It is still cold in the mornings and evenings, but the days are getting warmer. It will gradually get even warmer towards the spring equinox. And Easter Day, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus, is approaching. This year, Easter is 9 April. Let us learn from the Gospel of John what Jesus taught and did before he died on the cross and rose from the dead.
Travelling towards the city of Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples met the tax collector Zacchaeus in the town of Jericho and healed Bartimaeus, who was blind. In the village of Bethany, Lazarus’ sister Mary showed her love for Jesus by anointing his feet with the fragrant oil of nard. Finally, the day came for Jesus to enter the city of Jerusalem.
It was just at the time when the Jewish people were gathering in the city of Jerusalem for the Passover. The Passover is a festival commemorating the deliverance of the people of Israel from the land of Egypt, where they were enslaved, by the power of God. The people who had gathered from all over the country saw Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem and praised Jesus, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” “Hosanna!” means “Save us!” And “the King of Israel” probably means that the people thought of Jesus as a strong king like King David in Old Testament times. In New Testament times, the Jewish nation was ruled by a strong country, the Roman Empire. Therefore, the people were looking forward to the appearance of a strong king who would fight against the Roman Empire and defeat its armies. They were probably expecting Jesus to be such a strong king.
Was Jesus a strong king who would wage war and defeat the armies of the Roman Empire? No, he was not. Jesus was a peacemaking king who died on the cross to atone for people’s sins and rose to give them eternal life. He was the one who, by his cross, enabled people to have peace with God and peace amongst themselves.
By entering the city of Jerusalem sitting on a donkey’s colt, Jesus showed that he was the king who made peace through the cross. In Jesus’ time, the kings of the world rode splendid horses that could run fast as a sign of strength. This was a sign that they had the power to lead an army to war and defeat anyone who opposed them. But Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem riding on a weak-looking colt. And this had been prophesied beforehand by the Old Testament prophet Zechariah. Verse 15 of today’s Bible says: “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” are the words of that prophecy. It was prophesied in advance by the prophet that the Saviour would be a peacemaking king, not a war-making king.
Jesus was crucified and died, but he rose and ascended to heaven, where he is now watching this world from heaven. And to those in power who try to rule people by military might, he says: “Stop what you are doing!” And to the people of the world he calls, “Follow me, who entered Jerusalem sitting on a donkey’s colt.”