What a king! Not a warlike monarch, arriving on a battle steed to marshal his armies for action. Rather, Jesus comes “humble, and mounted on a donkey,” as Zechariah says (v. 5). In these far-off days a donkey was not an ignoble animal. Kings did ride them. When David appointed Solomon to be his successor as king of Israel he had him seated on his personal mule and taken to Gihon to be anointed by Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet (1 Kings 1:32-40). But the donkey did symbolize that Jesus was coming in peace, not for war, and that his was to be a gentle, peaceful reign. This is what Jesus was indicating by his action and what Matthew emphasizes by retaining the word “gentle” in the quote. John omits the line containing “gentle” in his quotation, because he is interested only in the fact that Jesus’ riding on a colt fulfilled the words of Zechariah.

This climactic week begins with what we call the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Each of the gospels records this event, and the first significant thing they tell us about it is that Jesus arranged what was to happen. In other words, this was not a case merely of some spontaneous outburst of excitement on the part of the people, though there was obviously some spontaneity about it. Rather, it was something the Lord carefully planned in order to make a statement.

The most important life ever lived was that of Jesus Christ, and the most important part of that life was the momentous week that ended it. The week began with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday. It included his second cleansing of the temple, his final teaching, his arrest, trial and crucifixion, and it ended with his resurrection from the dead on What we call Easter Sunday. Eight momentous days in all.

As I stated in yesterday’s lesson, the three conditions of a kinsman-redeemer were fulfilled in the case of Jesus Christ, but they are best illustrated in the story of Ruth and her redeemer Boaz. Here is their story. In the days of the Judges there was a famine in Israel, and a man from Bethlehem, whose name was Elimelech, left Judah with his wife Naomi and two sons to live in Moab. Not long after this, Elimelech died, and shortly after that the sons married two local girls from Moab. One was Orpah. The other was Ruth. Ten years later the sons also died, and Naomi and her daughters-in-law were left. They were quite poor. So when Naomi heard that the famine in Judah had passed and that there was food there, she decided to go back to her own land and live again in Bethlehem. Orpah, the first daughter-in-law, returned to her family, but Ruth insisted on staying with Naomi.

Yesterday I spoke of the word, lutron. We can go back further than this. Lutron has parallels in the Hebrew of the Old Testament. The first parallel is the word kopher, which also means “a ransom price.” But kopher is richer than the simple Greek idea, because it refers to the redemption of a person who, apart from the payment of that redemption price, would die.