12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” u
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:
15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey’s colt.” w
16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.
17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” 
Today’s passage has me thinking about humility. This is the high point of Jesus fame. The news about the amazing raising of Lazarus has spread. The crowds are celebrating, and Jesus is being treated as a conquering hero as He comes into Jerusalem.
This is sometimes called Jesus’ “Triumphal Entry.” In the Roman tradition of the “Triumph,” a returning conquering general would parade through the streets of Rome, cheered by the crowds. He would be dressed and even made up to resemble the great statue of Jupiter in his temple. But Rome (before Julius Ceasar) had an aversion to kings and to men setting themselves above others. So often during the triumph parade, a slave would be in the chariot with the triumphing general, repeatedly saying, “Memento mori,” roughly speaking ‘Remember that thou art a man.‘ In other words, don’t let this go to your head!
Jesus didn’t have a slave behind him, but he took the initiative regarding humility by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, instead of a horse. By riding a donkey he sought to communicate that He was coming in peace and humility. He had come, not to be served, but to serve and to give His life for us.
If there was anyone who had excuse not to be humble it is Jesus. And yet he embraces and embodies humility as He approaches the cross. But what does this mean? It’s been said that humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. Jesus was focused on His mission, and the people He came to save. This is the outlook and direction that He would have us emulate as well.
The chief manifestation of our sinful condition is self-centeredness and pride. For that reason humility in imitation of Christ is one of the most difficult Christian virtues to pursue. But like all Christian virtues, it cannot be pursued without the strength Christ gives.
So my prayer today is for humility, that this aspect of the character of Christ would be seen in my life today. That may focus would be not on serving myself but on Christ and those whom He brings into my life today.
What is the Word leading you to pray about today?
 The New International Version. 2011 (Jn 12:12–19). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.