In John we read “Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written: ‘Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!’” The source is often identified as Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Here Raymond Brown’s attention to detail is helpful: the “as it is written” points to not only Zech 9:9, but also (first!): “On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak.” From the context of this verse in Zephaniah, Brown wonders if there isn’t a counterpoint to the crowd’s messianic celebration: Jesus’ presence is God’s presence, which brings restoration (Lazarus!) and blessing to the nations (the Greeks who wish to see Jesus in the next verses in John!).
Symbols are important. Entering Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt was important. At the same time, with the Lord’s proud descriptions of Behemoth (Job 40—bumped yesterday by Holy Cross) and Leviathan ringing in our ears, was there not a part of Jesus that would rather have been entering astride one of them?