(Zech. 9:9) Does this passage predict Jesus coming on a colt into Jerusalem?

CLAIM: Zechariah writes, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9). Is this a messianic prediction of Jesus?

RESPONSE: The beginning of this chapter (9:1-8) explains the conquest of Alexander the Great in the mid-fourth century BC. Verse 9 is a transition to the future Messiah. Jewish interpreters (before the time of Jesus) held this passage to be messianic in nature. Barker writes, “Verses 7–8 in particular form a transition to vv.9–10, which the Talmud and the Midrashim take as messianic.”[1]

The NT authors quote this passage in defense of Jesus fulfilling messianic prophecy (Mt. 21:5; Lk. 19:37; Jn. 12:15). When Jesus entered the city in this way, the people sang a Messianic psalm (Ps. 118:26). They interpreted Jesus’ actions as fulfilling this prediction in Zechariah 9:9.

If Zechariah is describing literal peace, then there is definitely a gap of time between verse 9 and verse 10. But another interpretation is possible. The humble king will come to Jerusalem on a donkey, but he will be able to bring peace to the nations—without violence (v.10). Notice, this verse does not promise that the nations will be peaceful. Instead, it says that he will “speak peace to the nations.” This is being partially fulfilled as we speak through the Body of Christ on Earth. The NT teaches that Jesus came first as a Suffering Servant and next as a Reigning Ruler. First, he came to speak peace, but he will return with the sword.


[1] Barker, K. L. Zechariah. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1986. 662.