What Kind of Triumph?


Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 (ESV)

By the final week of Jesus’ life, he was famous. When he entered Jerusalem for his last Passover, the people rolled out a royal welcome, waving palm branches and lining the road with their own cloaks. They gave him a “Triumphal Entry,” expecting Jesus to knock a few Roman heads together and to seat Israel once again at the senate of world power.

But Jesus spells “triumph” s-a-c-r-i-f-i-c-e. He rides into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey, not a mighty warhorse. You would expect a world leader to pull into Washington, D. C., in a stretch limo, not a 2001 Corolla. He comes with tears, not a war cry. He comes to die, not to set up an empire. In his own words, he “came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).

It didn’t take long for the crowd to figure out that their kind of “triumph” was not Jesus’ kind. In less than a week, “hosanna” turned to “crucify him.” But that was part of the plan too, because he came “not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).


Jeffrey Arthurs, Ph.D., Professor of Preaching and Communication and Chair of the Division of Practical Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, serves as a general editor for Kerux and carries on an active ministry of pulpit supply and conference speaking.

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