Matthew points to another way in which Jesus fulfills the Old Testament. The quotation in verse 5 comes from Zechariah 9:9, and "Daughter Zion" is a reference to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you; He is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Jerusalem is often referred to in the Bible as Zion, because Mount Zion is the highest, most prominent hill there. Zechariah prophesied to God's people after they had come back from the exile. This remnant of Israelites had come back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and re-establish the city. It was a time of joy and of struggle. God's people had repeatedly seen the tragedy of failed kings, but Zechariah held out hope, promising a day when God would send His King. Zechariah 9:9 begins with a note of joy in light of the coming King. It specifies the way He would arrive, and the fulfillment we see here is truly amazing: 500 years before Jesus came, God promised that a donkey and a colt would be available the week before Passover for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem. You don't write a script like that unless you are God!
Unlike Israel's other kings, Jesus would be "righteous." Moreover, this righteous King would be “victorious on behalf of His people, for He is the Savior King. This is why the crowds were crying "Hosanna" (Matt 21:9), which literally means, "Save now.”
This was Passover week, a time when the population of Jerusalem would swell up to five or six times its usual size. People were coming to celebrate this feast of remembrance, a feast that reminded them of the time when God rescued their fathers from slavery in Egypt and brought salvation through the blood of a lamb. Now Jesus, the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36) and the One who was inaugurating a new and greater exodus (Matt 2:13-15), was coming into Jerusalem during Passover week. This was no coincidence.
Jesus did not come arrogantly, but humbly. Unlike other earthly rulers, He was meek (see also Isa 11:4; Matt 5:5). Most people in the West today don't understand the concept of a king. Many of the examples we see of monarchies are monarchies in symbol only. But in most places throughout history, a king would be honored with reverence and fear at his coronation. He would be dressed in ornamental, regal attire, surrounded by splendor and pageantry. Jesus, on the other hand, was surrounded by lowly Galileans as he came into the city not with riches, but in poverty; not in majesty, but in meekness. He came humbly and mounted on a donkey.
It was not uncommon for a king to ride on a donkey; the key is when a king would ride on a donkey. If a king was going to war, he would ride on a warhorse as a picture of power. When he was not at war, the king would ride on a donkey as a picture of peace. The fact that Jesus came riding on a donkey speaks to His mission as the One who came to make it possible for us to have peace with God. When Luke records this account he notes how the crowds cried out, "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (Luke 19:38). Then as Jesus drew near the city and wept, He said, "If you knew this day what would bring peace. (Luke 19:42). This message of peace is good news for those who are by nature enemies of God (Rom 5:10).
Jesus brought a message of peace: peace between God and man and peace between men. We are reconciled to God through Christ, an We are reconciled to one another in Christ. This message was very different from what many people would have expected. They were looking for a ruler to come wielding his power and to overthrow Israel's oppressors. God's King, however, did not come wielding political power, But bringing spiritual peace. He is the “Prince of Peace" (Isa 9:6).
The peace that Jesus came to bring was not just for Israel. Zechariah had predicted that the coming King would "proclaim peace to the nations," and that "His dominion will extend from sea to sea .... to the ends of the earth" (Zech 9:10; emphasis added). He is the global King, Jesus rules over every leader, king, prime minister, and president in the world, and the salvation that He accomplished is good news for all peoples.
**This Daily devotion was modified from Exalting Jesus in Matthew from the Christ-Centered Exposition commentary series, by David Platt.