It helps me to keep perspective, as the story of my life unfolds, if I keep the end in focus.
In working through Matthew 21 this week, I’m examining the different aspects of the biblical account known as “The Triumphal Entry.” You may or may not remember this story, but Jesus enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey. This is a fact that seems pretty pedestrian in itself, until you see the ramifications of said donkey.
In my research I’ve found that this donkey is not a sign of shame, as I’ve heard it said, but actually a symbol of honor. Ancient princes and kings would ride on donkeys. King David instructed that the soon to be crowned Solomon was to ride on a donkey as he was ascending to the throne of Israel (1 Kings 1:33). But even beyond honor, several scholars note that the donkey, specifically a colt, a foal of a donkey (as Jesus rode) is a sign of peace. This obviously makes sense with Solomon; he was a king whose tenure was marked by peace in Israel, after the many conquests of his father David.
Jesus enters Jerusalem as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), on his way to the cross, the place where He would make peace. I love the way it is articulated through Paul in Ephesians 2:
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.
This is a wonderful part of the story, the story which is my story and your story as we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ and become children of God.
But the story is not over. Christ will come again. And when He comes again it will look a lot different than it did on that day entering Jerusalem. He will still be riding, but when He comes again He won’t be riding a donkey, He’ll be riding a white horse.
There are many differences between a donkey and a horse, but I can’t tell you about most of them. The one I can tell you about is the difference between what they symbolize in biblical imagery. While a donkey signifies peace, the horse carries warriors into battle. A conquering King, a victorious warrior, a righteous judge, rides a horse.
The end of the story that helps keep life in perspective looks like this:
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
You and I will surrender to the prince of peace who entered on the donkey, or we’ll be on the wrong end of it all when He enters on the white horse. Surrender brings everything into perspective.