Every detail in the Bible has a spiritual significance, relevant to a person’s spiritual life, and the story of Jesus riding on a donkey on Palm Sunday is no exception. In the symbolic language of the Bible, the donkey represents the humble and innocent state of the natural person.
The natural person is the part of us that is concerned with our physical needs and desires, and is separate from our spiritual self. The natural person is also associated with the senses, which are the means by which we perceive the world around us. Our senses can be either a hindrance or a help to our spiritual growth, depending on how we use them.
In riding on a donkey, the Lord was demonstrating his humility and his willingness to enter into the humble and innocent state of the natural person. This was significant because it showed that he was not interested in worldly power or domination, but rather in serving and loving others. It also demonstrated that he was the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament, as the prophet Zechariah had foretold:
Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—riding on a donkey’s colt. (Zechariah 9:9,10)
The fact that the donkey is specifically identified as a “colt, the foal of a donkey” is important because a colt represents the rational faculties of the natural person. If we recognise Jesus as our Lord and saviour then we will allow Him and His will to have dominion over our rational faculties. This is the proper oder for our spiritual path. Just as the colt was a blank slate, ready to be trained and moulded, so too can we be transformed through our relationship with God.
Finally the people of Jerusalem greeted the Lord with palm branches and shouted "Hosanna" (meaning "save us") signifying the joy and celebration that comes with spiritual rebirth. The people of Jerusalem may have had a wrong understanding of the nature of the Lord’s Kingdom, but today we can recognised Jesus as a saviour, not in the sense of political or military power, but in the sense of spiritual salvation.