King of Peace

“King of Peace” (6 panels)
Zechariah 9:9 and Matthew 21:9
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
©️2020 by Gloria M. Chang

Exult greatly, O daughter Zion!
Shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!
Behold: your king is coming to you,
a just savior is he,
Humble, and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Zechariah 9:9

“Hosanna to the Son of David! 
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!”

Matthew 21:9 (RSV)

Humble King on a Royal Donkey

What is the telltale sign of Messianic kingship? In the exultant prophecy of Zechariah, a meek and humble savior will come riding on a donkey to restore Israel. The donkey signified royalty in ancient Near Eastern culture. Kings and rulers rode donkeys like modern dignitaries ride limousines. 

Comparing Judah to the kingly lion, Jacob prophesied that his son would “tether his donkey to the vine” (Genesis 49:11). In the book of Judges, wealthy nobles “ride on white donkeys” (Judges 5:10). Jair the Gileadite, who judged Israel for twenty-two years, “had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys and possessed thirty cities in the land of Gilead” (Judges 10:3-4). As the New American Bible notes, donkeys were “mounts signifying rank and wealth.”

Riding on a regal donkey, the Messianic king came to serve, not to be served (Matthew 20:28). The double insignia of royalty and humility stamped the King of Kings with the heavenly seal. From the time of his birth, this sign drew simple shepherds and learned Magi from the East to worship him at his manger in Bethlehem. Conquering hearts rather than nations, Jesus rode peacefully into Jerusalem astride an unbroken ass (Mark 11:2). By contrast, foreign kings of the earth steered horses in their quest for power and domination.

Zechariah’s prophecy continues: 

He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim,
and the horse from Jerusalem;
The warrior’s bow will be banished,
and he will proclaim peace to the nations.
His dominion will be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Zechariah 9:10

Poor Messiah on a Lowly Donkey

To the dominant culture, however, Christ’s entry into Jerusalem appeared anything but “triumphant.” The Greeks and Romans, who despised the ass, regarded the spectacle as backward and uncouth. From their perspective, cries of “Hosanna to the Son of David!” arose from the poor, Jewish masses to an even poorer Messiah.

A Light For Revelation to the Gentiles

Yet truth defies human logic. Christ, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32), received his eternal kingship from his Father by his conquest of sin and death on the cross. From Mary, Joseph, and the apostles to the Eastern Magi and Gentile disciples, the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church” joins the angels and saints in praise of “the Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 5:12).

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”

Revelation 21:6

2 Replies to “King of Peace”

  1. Donkey rider invites Hosanna
    His kingly reign yet to come.
    Palm branches swaying
    Donkey’s loud braying,
    Who is this human healer,
    Dead-rising power,
    Compassionate crier?
    His light shines in darkness
    But many were not able to see.

    1. “But who do you say that I am?” We all need to answer that question. May we receive the grace to “see” with the eyes of the Spirit.

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