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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Salter Goodwin

We Need More Donkeys!

Perhaps the only invited participant on Palm Sunday was a donkey. A halting, hee-hawing, stubborn donkey. This was no accidental bystander swept into a frenzy against her will.

Jesus recruited the donkey on purpose. She was a statement, not just a symbol. She was an announcement, not an accident.

Conquerors entered with speed and gallop on horses that could rear and threaten. But a donkey was used to haul a load. Commoners used donkeys. A donkey threatened no one except with stubbornness. Perhaps that is why the donkey became a symbol of peace not activism.

Besides, the prophecy about this moment in history is very specific: “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, NIV) No, this was no accident.

Once before God used a donkey. Opened his mouth and gave him human speech because stubborn Balaam would not listen any other way. (Numbers 22:28) However, on this day the foal is humbly silent except for a bray or two when the press of people disturb. Today, the message is his burden and the recruited animal needs no other words.

See the scene? Some estimate there could have been 2 million people in Jerusalem because of Passover. Who saw Jesus first? Who drew attention to the one they knew as Rabbi, Healer, Storyteller? Who cut down the first palm branch? Because it only took a handful to feed a fury that could not be stopped. There was no mistaking this scene. This was the day they had prayed for and thought would never come, their king on a donkey! What they had thought in secret and whispered, they shouted. It was Messiah and no one would have been able to tell them otherwise.

They covered the rough laid road with a bed of palm branches and shouted their enthusiastic greeting: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

The donkey was simply the one who carried the message, head up and haunches strong.

Sometimes we want to be the palm branch lifters, gathered in the heady celebration because there is comfort in such a unison crowd.

But what if we are called to be the donkey, the message carrier? What if God needs more donkeys than crowd-joiners? What if I am called to offer myself as one who provides a life Jesus can fill so that His message will be heard?

On this Palm Sunday, I’m giving my back to the Lord as freely and undemanding as the foal gave his. I would be His postman to deliver His message of peace and salvation without adding one stubborn bray. The world is full of palm-lifters for a day. We need more donkeys!

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