by Susan K. Stewart @susan_stewart
Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 ESV
Love at first encounter.
My first meeting with a herd of donkeys was at a rescue facility. It didn’t take long after entering an area with about a hundred of them to learn how misunderstood they are.
We’ve had five resident donkeys on our ranch over the years. In that long-time association with these small equines, I learned so much about and from them. They aren’t stubborn, only cautious. Although often seen alone in a pasture, they are relational creatures. Donkeys are loving. While we might think them obstinate and picture them kicking their heels at someone in anger, they, in fact, would rather have their ears scratched while they rub their nose on others.
Donkeys are mentioned nearly 150 times in the Bible. But it’s the donkey Christ rode into Jerusalem most familiar to us all.
The Gospels tell us Jesus sent his disciples into the village of Bethpage to find the animal He was to ride. He knew where this colt would be found. Jesus told the disciples how to respond when questioned: “If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately’” (Mark 11:3 ESV).
The disciples followed Jesus’s instructions and returned with donkey in tow (Mark 11:6). Jesus then rode it into the Holy City, flanked by people laying coats and palm branches down on the pathway to honor Him as the arriving king.
This morning, as we remember this now famous event, we should take the opportunity to consider our own participation in the kingdom of God. On Palm Sunday, we enter our places of worship to rejoice with songs of hosanna and shouts of praise as did the crowd that day. Maybe we should enter more like the donkey.
The donkey trusted Jesus.
The donkey had never carried anyone on its back before. Yet there is no record of it trying to buck the weight of Jesus as He seated Himself on its back.
Donkeys are cautious creatures. They don’t go where they sense danger. This colt showed no sign of fear. It followed. It trusted. It had no hint of stubbornness. The colt followed willingly. We need to trust Jesus when He takes us where we have not gone before, into places where we may not know what to expect.
The donkey was untied so that he could serve.
The donkey needed to be released in order to participate in the event. Far too often we are tied to work, leisure, friends, and other things the world deems important. This extends to burdens, guilt, cares, addictions, and even devices. What is there in our lives that could be getting in the way of service? When we allow the Holy Spirit to untie us, we are free to serve.
The donkey (and all others in the story) remained humble.
Neither the disciples nor those with whom they spoke that day argued with Jesus’s words. Have you ever argued with God? I have. Surely, Lord, you don’t understand. When God speaks, we need to yield to His calling, then humbly follow without question.
Remember, this donkey, the least of the least, was not showy. It didn’t stand out from the crowd and received no glory for its part in the scene. It just went about the assigned task. Ouch. We (hopefully) don’t consciously seek attention or accolades. But, let’s be honest, we do like it when our service is noticed by others.
As we rejoice at the remembrance of the triumphal entry of our king, let’s pray to be as trusting, liberated, and humble as the donkey.
About the author: Susan K. Stewart is the Senior Nonfiction Editor with Elk Lake Publishing Inc. She tends her donkeys, chickens, and various other creatures with her husband Bob on a small ranch in Central Texas. Susan’s passion is to inspire readers with practical, real-world solutions. Her book, Donkey Devos: Listen to Your Donkey When God Speaks, is due out later this year. Learn more at her website www.practicalinspirations.com.
Join the conversation: Is there something else about the triumphal entry of Jesus on Palm Sunday that inspires you?