When voting for political leaders we don’t often ask: “Which candidate is most gentle?” We are drawn to leaders who appear strong and assertive. We think the candidate who is tough and aggressive will be the most effective leader. Gentleness is a trait we appreciate in caregivers, but consider a shortcoming in leaders. We fear a gentle leader will get run over by opposition and not get much done.
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday He fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah that said, “See, your king comes to you; gentle and riding on a donkey” (Matthew 21:5). Your King Jesus did not come loud, assertive and full of boasting. Your King came gentle.
Roman leaders would enter a city on a chariot being pulled by large white stallions. They didn’t ride a donkey. The chariot and the large horses looked impressive. They also looked intimidating and were not something people were comfortable getting near. A donkey did not strike terror and fill the crowd with awe. People were comfortable getting close to a king on a donkey.
When the Romans made their grand entrance they would often drag behind them chained opponents they had defeated in battle who were now their captives. They were giving the message: “This is what happens to any who oppose us.”
Jesus did not have captives trailing behind Him as He entered Jerusalem. Instead He entered Jerusalem to willingly become a captive. His purpose was to become a prisoner in chains who would suffer the punishment reserved for the most guilty of criminals, all in order to set us free.
Jesus is the leader who “was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). He is the Lion of Judah who was willing to become a gentle Lamb. We need the gentle Jesus, who was willing to be the lamb who went to the slaughter to pay for our sins.
We, often, are drawn more to ones who resemble the Roman emperors on their chariots, rather than ones who follow the example of gentle Jesus on a donkey. The loud, assertive leader may impress with his appearance of strength. The gentle Jesus has true strength. The gentle Jesus saves us. The gentle Jesus is the King we need and the King who comes to us.