Matthew 21:1-11 (ESV)
21 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
Jesus told two of his disciples to go into the nearby village, find a donkey with her colt and bring them both back to him. He instructed them to say to anyone that questioned them, “The Lord needs them.” Two men marching into a city and walking out with a donkey and colt would be very strange and suspicious. Many believe that “the Lord needs them” was a prearranged code between Jesus and the animals’ owner should anyone notice what the disciples were doing. Jesus then rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as the prophet Zechariah had predicted hundreds of years before. This act demonstrated that Jesus truly was the King of the Jews. At the same time, according to Zechariah, not only was he the King, but he also was the humble King. Normally, when a king entered his capital city, he would come in pomp and glory, riding on a war-horse. The donkey was known as the “beast of burden,” signifying its lowliness. A king riding into his capital city on a donkey made no sense. When Jesus did this, he displayed his mission to those watching. Jesus didn’t come as Messiah to overtake the Romans with armies and weapons. Instead, he came to bring peace between God and man through his impending and ultimate sacrifice on the cross.