The Lord Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey. This detail of the narrative might be easy to skim past, but we must pause here in this part of the story of Christâ€™s ministry in order to fully appreciate the symbolic punch which this image carries.
The first thing to note is that the means of transportation which a king or governor entered a city held significance; if he came to wage war heâ€™d ride a mighty war-horse; whereas, if he came in peace, he would ride in on a donkey. Thus, Jesusâ€™ mode of entry is an assertion of his kingship; but He was inaugurating a kingdom of peace. He came in meekness, as a servant King. But His next act, after entering Jerusalem, might feel out of place. This peaceful King goes to the temple and drives out the moneychangers (Mt. 21:12-16).
But this episode is not out of place, because thereâ€™s a second layer to Jesus riding in on a donkey. A more ancient cultural cue is happening; we are being hearkened back to the days of the Judges. Those judges would ride through Israel on a white donkey (Jdg. 5:10, 12:14).
Jesus employed cultural symbolism from Israelâ€™s history to make a clear point. He was riding into Jerusalem like an Israelite judge of old. But remember, those judges were not solemn, black-robed judiciary bureaucrats; they fought Philistines with jaw-bones, they smuggled in knives to stab tyrant kings, they overthrew wicked regimes, destroyed favorite idols, and they delivered Godâ€™s people.
The triumphal entry is a vivid depiction of a King and Judge. A King coming into His peaceful kingdom, a Judge coming to bring judgement on evildoers. He comes to avenge and deliver Godâ€™s people. He comes to deliver us from the greedy moneychangers within us, in order that we might be houses of prayer, where the Prince of peace might reign in glory.