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Prophecies of the Messiah – His Humility

Prophecies of the Messiah – His Humility

The Hebrew Scriptures
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)

Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom my soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry out nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. (Isaiah 42:1,2)

The New Testament

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “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.'” So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:1-9)

Quotations and Comments

“Exult vehemently, O assemblage of Zion, and exult O assemblage of Jerusalem; Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, just himself and a Saviour, humble, riding on an ass, and a foal, and the young of an ass.” (Targum Jonathan, Zechariah 9:9)

R. Berekiah said in the name of R. Isaac: As the first redeemer was, so shall the latter Redeemer be. What is stated of the former redeemer? And Moses took his wife, and his sons, and set them upon an ass (Ex. 16, 4). Similarly will it be with the latter Redeemer [Messiah], as it is stated, Lowly and riding upon an ass. (Midrash Rabbah, Ecclesiastes 1. 9, 1)

These prophecies point to the personal humility of the Messiah. He will not seek acclaim by noise or drama, by displays of power or popularity. The use of a donkey’s colt by Jesus, for entering Jerusalem as its king, was hardly calculated to overawe people. That Jesus did this was part of a pattern in his life of eschewing behaviour which excited or manipulated crowds. He was humble.