In the Gospel of John Bible Study I attended this summer, it was made very clear that Jesus often deliberately provoked confrontation with the Pharisees. Other than a few obvious examples such as driving the moneychangers from the Temple, I never really thought of Jesus in those terms. But time and again Jesus takes it to the Pharisees in ways that they simply cannot ignore.
Here is another such time. Jesus enters Jerusalem on a colt. We so often look at this scene for all the other significance familiar to us, but William Barclay points out just what message this had for the Jews of that time. It was an act of defiance that no one could fail to understand. Even in this moment, however, Jesus was telling everyone something more ... that the Messiah was a king of peace. He gave them chance after chance to get the point but they closed their eyes to it. We must hope that seeing all these examples leaves us with our eyes just a little wider open.
We have to note certain things about this entry into Jerusalem.
(i) It was carefully planned. It was no sudden, impulsive action. Jesus did not leave things until the last moment. He had his arrangement with the owners of the colt. The Lord needs it was a password chosen long ago.
(ii) It was an act of glorious defiance and of superlative courage. By this time there was a price on Jesus' head (John 11:57). It would have been natural that, if he must go into Jerusalem at all, he should have slipped in unseen and hidden away in some secret place in the back streets. But he entered in such a way as to focus the whole lime-light upon himself and to occupy the center of the stage.
(iii) It was a deliberate claim to be king, a deliberate fulfilling of the picture in Zechariah 9:9. But even in this Jesus underlined the kind of kingship which he claimed. The ass in Palestine was not the lowly beast that it is in this country. It was noble. Only in war did kings ride upon a horse; when they came in peace they came upon an ass. So Jesus by this action came as a king of love and peace, and not as the conquering military hero whom the mob expected and awaited.