Monday, March 23, 2015
Have you ever noticed the way donkeys fit into some key Bible events? Who can forget the day Balaam (Numbers 22) beat his donkey, just before the donkey started talking to him? However, did you know that one day a lion attacked and killed a prophet, but didn’t eat the man — he was food after all — nor the man’s donkey? In fact, the lion and the donkey stood guard over the old prophet’s body until someone came and took him away for burial. Check it out in 1 Kings 13!
Donkeys show up at various times in the Bible. Though they were considered a beast of burden, they were often ridden by those who had enough resources to own one. Donkeys eat less than horses for some reason and they are more adaptable to an arid climate. No wonder they are found so often in Scripture. Israel, like Arizona, has it’s share of mountains, but it is known for its deserts…donkey country!
I found instances in Scripture of donkeys ridden by leaders and prophets, by king’s daughters and king’s sons. What I didn’t find (maybe I missed one) was a single mention of a donkey ridden by a king. That is, of course, until THE King rode a donkey’s foal down the hill from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem. It was a seemingly unique event, prophesied hundreds of years earlier by Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9). The King of kings road a humble animal — I read once that donkeys were the stretch limos of that day and kings rode them in times of peace — with a background of “Hosanna!” as he rode. The people threw their cloaks on the trail before Him. They paved it with palm branches. For them, it was a day of great hope.
And they completely missed the message!
Jesus was on a donkey when they wanted a warhorse. Hosanna (“Save us!”) was their desperate hope that someone would finally deliver them from servitude to Rome. They wanted freedom, but they didn’t understand that the greatest freedom isn’t fashioned by human governmental systems. The best freedom of all happens in the heart. It jumps up with rejoicing in jail cells (see Acts 16). It lives, fueled by hope, in the darkest places and the most awful hours of history.
True freedom is born of peace. That was the message on the Sunday of palm branches. The Prince of Peace rode the animal of peace into the city of peace. His grand entrance was the beginning of the greatest week in history. Before it ended, some of the same people who yelled, “Hosanna!”, would cry out, “Crucify Him!” Then the King would die the death we deserve, later exploding out of the tomb to obliterate death’s power over us.
I can hardly contain the joy I have as we prepare for the beginning of Holy Week this weekend at Stone Ridge Church! Grab your palm branches and join us! Can’t be there? Catch the podcast!