As they approached Jerusalem, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matthew 21:1-11)
I love it when some sort of new truth hits me about my Savior. This year, as I’ve taken my kids through Resurrection Eggs for Easter I realized something that I hadn’t before about the meaning of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey on Palm Sunday. The Resurrection Eggs booklet explains the significance of the donkey in this way:
What many people don’t know is that it was traditional for a king to ride on a donkey in times of peace. And although Jesus is the King of kings, God the Father wanted Him to bring peace to people when He came to earth in what is called “The First Coming”. Jesus’s peace comes as we repent or turn from our sin, and believe in the Son of God. And then as we continue to obey and trust Him as the Lord of our lives, we will experience His peace.
I love that with Jesus, every single action and word has deep meaning that can be looked into if we just take the time to seek Him….even something as surprising as an entrance on a donkey….it has more meaning than what we first see at the surface level. As I thought about Jesus’s first coming being all about bringing peace, my mind drifted quickly to his second coming and what that will look like. I know from scripture, that Jesus’s second coming will be drastically different. The book of Revelations gives the stark contrast…
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelations 19:11-16)
When Jesus comes back he will appear out of the clouds at the sound of a loud trumpet call (Matthew 24:27-31). This time, as the excerpt from Revelations detailed, he will ride in as a Conquering King, on a white horse, wearing a robe dipped in blood, also wearing many crowns, and having eyes that look like fire. Followed by heavenly armies, this time, he will have a sharp sword. What a contrast to His first entrance as King, gentle and bringing peace, riding in on a donkey. Jesus’s first coming brought forgiveness as He sacrificed His life and made payment for our sins. So what will His second coming bring about?
For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:31).
That’s a hard word to swallow, and I know that not many people like to think or talk about it. For me personally, I've realized that sometimes things in the Bible are hard to choke down at first. But scripture doesn’t lie.
All this is evidence that God’s judgement is right…this will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed (2 Thessalonians 1:5, 7-10).
He won’t be judging how well we performed in this life, whether we were a ‘good’ person or a ‘bad’ person.
He won’t be judging whether we stacked up enough good works to give us an acceptable heavenly resume.
He’ll be judging our relationship with Himself. Did we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Or not?
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21).
Did we believe that Jesus was the Son of God and the atoning sacrifice for our sins?
For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:40)
If this was our belief, did we live like it? Did we obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus? Did we repent of our sin, turn from it, and surrender our lives to following our Savior?
We know that we have come to know Him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:3-4)
The time will come when our relationship with Jesus will either be proved genuine, or proved false. And this judgement will decide where we spend eternity.
Until that day comes, the offer awaits. We are in the days after our Savior has come the first time, gentle, and riding on a donkey. Right now He offers eternal peace and salvation to all those who would believe. But another day is coming….a day of judgement that will bring us either eternal blessing or eternal punishment. Every day we get closer and closer to Jesus’s return. The Bible tells us to wait expectantly for that day… ‘and now, dear children, continue in Him, so that when He appears we may be CONFIDENT and UNASHAMED before Him at His coming (1 John 2:28)’. How I long to feel those emotions when I see my Savior coming out of the clouds. And the Bible promises that for those who have a relationship with Jesus, His second coming will be glorious, beautiful, and the culmination of all things hoped for. It will be a day of salvation.
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27-28)