Jesus mounts a donkey and rides into Jerusalem surrounded by this huge, noisy crowd. We do not have any other record of Jesus riding anywhere, do we? This is the only place it happens.

It isn’t because Jesus is tired that he is riding on the donkey. He had deliberately sent his disciples into the city to get it on this particular day.23 He wanted to make a point.

But what point?

Jesus is here confronting the community by his actions. He is deliberately entering the jurisdictions of Annas and Caiphas the Jewish high priests, and of the Jewish ruling council (the Sanhedrin), and of Pontius Pilate the governor who represented all the might of the Roman Empire. Later, Pilate will ask him, “Who in the world are you?” At one point he will ask directly, “Are you then the King of the Jews? Let’s just get this sorted out, Jesus. Are you the King of the Jews?” And Jesus replies, “You have said so.”24

But what kind of king is he? What kind of king rides on a donkey? What kind of king wears a crown that is woven with thorns? What kind of king is dressed up in someone else’s robe and made to look foolish and a figure of fun and is cruelly mocked by his ill-disciplined military custodians?25 Here we see the great paradox that confronts any intelligent reader of the Bible.

It is also the paradox that threw off many of the people who were looking for the coming one. They cried, “Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success!”26 But then they witnessed a whole series of scenes in which Jesus was “despised and rejected . . . a man of sorrows . . . acquainted with grief.”27 What possibility was there that he could bring salvation, safety, and success when he could not apparently secure his own safety? His ministry had led him to such an ignominious end.

Alistair Begg and Sinclair B. Ferguson, Name above All Names (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013).

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