ONLY THE DONKEY GOT IT RIGHT!
A PALM SUNDAY REFLECTION
Only the donkey got it right! Well, the Lord knew what he was doing too, but of the entire crowd, whether disciples, local residents to the city, leaders in charge, or visitors to Jerusalem for the Passover feast, well, every one of them got it wrong.
I did too!
You see, every year, as a child, Palm Sunday was a BIG day. All the children would be given palm branches, and the congregation would sing one of two old hymns. Sometimes, the crowd sang both:
Hosanna Loud Hosanna,
All Glory, Laud and Honour…
If things turned out well, there was special music, including brass instruments to play as we walked down the church aisle.
It was a big day—and everyone would be all dressed up, either in suits or in the fancy dresses with an Easter bonnet. Everyone was on their best behaviour, to honor the beginning of Holy Week—the beginning of our salvation. It was quite a day at church followed by families gathering to eat their Sunday meal.
It wasn’t until years later that it became clear that Palm Sunday was a false festival… The crowd was excited for the wrong reason—they thought that Jesus was going to bring an end to Roman rule as soon as he entered the city, that the land, so often conquered by foreign invaders, would be restored to Israel, that all the righteous dead would rise from their graves all at once, and form a mighty army, and that this Messiah would take up his throne to rule the earth with Jerusalem at the center of his astonishing kingdom.
Here is the evidence in the gospel.
While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. Luke 19:11 NASB
They go so excited that they threw their cloaks down for the donkey so that it’s feet would not be sullied. Many in the crowd cut down branches, shouted, waved those branches, shouting “God Saves!”
It was almost like that big celebration in church. What follows is fascinating.
As I reflected on this passage in preparation for holy week, I realized that the disciples got it wrong. The religious leaders got it wrong. The raving crowd got it wrong. Jesus, well he did get it right, and so also did one more.
The donkey got it right!
You see, I grew up in the city, and didn’t really understand farm animals. In time, when stationed to a small town in Western Canada, I found out about horses, cows, and donkeys. I had a three-point charge—which means I had three places to preach on a Sunday. Two of them were farm country, including serving the Metis in Kikino, Alberta.
Now those were people who really understood animals. They would ride horses, and break in colts to the ride. When I asked them about this account of Palm Sunday, they wound up taking me outside to a fenced area, with a big wide-open exit. Across the exit were tube shaped rollers, covering the entire exit area, and about 20 feet long and 3-4 feet wide.
They called them “Texas gates”.
So I asked them why they were showing this to me, and they told me that no horse, or cow or mule, or donkey would go across those gates, because the ground was uneven.
Then they said, “That Jesus, he must have been some rider!”
“Why is that?” I asked.
Three reasons pastor:
Then they said, “That was some special donkey too! It obeyed the Lord when everything told it that it shouldn’t. Now that’s a special animal.”
So we have this picture of an untrained, unbroken donkey carrying about “the Presence of Jesus," surrounded by distraction and even terror, walking on ground that could not be trusted, obeying the kingly Lord, Jesus of Nazareth, who was being carried to his destiny.
There is a lot of application from this.
So, is Jesus in charge? You can ask Him, you know.
The apostle said it beautifully in 2 Corinthians 4, in which Paul was describing what it was like to follow Christ and experience trial.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed,
Perplexed, but not despairing,
Persecuted, but not forsaken,
Struck down, but not destroyed,
Always carrying about in the body, the dying of Jesus
So that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body…
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NASB
Hey, if a donkey can get it right, so can we… And even if the noise is horrendous, and the purpose is unclear, should you place the dying of Jesus in charge, the life of Jesus will break forth in your life too, just like it did on Resurrection Sunday, so many years ago.
© David Chotka 2021