Our reading for Tuesday, April 16, 2019 is Zechariah 9:9 and 10.
9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. – NIV
One of the ways Matthew’s account of the “Triumphant Entry” of Jesus into Jerusalem differs from that of Mark’s and Luke’s is his alluding to this passage from the prophet Zechariah. Only John in his later accounting of Jesus’ life and ministry includes this reference. Matthew makes this connection for the purpose of witnessing to the Jewish community regarding his faith in Jesus.
Those of Jewish background were steeped in the Old Testament and discerned from the writings of the prophets the hope of God sending a Messiah who would save and restore the nation of Israel. While they believed God would send this Savior most viewed him as a political figure. As I mentioned in yesterday’s devotion on the subject of the Triumphant Entry from Mark’s account it should be self-evident that Jesus intended to fulfill this prophecy to provide witness to the kind of Savior he would be. He confirmed to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, upon being questioned whether he considered himself a king, saying “Yes, I am a king, but my kingdom is not of this world.”
Had Jesus entered the city riding on a white stallion he would have been making a political statement and should have been considered a threat. But Jesus rode upon the back of a donkey which the prophet Zechariah had predicted. If Zechariah predicted this then how could it be that the Jewish populous and religious authorities misunderstood his purpose and expected him to exert himself as a political revolutionary? The confusion comes from the fact that the Messiah is spoken of in political terms. There are passages which disclose the promised Messiah would one day sit on the throne of King David and rule the world.
The misunderstanding comes from the failure to recognize the progressive unfolding of God’s plan. The passages the Jews lifted up are those which spoke of the final solution when Christ would come a second time. The first coming was to be a spiritual and moral Savior and the second as the Lord of all nations. They desired a political and military solution to their circumstance of being an occupied territory.
So how it was the Jews neglected the messages foretelling of Jesus’s first coming? The answer is that by our sinful nature even believers focus and project onto the scriptures and Christ the outcomes we desire to see. We do not like to wait for God to progressively fulfill his plan; we want things immediately. While I can understand the frustration when evil seems to prevail, yet God discloses a progressive plan in order to allow time for us to be convinced of faith in God and evidence transformation by waiting and working to assist in fulfilling God’s promises.
We, as those Jews in Jerusalem of Jesus’ final day, impose upon our faith our personal agendas. Jesus died and rose again in order that we would voluntarily choose to be more than believers, but disciples of Jesus Christ. To be true disciples we must be disciplined in discernment of God’s will and committed to following him by our obedience. The fact Jesus chose to ride into the city on a donkey, a peaceful beast of burden, served as witness to the crowds and religious authorities that Jesus came not to force compliance to God’s will but extend an invitation to receive him as the Lord of Life.
The question for us to answer is how we today in our time impose our agendas upon Christ and our religious practice and pursuits? Are we disciplined morally through our obedience to what God has revealed? Are we disciplined in the interpretation and application of scripture so we can discern correctly how we should live for Jesus? Are we pursuing and living the truth or have we reduced faith to what is convenient?
Should our answer be “No!” then we are no better off than the crowd that greeted Jesus on his way to town. We then become misinformed, misled and corrupted. The crowd did not perceive of the truth, was closed to the leading of the Holy Spirit and contributed to Jesus’ death. Their failure was meant by Christ to be a witness to us so we can accept Jesus as he is and participate in his unfolding plan to transform the world.
Blessings! Pastor Brian Homan