We’ve discussed this aspect of prophecy before, but here’s a quick review: The prophets, when seeing the future, often saw it as a “mountaintop view.” Imagine you’re at the base of a mountain, and you see the top of the mountain in front of you. There’s another mountain directly behind it, with a valley in between them. That valley might be incredibly deep. But you can’t tell how deep it is: All you can see are the two mountain peaks.
Today’s passage is a perfect illustration of this. Let’s take a look.
Verse nine is pretty famous, with good reason. It describes the coming of the Messiah into Jerusalem, and the Gospels make it very clear that the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday was the fulfillment of the verse. The residents of Jerusalem, excited by the news that this famous prophet was coming (maybe to kick out the Romans?), laid down their palm fronds in front of him as he entered the city, as he was wiping away his tears. He knew what would happen in less than 24 hours.
If you’ve heard what I’m about to say, then I apologize. The prediction/fulfillment of the Messiah riding in on a donkey was very significant. If a king was riding into a city on a donkey, that meant he was coming in peace, perhaps to just visit or inspect it. But if he came into it riding on a white horse. . .well, only a conquering king would do that. A rider on a white horse is not coming for a friendly visit. He’s there to make war and then put his boots on the necks of his enemies and to show all those assembled just who’s Boss.
And that’s the point of the rest of the passage. Here we have the same situation as in Isaiah 61:1-7: The prophet is talking about the First Advent, and then before the ink is dry on that verse, the next one is talking about his Second Coming with nary a pause. The King who comes into Jerusalem riding humbly on a donkey is next presented as the conquering King who intervenes and triumphs over his enemies and—just as important—rescues and vindicates the people who really belong to him.
I love this passage, because the lessons we learn from it have huge repercussions. Israel in Jesus’ day saw him riding into Jerusalem, and a lot of them apparently were willing to proclaim him as King. But then he didn’t meet their preconceptions of what the Messiah was supposed to be, and they turned their back on him and chose a murderer in his place. And they learned to regret that for a very very very long time.
The parallel to our time is pretty obvious, at least to me. Right now, Jesus is offering himself to the world and to us as the humble King riding on a donkey. He doesn’t openly force himself on you: He’s gentle and mild and extremely soft-spoken. If you keep telling him to leave you alone, eventually he’ll accede.
But one day, my friend. . . you’ll meet him again. And at this second meeting, he won’t be nearly as pleasant. He won’t be riding a donkey then. He won’t be the “meek and mild” Jesus you might've seen in paintings. His face will be the most frightening thing you’ve ever seen, far worse than you’ve ever imagined.
Please pardon me for repeating myself, but it’s highly relevant: You have a choice about meeting Jesus. You can meet him now as your Savior, or you can meet him later as your Judge.
If you’ve never received Christ as Savior and Boss, or if you’re not sure if you have or haven’t, please read this. Please. Today.
If you do belong to him, there’s a lesson for you as well. Right now, the Lord might be speaking to you in a quiet voice. He’s appealed to you through his word and his soft-spoken Spirit, or through the earnest counsel of godly friends. If you ignore those quiet warnings, he’ll have no choice but to resort to more drastic measures and much less pleasant methods. He loves you too much to do otherwise.
Lord Jesus, please make my spirit and my “ears” as sensitive as they can be. Your quietest murmurings, I want to hear loud and clear as a bell. Please.