The Triumphal Entry: A Living Parable - Part I
Why did Jesus enter Jerusalem on a donkey? What does it mean?
Note: You can view the text of all scripture passages used in this article by hovering over the verse with your mouse. For more info about this feature, see the article, "How To Discover the Power in the Parable".
On April 6, AD 32, Jesus, with much fanfare, rode into Jerusalem on a young donkey. This is the only time in the gospels that Jesus does not travel (on land) by foot. Why? What is happening here? What does it mean? This is a living parable. Instead of telling a story, Jesus delivers a message "live" and in living color.
Hidden in this humble donkey ride into Jerusalem are truths about who Jesus is, His purpose and the fulfillment of numerous prophecies, including a staggering 500 year old prediction of when Israel's Messiah (Christ) would present Himself as King! There are blessings waiting for us as we discover these hidden treasures. These blessings are what I refer to as "The Power in the Parable"! Let's go.
The Triumphal Entry is reenacted in the video above this article. Watch the video to get a sense of what this event was like.
Highlights Of The Triumphal Entry
Listed below are highlights of the Triumphal Entry taken primarily from Luke 19:26-44 and Mark 11:1-11.
- Jesus sends His disciples to find a donkey and her colt
- The disciples find the animals (tied to a vine) and bring them to Jesus
- Jesus begins His journey from Bethphage to Jerusalem riding the colt
- People join the processional, praising Jesus and tossing garments and branches in the pathway
- The Pharisees tell Jesus to stop the worship of the crowd
- Jesus responds by saying that if they stop, "...the rocks will cry out"
- As Jesus nears Jerusalem, He weeps over the city
- The procession enters Jerusalem to the chagrin of the Jewish leaders
- Jesus enters the temple, looks around and returns to Bethany (Mark 11:11)
Key Study Principle (Read); 2 Peter 1:19-23
The things Jesus did confirm Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah. We have to find and study those passages to better understand His ministry.
Searching For Donkeys
How do we interpret these images? What does it all mean? Well, we will begin this treasure hunt by searching the scriptures for references about a donkey and her young colt (or fold). Two passages stand out, Genesis 49:8-12 and Zechariah 9:9.
In Genesis 49, the Jewish patriarch Jacob, who is near death, prophesies about the future of his sons. When he speaks of Judah in Gen 49:8-12, , we discover some amazing predictions:, which are summarized below:
- Israel's Messiah will come from the tribe of Judah
- The last king of Israel will be the Messiah ("Shiloh")
- Many people will obey this King
- This King HAS a donkey and a colt bound (or tied) to a vine!
- The King's clothes shall be washed in wine
Shiloh, The Prince Of Peace
Jacob's prophecy is rich with Messianic symbolism (see the excellent video below, entitled "The Blessing Upon Judah", for additional insight into the prophecy). The term "Shiloh", in verse 8, is a combination of words and possibly a pun. One part of the word means "peace" and the other part signifies "right" or "ownership". Jacob is describing the true or rightful prince who will bring peace.. Shiloh, in this passage, is a coming King who will be known throughout the ages as "The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus plainly told His followers that He was the one in whom they could find peace and rest:
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
The Vine, The Wine, And The Lion
The events following the Triumphal Entry recorded in the gospels help us to identify 'the vine' and 'wine' in Jacob's prophecy. Jesus refers to Himself as the vine in John 15:1. We know that the wine used during the Last Supper (Luke 22:20), symbolizes the blood of Jesus that was shed for us on the cross. We can understand the meaning of the King's clothes being washed in wine (His blood) by carefully considering Rev 19:13! Jacob's prophecy predicts the coming Messiah will reign forever and establish peace and salvation by shedding His blood to cover our sins. This was the mission of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev 5:4-6).
The Promise Is To You, Your Children And To Them Far Off
The Hebrew term for donkey in this passage is the same one used in the Zech 9:9 passage (see below). The donkey is considered an unclean animal and is a type of the Gentile (non-Jewish) nations. Although Israel was chosen to be the carrier of God's Law and the nation through which the Saviour would come, He has always intended to pour out His blessings on all nations! Consider His promise to Israel in Gen. 26:3-4, "...and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed".
The King in Jacob's prophecy has a donkey and a colt bound to Him (the Vine). In the Triumphal Entry, these animals will be included. Special effort is made (Matt 2:12) to ensure that they are part of the processional. Why? Jesus is Israel's Messiah, but He came to die for all men (2 Cor 5:15) and to break down the wall between us (Ephesians 2:14-19). The Gentiles have been grafted into the tree that represents the nation of Israel (Romans 11:13-19). God created all nations and the fact that the Gentiles would recognize, come and worship Him, is predicted throughout scripture (e.g. Psalms 68:8-10)., Jesus riding on a donkey was a powerful living parable carrying a message for the ages (Acts 2:38-40).
A More Sure Word Of Prophecy (2 Pet 1:19-21)
Prophecy is God's way of letting us know that He alone is the author of the scriptures. Long before the Triumphal Entry, God inspired His prophets to give us a "parable" that could be deciphered by the diligent. He declares the end from the beginning (read Isaiah 46:9-10). The more that we contemplate these "parables" in the light of related Bible passages, the clearer they will become.
Zechariah Predicts The Triumphal Entry
Zechariah 9:9 is another amazing prophecy of the Triumphal Entry. This passage was written over 500 years before Jesus' ride into Jerusalem. Here we see a call for the people to rejoice and shout triumphantly. Why? The Messiah is presenting himself openly as Israel's King.
It is important to note that He is NOT coming as a warrior, but humbly on a colt, bringing salvation to his people. Jesus literally fulfills Zechariah's prophecy to the letter.
Again, we see God's fingerprint on the scriptures. Jesus did not ride the donkey because the journey was long or because He was tired. Every Old Testament prophecy concerning Him had to be fulfilled precisely. Matthew confirms Jesus' intent in Matt 21:3-5. The Triumphal Entry was a signal to those who treasured God's word that their Messiah and King had arrived!
This Is The End Of Part I
In Part II of this article, we will learn that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the exact day that was predicted by the prophet Daniel. We will also explore why Jesus wept over Jerusalem and why Israel did not know that it was time for their Messiah to appear.
References, Questions and Commentary
There is more treasure to be found! The Power in the Parable is released into our lives as we meditate in His word and dig for the jewels that have been hidden for us to discover. We have provided related articles and videos in the 'More Links' section below. We also encourage you to participate in our new discussion Forum. Here you find challenging questions about this topic. You can also post questions and your own commentary as well. You can also rate the posts. Our staff moderates all posts and will address them where appropriate. Note that posts that are off-topic or not respectful may be blocked.
Why Would A King Ride A Donkey?This article explores why Kings ride donkeys. It focuses on the power and promise of a king to bring peace. It also lists prophecies of the coming Prince of Peace.