace to the nations.

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