There’s more to Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey then a fulfillment of Zachariah 9:9. Jesus’ actions replay a crucial moment in Israel’s monarchy, the day Solomon, the son of David, was crowned king of Israel.
1 Kings 1 records the important events surronding Solomon’s coronation.
When David was old his eldest son, Adonijah, took advantage of his father’s weakness and united publically with the king’s men. And thus declared his intentions to the throne.
But a few were troubled by his plans. Bathsheba, for one, went to David and reminded him of the promise he made to her and her son.
The king then took an oath: “as surely as the Lord lives who has delivered me out of every trouble, I will surely carry out today what I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me and he will sit on my throne in my place.”
He instructed them.
set Solomon my son on my own mule and take him down to the Gihon. There have Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel. Blow the trumpet and shout, ‘Long live King Solomon!’
And they did as he said.
Then they sounded the trumpet and all the people shouted, “Long live King Solomon. And all the people went up after him, playing flutes and rejoicing greatly, so that the ground shook with the sound.
But of course the news didn’t make everyone glad. Adonijah and his supporters fled from their feast in fear.
The Significance of the Coronation.
The fact that the elements of the coronation are repeated three times in 1 Kings 1(1:32-35; 38-40; 43-48) indicates that they are very important. This is the first dynastic transfer of power in Israel’s history. An event the nation could not easily forget. And while I do not know for certain, it would not surprise me to discover that these elements, including the entry into Jerusalem on a mule, became standard practice for all subsequent davidic coronations. Zechariah 9:9 may hint at the continuation of this practice.
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Certainly the people present at Jesus’ entry that day understood his actions. There interpretation of the events is evident from their cries recorded in each of the four gospels. In Matthew they shout,
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Mark records them saying,
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!
In Luke we hear them say,
Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!
And in John they cry,
Blessed is the King of Israel.
That the public recognizes Jesus’ claim to the throne is significant because no where in the gospels does Jesus openly declare himself king. Peter’s confession in Matthew 16:13-19, Mark 8:27-30 and Luke9:18-21 is met by Jesus with a blessing as well as a command for them not to repeat this to anyone. (Matthew 16:13-20). While it may be likely that some in the crowd remembered this small passage in Zachariah, Its more likely that they looked upon Jesus’ actions with one eye on the past and remembered how the first ‘son of David’ was crowned king in Jerusalem.
Jesus actions that day were symbolic. By riding a donkey into Jerusalem, Jesus declared his right to throne.