For one thing, this prophecy about how the King was coming. On a donkey? What conquering king rides into his conquered territory on such an animal? He parades or gallops in on a mighty steed instead–as Revelation 19:11-16 pictures Christ’s future appearance.
Donkey riding has served often as a sign of peace/truce. After all, how well do you suppose a donkey would behave in battle? And there’s something humbling about it, as Zechariah 9:9 even notes. I just read recently about how, in the First Crusade, so many horses died that knights resorted to other animals as mounts, like oxen–but that this so humiliated some of them that they turned and went home.
Then, He’s weeping, again (Lk 19:41-44). As He wept before Lazarus’ tomb, now as He nears Jerusalem He weeps over it–and prophesies its horrible destruction! Odd thing for a conqueror to do on a “triumphal entry.”
Deliverance from What?
Other little truths would have nagged the Christ-followers, if they’d known or acknowledged them. Like Christ’s naming three decades before (Mt 1:21). Why did God then command the name Jesus? Because He would save His people from…Rome? No, “from their sins.” The wildly elated crowd in the Entry procession probably were thinking political salvation instead.
The verse that follows Psalm 118:25-26 (Ps 118:27) would have given them pause, too, if they’d considered. But it’s highly unlikely they were thinking of Christ Himself as the sacrifice! Yet when He entered the Temple and taught there in the next few days, as the leaders’ fear of the crowds now allowed, His parables contained pictures, hints, like the vinedressers killing the owner’s beloved son so they could get the inheritance (Lk 20:13-15).
The Turned Tide
What turned the crowd so quickly against Jesus a few days later? Was it a different crowd entirely, or did the sight of Jesus being dragged around like a helpless victim so disappoint them that it was easy for the chief priests to stir them up to call for His horrible execution (Mk 15:11)?
Jesus kept telling His disciples it was necessary that He be betrayed and put to death. He had pointed out and explained many ancient prophecies that foretold that part of the story. But they couldn’t process it, couldn’t even begin to accept it.
What about us? Are there negative parts of God’s promises we conveniently leave out? Like 2 Timothy 3:12; Matthew 10:34-39 and other similar verses?
Part of the Christian life is suffering for righteousness’ or Christ’s name’s sake. We experience so much blessing in our western world that we may be unprepared and shocked when pain, trial, and even persecution come. Let us, let me, remember that God doesn’t promise just a pleasant walk in the park with Him, but a life that will stretch and grow us more and more into His image. Let us make sure we are putting our faith in the Truth, and the True God and Christ, and not some imaginary picture our minds paint.