The King Has Come

Zechariah 9:9  Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Five hundred years after Zechariah penned this prophecy of Israel’s coming king, Jesus deliberately and self-consciously fulfilled it, and Christians have celebrated Palm Sunday ever since. All four gospel writers record the event as a fulfillment of prophecy and a public acknowledgement of Jesus’ exalted status, but John’s account contains at least two unique emphases.

First, John offers a strong hint that this man riding on the donkey is well more than just a new, human king; this is Yahweh Himself! The hint comes in the prophecy John quotes in John 12:15: “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” Similar to the other gospel writers, John sees Zechariah 9:9 being fulfilled in Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem; but unlike the other writers, John appends “Fear not, daughter of Zion” to his quote from Zechariah. Why? Probably because he sees another prophetic word being fulfilled here—namely, the prophecy in Zephaniah 3:14-16: “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion… The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil.” In paraphrasing these verses from Zephaniah and applying them to the Triumphal Entry, John indicates that this rider, this man Jesus of Nazareth, is in fact the LORD Himself in their midst! Israel’s long-awaited King has come, and it is Yahweh Himself!

Second, John hints at how and what this King has come to conquer: defeating death by His own death and resurrection. John refers to the throng of people as “the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead,” reminding his readers of Jesus’ power over death. He also writes that the disciples did not understand what was going on at first, but later, “when Jesus was glorified” (i.e., resurrected and ascended), the full significance dawned upon them. In other words, they didn’t understand His kingship correctly until after He had conquered death.

Today, let’s take this 2500-year-old prophecy to heart  and “Rejoice greatly! Shout aloud! For behold, your God has come, He is your King, and He alone has conquered sin and death!”