Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! And cry aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king is coming to you; he is righteous and able to deliver, he is humble and riding on a donkey, a colt, the offspring of a donkey.Zechariah 9:9 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
I know. This is more of an appropriate post for springtime. It works for this season simply for the fact that we ought to know Who it is Whose birth we celebrate.
This is a familiar prophecy to lag of us. I’m reading in Matthew of the Messiah’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem just before He was crucified.
When they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, on the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go over into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them.’ And he will send them immediately.”Matthew 21:1–5 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
All this was done to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Look, your King is coming to you, humble, and sitting on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
I couldn’t help but to notice, “he will send them immediately.”
Them… That word. There was more than one animal that was sent. It says a donkey and a colt.
When I read Scripture, I like to pay attention to the precision of the text. Oft times, it has caused me to rethink what I thought I knew Scripture teaches. What is God trying to convey here?
I am going to say something about the translations. I use the MEV for reading. It is sufficient for that task. I will use others to grasp the nuances in meaning or to be aware of the biases of the translators.
When comparing the translation of Matthew’s quotation of the Zechariah passage with how the translators actually rendered Zechariah 9:9… There are some differences. Notably, the Zechariah passage could be vaguely referring to one or two animals in the MEV. As rendered it isn’t clear. In other translations, we see the conjunction. The donkey would be joined with the colt. What is literally written in Zechariah is this: “and riding on an ass, And on a colt — a son of she-asses.” The literal rendering says Jesus is riding on two donkeys.
Think about that.
No earthly king would present himself on a donkey if the more majestic horse was available. Jesus riding on a donkey would immediately bring to mind lowliness and humility. It would be without comeliness, that is it wouldn’t be attractive.
I know the picture we have conjured in our mind’s eye of this event. Consider this: Jesus did ride into Jerusalem. He did it on a date precisely foretold almost 500 years earlier by a prophecy shown to and recorded by Daniel. Jesus expected the Israelis than to know of their visitation.
The disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their garments on them, and He sat on them.Matthew 21:6–7 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
He sat on them.
This is as precise a picture of the presentation of the Messiah as Daniel’s dating. The King would be riding on an ass and a colt of she-asses. This was foretold by Zechariah. We see it fulfilled precisely in Matthew.
The presentation of the lowly Servant-King riding on the back of a wobbly donkey barely able to support Him. A colt who needed help from his own mother.
Now… How many kings are presented on two donkeys like that?