Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Donkey Rider, by August Macke, 1914 (August-Macke-Haus, Bonn)
Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord. / Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and 1 upon a colt the foal of an ass.
— Zechariah 2:10,9:9
Alongside Isaiah's descriptions of the suffering servant,2 it is the words of Zechariah that are most quoted by the writers of the gospels as messianic prophesy.3 Zechariah foresaw the kingdom of God as being a time of equality, of humility and of peace. God's reign would be wholly unlike the reign of earthly kings. Ego would be absent, as would war, profiteering, mistreatment and idolatry. The coming of the kingdom of God would usher in an era of salvation, justice and joy.
By coming to live amongst people, as person, as equal, God is offering to us a way of being in the world. Being part of, rather than apart from. As we pull away from God to worship at the alters of power, profit, personal comfort, and ultimately self, so then do we pull away from our fellows, set ourselves apart as greater than others, even claim god-like status of ourselves. To turn away from God is to turn away from community, and from the very earth itself, our sustenance, our home. It is a slow, subtle shift, easily unnoticed until it is too late, until resources are drained, the land is barren, poverty strikes, or war breaks out. By then, it is usually too late. God comes to live among us to open our eyes to now. With God in our midst, in whatever form we can imagine that takes, we stand a chance. Godless, we are lost. Godless, we plough inevitably to our own destruction.
1 The odd word 'and' in the original KJV was replaced by a comma or by the word 'even' in later translations. Taken literally, as did the writer of Matthew's gospel, it is clearly absurd. Matthew 21:5 has Jesus riding two animals into Jerusalem, which makes rather a parody of the whole scene.
2 Isaiah 42:1-4, 49:1-6, 50:4-7 and 52:13-53:12.
2 See also the reflections on Isaiah, Look and Together.
3 e.g. Matthew 21:2-5, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:28-38 and John 12:12-16