A little digging may add great meaning to the Bible passage you are reading.


Donkey & Young Foal

Digging into the Details

Sometimes what appears to be an insignificant detail actually contains a wealth of information that adds to the significance of the event. Such is the case when Jesus made His “triumphal” entry into Jerusalem (Mt. 21:1-11). The detail I want to explore is the statement that Jesus rode in on the foal (colt) of a donkey.

The size of the Crowd

To better grasp the magnitude of the scene, we need to picture how big the crowd was. A census revealed that the number of lambs sacrificed during that Passover was close to 250,000. According to a Passover regulation, there had to be at least ten people for each sacrificed lamb. This means that there were at least 2-1/2 million people packed into Jerusalem when Christ rode in.

The Details

The first important detail was that the foal had never been ridden. This made it suitable for sacred purposes. The red heifer used in ceremonial cleansing had to be a beast upon which a yoke had never come (Num.19:2; Deut. 21:3). The cart carrying the ark could never have been used for any other purpose (1 Sam. 6:7).

The second important detail is found in the meaning of foal. It is a masculine noun generally used to indicate a human male offspring. It is used to reveal Christ as the Son of Man. Therefore, when Jesus presented Himself on a foal of a donkey, He is was revealing His humanity with all the weaknesses common to us all. Therefore, He could relate to all the weakness of the people. Since He was riding a beast of burden, He was presenting Himself as the one on whom the people could cast their burdens since He had experienced everything that had them so weighed down. He was presenting Himself, therefore, as the suffering servant.

The Son of God

His presence on this foal also presented Him as the Son of God. In Luke 3:38 He is identified as the foal (son) of Adam. Paul called Him the 2nd Adam only because He was the Son of God. In this capacity, Christ also came into Jerusalem as the Prince of Peace. A king would ride in on a donkey if he came in peace. If he thundered in on a horse, he was presenting himself as a conqueror.


Most triumphal entries celebrate a victory. For Christ, that will come later at His Second Coming. For the moment, His triumph was one of humility over pride. He had just displayed His servant heart to His disciples (John 13). He had set the example they were to follow. His entry into Jerusalem on that foal put an exclamation point on that message. Did His disciples get it? Probably not, at least not right then. Did the people get it? Definitely not. They were looking for a military deliverer from Roman oppression.

So, what should we do with this information? For starters, we should be willing to dig a little deeper if we really want to understand Jesus and His message. We should also question how well we have grasped His message of servanthood, humility, and suffering. If the seemingly insignificant details proclaim the message, shouldn’t we take them more seriously.

We like the idea of returning to earth with Christ in a blaze of glory, but Christ had to be the suffering servant before He could become the conquering king. The same is true for us.

They say the devil is in the details. Well, so is Jesus Christ. Sometimes just looking up a word on a site like Blue Letter Bible or Bible Gateway can open a door to a closer relationship with our Lord who gave His life for us. Happy digging.



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