Summary: This is so well preached on that I would like to ask the question: Why did Jesus not tell the disciples the name of the owner/owners of the Donkey
“On a donkey, you must be kidding!” Luke 21:28-44
Often there’s more to a story than meets the human eye.
And our Gospel reading in Luke 21 is no exception.
Indeed this is a story related in all four Gospels, which is unusual.
We have the Synoptic Gospels Matthew Mark and Luke that often cover the same ground with more or less detail.
John however doesn’t follow the scheme of the Synoptics
I have chosen Luke’s report of what is known as Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, for our Gospel reading.
To the Jewish readers of the Gospel, this Triumphal procession would have had a very special meaning.
Because it was very similar to a special ceremony that the Romans had called a Triumph which was granted to a very special and successful General.
Let me give you a bit of background
Background : A Roman triumph
The Roman triumph (triumphus) was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome.
It was held to publicly celebrate and sanctify the success of a military commander
i) who had led Roman forces to victory in the service of the state or
ii) one who had successfully completed a foreign war.
Romulus the legendary founder of Rome celebrated the first triumph ever
The Roman General Mark Antony had three triumphs and Julius Caesar and Augustus each had at least one triumph.
A Roman triumph was an impressive celebration and followed a set route.
The ceremony usually lasted the whole of a day.
1. The procession started with the leaders of the Roman Senate – that is the Roman parliament - leading the way.
2. They would be followed by trumpeters.
3. Next in the procession would be carriages containing the spoils of war – that is treasure taken from the conquered people and any slaves captured.
4. Then came the flute players, followed by the animals like oxen for sacrifice to the Roman gods.
5. Next came the leaders of the conquered enemy, in chains - forced to walk in front of the General.
And at the height of the ceremony when the procession would be going up Capitoline Hill in Rome – the leaders of the conquered enemy would be taken to an adjoining prison. There they would be executed.
6. Then the General’s own bodyguard followed by
7. The conquering General.
The General would ride in triumph in a gilded chariot led by white horses – /known as chargers. These symbolised WAR
He would be crowned with a laurel wreath – symbolising victory - and wear a purple tunic embroidered with palms under a purple toga embroidered with stars.
8. Then the General’s sons followed and finally
9. The General’s infantry would bring up the rear.
The ceremony would be a joyful occasion – a bit like a carnival, where all the inhabitants of Rome would come out to cheer the General.
At least it was a joyful occasion for the Romans but not necessarily for their prisoners.
The streets would be full of music, singing and general rejoicing.
The ceremony was designed to show
1. the strength of Rome,
2. its mission of conquest and domination, and
3. the courage of the soldiers.
So let me ask this Question:
How was the Jesus' Triumphal entry into Jerusalem , different from that of a Roman triumphal parade?
1. Jesus came on a donkey, not in a chariot pulled by white horses.
The charger symbolised war – but the donkey signified justice and peace.
In OT times, kings in Israel used to use donkeys to travel when they were dispensing justice through the land and also when they were travelling in peace
2. There were no captives paraded in front of Jesus - captives who if they had been in a Roman triumph - would then have been put to death.
Jesus’ whole mission was to bring life not death.
He came to free the captives not to enslave them and kill them
3. And ironically it was the King – Jesus who would die for the captives - just at the end of Holy Week on Good Friday.
So why did Jesus enter Jerusalem triumphantly and why did the Jews accept him?
The time of Jesus triumphal procession into Jerusalem was at the beginning of Passover
They were expecting a MESSIAH.
The word Messiah is a term meaning “a person who has been anointed by God as a Saviour for God’s people”.
Why did they want a Saviour – a Messiah?
Being a Jew in Israel in Jesus’ day was very much like a Frenchman in France during World War 2 during the German occupation
The Jews were second class citizens in their own country.
They were a people who had been conquered and were ruled by Rome.