Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—riding on a donkey’s colt. —Zechariah 9:9 (NLT)
There was unimaginable joy in Chicago when the Cubs broke their 108-year dry spell and won the 2016 baseball World Series. Grown men wept. Sportscasters were tongue-tied, a miracle in itself. After 108 years of frustration, of dashed hopes, of derision by fans everywhere who knew that, just as the sun would rise in the east, the Cubs could be counted on to blow a promising season, the Cubs defied all odds and won the thing.
The team had thought itself cursed by a long-dead angry fan and his pet goat; now the curse had been lifted.
When Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem just days before the Passover feast, it had been six hundred years since Zechariah’s prophecy. Six hundred years of war, exile, waiting and hoping, of generations growing up and dying without seeing Zechariah’s promise fulfilled.
Where was Israel’s king?
The present generation had at least been restored to their homelands, but they were not free. Every inch of the Holy Land was controlled by the Roman occupiers and their legion of rulers, judges, soldiers and petty officials. The Promised Land was not living up to God’s promise.
Where was Israel’s king?
But now, the people were becoming hopeful. There was a rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth, who was performing wonderful miracles and signs of God’s anointing. He had recently raised a man named Lazarus from the grave! It sounded like a child’s fantasy, but many claimed they had witnessed the miracle. Could this man, Jesus, be the promised King? Could this man, Jesus, break the Roman chains that bound God’s chosen people?
Five days before the celebration of the feast of unleavened bread, word spread that Jesus and his disciples were coming to Jerusalem. Crowds of the curious went out to meet him. Sick people approached him and begged for his healing touch.
They found him, at last, on the road into the city, riding on a donkey. No ranks of soldiers guarded him, no chariots carried him. He was dressed in a plain robe, dusty sandals on his feet, no crown, no jewels, just a face full of peace and confidence.
Something about that humble rabbi triggered a spontaneous celebration and an instantaneous recognition in the gathering crowd.
Here was Israel’s king!
They began to shout praises to God. They laid their cloaks on the road before him and cut branches from palm trees to wave over this historic procession.
Israel’s king was entering the city of God to claim his rightful throne! Hosanna! they shouted, which means “God save us!”
A large crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Hail to the King of Israel!” —John 12:12-13 (NLT)
The terrible long waiting was finally over. God’s promise to Zechariah was being fulfilled that very day. Blessed were those who had lived to see God’s triumph! The noisy procession moved down the dusty city streets, joined by hundreds more who wanted to see this Jesus for themselves.
Here at last, was the one who would save them! Here at last was Israel’s king!
The Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is also called Passover, was approaching. The leading priests and teachers of religious law were plotting how to kill Jesus, but they were afraid of the people’s reaction. —Luke 22:1-2 (NLT)
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