“A Donkey’s Tale”
I love Palm Sunday at our church. The kids all gather at the back of our worship space and then proceed forward toward the altar in wonderful chaos waving palm branches while we sing the refrain “Hosanna in the Highest.” I enjoy seeing the children participating in worship, but getting them to go down the aisle can sometimes be a little like herding cats. Imagine if we added a donkey colt to the mix!
Speaking of a colt, the details about the young donkey in Luke 19 have always been curious to me. I mean, what does a colt have to do with Jesus anyway?
Perhaps, the author shares details about the donkey to show that Jesus is our omniscient Lord. Jesus instructs his disciples to go into the village and get the donkey. He knows exactly where the colt will be tied and He also knows that this animal has never been ridden before. He warns the disciples that someone may question them taking the donkey and that they should just say, “The Lord has need of it.” And…the events occurred exactly as Jesus had said.
Or maybe, Luke mentions the donkey to highlight the fact that Jesus is different from other kings. Rulers would typically enter the city in processional fashion on a magnificent horse. Not Jesus. He comes on a lowly donkey symbolizing humility and peace. Unlike other kings, His battle victory is not against other nations, rather His victories are over disease, hunger, oppression, and corruption. This triumphal entry is His pathway to the cross and empty tomb where our glorious King wins the battle against sin and death.
It is likely that Luke includes details of the colt to confirm in the hearts of readers that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. He is the anticipated one spoken of in Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! 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.”
Who knows, the donkey may be mentioned for all of these reasons and even to highlight the validity of the story. If Jesus’ story were a fairytale, I don’t think the donkey would have a lead role. But God’s work on earth is not made up! These are true events we’ll read about this week which highlight the saving work of Jesus our Lord. This is cause for us to rejoice and praise God as the multitudes did on that day. Jesus is our omniscient Lord, our glorious King, our promised Messiah who reigns triumphant now and forevermore, Amen.
Luke 19:28-40 (ESV):
28 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”