What was so significant about Jesus riding on a donkey?
Zechariah 9.9 prophesied:
Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’
This prophecy is referred to in Matthew:
Jesus said .., ‘Go into the village opposite you, and you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me.’...All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Prophet. Matthew 21.1-5
Exodus 23:12 Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest
God’s instructions in the Torah are clear that even ‘your donkey’ must rest on the Sabbath. So, Jesus‘s decision to enter Jerusalem sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey must have happened on the Sabbath, because for it to have happened on any other day would have had no significance.
By riding a donkey on the Sabbath Jesus was making a specific point that He was Messiah, the anointed One, and King of Kings.....because, according to the Rabbis, only a donkey that had never been ridden before could legally be ridden on the Sabbath...and to do so was indicative of kingship.
It was more than coincidence that His entry was on the Sabbath. To discover why, we need to look forward to His Second Coming. The Apostle Paul tells us on which day He will return in two of his letters, 1Thessalonians 4.16 and
The Lord will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God…...at the last trumpet.
The shout, the voice, the trumpet, and the last trumpet, all refer to the same thing. On the Feast of Trumpets, one hundred blasts are blown on the shofar, the ram’s horn trumpet. The final long blast is called in Hebrew tekiah gedolah, and it is known as ‘the last trumpet’.
The Feast of Trumpets, Rosh HaShanah in Hebrew, takes place on Tishri 1. It is the only one of the seven Biblical Feasts in Leviticus 23 that takes place on the first day of a month. In Israel, in Temple times, the announcement of a new month was determined by at least two witnesses sighting the new Moon. The new Moon then, as now, can appear over at least two days, and therefore some Lunar months are 29 days, some 30. In Matthew 25.13, we read:
You know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. Matthew 25:13
The Gospel accounts are precisely accurate. You know neither the day nor the hour, BUT we will know the month, and it will be the Tishri. The only problem is that we do not know within two days when the Moon will appear to determine Tishri 1.
The first day of each of the Biblical Feasts is designated a Sabbath day, regardless of whether or not it falls on a Saturday, the weekly Sabbath. Each of these special Sabbath days is called a Yom Tov, a High Holiday.
Now we can see that Jesus entered Jerusalem on a Sabbath, not only to fulfill the prophecy in Zechariah, but also as a prophetic act looking towards His Second Coming when He will return on a Sabbath High Holy Day, Rosh HaShanah, the Feast of Trumpets, to reign over the earth from Jerusalem.