They Did Jehovah’s Will
Jesus Is Hailed as Messiah and King!
THE noisy crowd entering Jerusalem on Nisan 9, 33 C.E., took many Judeans by surprise. Though it was not unusual to see people streaming into the city before the Passover, these visitors were different. The central figure among them was a man riding upon the colt of an ass. The man was Jesus Christ, and the people were spreading out garments and palm branches before him as they shouted: “Save, we pray, the Son of David! Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah’s name! Save him, we pray, in the heights above!” Upon seeing the crowd, many who were already in Jerusalem were moved to join the procession.—Matthew 21:7-9; John 12:12, 13.
Even though he was now being hailed, Jesus knew that trials awaited him. Why, in just five days, he would be put to death in this same city! Yes, Jesus knew that Jerusalem was hostile territory, and he staged his conspicuous entry into the city with that very thought in mind.
An Ancient Prophecy Fulfilled
In 518 B.C.E., Zechariah foretold Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He wrote: “Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem. Look! Your king himself comes to you. He is righteous, yes, saved; humble, and riding upon an ass, even upon a full-grown animal the son of a she-ass. . . . And he will actually speak peace to the nations; and his rulership will be from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.”—Zechariah 9:9, 10.
So Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Nisan 9 fulfilled Bible prophecy. It was no random event but was carefully planned. Earlier, while just outside Jerusalem, Jesus had instructed two of his disciples: “Be on your way into the village that is within sight of you, and you will at once find an ass tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. And if someone says anything to you, you must say, ‘The Lord needs them.’ At that he will immediately send them forth.” (Matthew 21:1-3) But why did Jesus want to ride into Jerusalem on an ass, and what was the significance of the crowd’s reaction?
A Message Regarding Kingship
A visual image is often more powerful than the spoken word. Thus, at times Jehovah had his prophets enact their message to reinforce their prophetic message. (1 Kings 11:29-32; Jeremiah 27:1-6; Ezekiel 4:1-17) This highly visual means of communication left an indelible impression on the mind of even the most hardhearted observer. In a similar way, Jesus enacted a powerful message by riding an ass into the city of Jerusalem. How?
In Bible times the ass was used for noble purposes. For example, Solomon rode to his anointing as king on his father’s “she-mule,” a hybrid offspring of a male ass. (1 Kings 1:33-40) So for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem on an ass would mean that he was presenting himself as a king.* The actions of the crowd reinforced this message. The group, no doubt largely composed of Galileans, spread out their garments before Jesus—a gesture reminiscent of the public announcement of Jehu’s kingship. (2 Kings 9:13) Their reference to Jesus as “the Son of David” underscored his legal right to rulership. (Luke 1:31-33) And their use of palm branches evidently showed their submission to his kingly authority.—Compare Revelation 7:9, 10.
So the procession that came into Jerusalem on Nisan 9 sent out the clear message that Jesus was God’s appointed Messiah and King. Of course, not all were happy to see Jesus presented in this way. The Pharisees in particular thought it grossly inappropriate for Jesus to be showered with such royal honor. “Teacher,” they demanded, no doubt with anger in their voices, “rebuke your disciples.” Jesus replied: “I tell you, If these remained silent, the stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:39, 40) Yes, God’s Kingdom was the theme of Jesus’ preaching. He would boldly proclaim this message whether people accepted it or not.
Lesson for Us
It took great courage for Jesus to enter Jerusalem in the manner foretold by the prophet Zechariah. He knew that in doing so he was incurring the wrath of his enemies. Before his ascension to heaven, Jesus commissioned his followers to preach the good news of God’s Kingdom and to “make disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) To accomplish this work also takes courage. Not all are happy to hear the message. Some are indifferent to it, while others oppose it. Some governments have placed restrictions on the preaching work or have banned it outright.
Still, Jehovah’s Witnesses realize that the good news of God’s established Kingdom must be preached, whether people listen or refrain from doing so. (Ezekiel 2:7) As they continue to perform this lifesaving work, they are reassured by Jesus’ promise: “Look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matthew 28:20.
Mark’s account adds that the colt was one “on which none of mankind has yet sat.” (Mark 11:2) Evidently, an animal that had not yet been put to use was especially suitable for sacred purposes.—Compare Numbers 19:2; Deuteronomy 21:3; 1 Samuel 6:7.