Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. The scripture we read at church was, of course, Matthew 21:1-11, which recounts Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. This is one of the very famous accounts in scripture, and most people are at least minimally familiar with the story.
As many times as I have read this scripture, though, it always captures my imagination. Jesus, riding into the city gates before a crowd- a crow that would in a weeks time be throwing insults at him- praising him as Hosannah and laying their coats at the feet of the foal that carried him. Its an amazing piece of scripture. Of course, the donkey is a key piece of the story. I remember as a kid learning that the donkey was a symbol of God’s gentleness and humility, and that it was a poignant depiction of the Old Testament prophecy in Zechariah. The aspect of the story that we too often gloss over, though, is the means by which the disciples got the donkey.
Jesus told the disciples, as we read in verse 2, to go into the city and essentially borrow the young donkey. And, if anyone were to ask them why they were taking the animal, they were to tell them that the Lord needs it.
Imagine the story without the donkey- the donkey was the signal to the crowds that Jesus was the Messiah. Anyone who had studied the Old Testament knew exactly what Jesus was saying when he rode into town on the animal, and without this important piece of the scene, the prophecy would not have been fulfilled. Without the faith of the owner of the donkey, and without his or her willingness to give up their possession when the Lord asked for it, people may not have recognized Jesus that day in Jerusalem for what he is- Hosannah in the Highest.
During this Holy Week, my prayer is that we each take stock of the possessions we value and ask ourselves if we would be willing to give them up if and when the Lord asks us to. What is your “donkey”? What do you have in your possession that might help glorify God in the most unexpected way?