The donkey plays a surprisingly significant role in the history of Israel’s kingdom. Entering into Jerusalem on the back of a colt, Jesus performs a symbolic action that manifests his true identity and the character of his kingdom.
Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, his trial, suffering, death, and resurrection, bring into full circle his journey to Jerusalem that was not shaped by Herod’s murderous threat but by his redemptive obedience to God’s will.
In the narrative of Mark’s gospel, Jesus’ journey to his cross in Jerusalem is interrupted by the incredible event of his Transfiguration. Peter’s rush to speech is characteristic of our frequent over-reliance upon words to process and respond to things that demand our silence and our wonder.
And so it is to Jerusalem that Jesus must go. Why Jerusalem? How would the scene have played out differently if the Pharisees, in their plotting, had simply arranged to have Jesus murdered on the road – on his way to the city? What if Jesus had never come to Jerusalem? To the temple? What if he died and even was resurrected while preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom in Galilee? What’s so special about Jerusalem?