Why a Donkey?

donkeyJesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem is celebrated and remembered by many people today.

The idea of the Christ riding on a donkey as people declare, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” strikes me in a new and fresh way today.

Whether you take the account as fact or allegory, I believe there is tremendous value in unpacking this gift handed down to us.  A gift of symbols.  A Divine promise.  A nice story.  Whichever lens works for you, I invite you to apply it for a moment.

  • Why do you think Jesus chose a donkey?

Some scholars refer to the Old Testament prophet Zechariah who said:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.[1]

Others offer that Eastern tradition suggests that the donkey is an animal of peace while a horse is a symbol of war–so of course the Prince of Peace would choose this animal.

Or it could be that someone said, “Yo, Jesus, we’re out of horses.  You cool with a donkey?”  Sort of like a rental car office that ran out of luxury cars.

  • Triumphal entry just five days before crucifixion?

Every Palm Sunday, it strikes me anew how quickly events can evolve from ecstatic to traumatic.  Everything can be going so well–full of promise and praise–and then in a matter of days, there can be a shift (shift happens) that seems devastating–and final.

Perhaps you find yourself in a moment of glory today.  I hope so!  Don’t be surprised, though, if that moment disappears.

But hang on because…

  • Sunday’s coming!

From praises of Hosanna, to personal betrayal and the denial of friends, to death–all in a matter of days.

But then, in a matter of even fewer days, the miracle and promise of resurrection occurs.

And the world is a very different place.

I believe this to be the invitation (Divine or allegorical) of Palm Sunday: to mount the donkey you have been given, accept the praise you are offered, maneuver through the betrayal, pain and loss we face, and then arise to a new consciousness of what it means to be a child of God.


[1] Zechariah 9:9

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