Palm Sunday, All Glory, Laud, and Honour, to Thee Redeemer King …
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” Zechariah 9:9
Try to remember what a donkey is like, — so few of them are left in our world. Probably not many of us, unless you live away from the city, have ever seen a donkey in the flesh. Now, an old, stubborn, donkey, hardened by life, might give you a quick, sharp, kick when you least expected, but a young one, alert, with his ears perked up, focused on you, is rather endearing.
He can live on a meagre diet, is hardworking and has a quick, cheerful trot. In fact is is rather easy to overfeed donkeys kept with western horses. They are “easy-keepers” and tend to get cresty when out to pasture with the rest of the livestock. There are hundreds of animals more beautiful and graceful, more able and strong. But it was a donkey Christ chose when he presented himself to the people as king in response to their acclamation.
Now let us look even more closely at the donkey. Jesus tells two of his disciples to go into a nearby town and to find this beast. “If anyone asks, respond, ‘the Master has need of it.‘” (Luke 19:28-34) The humble donkey, pressed into service, is a model of discipleship. Our purpose in life is not to draw attention to ourselves, to have a brilliant career, to aggrandize our egos; rather our purpose is to serve the Master’s need, to cooperate, as he sees fit, with his work.
We see donkeys out this way fairly frequently. Owners like to include them in with other herd animals, horses, cows, sheep, because they have a facility for recognizing predators and dealing with them rather directly, like big old sheep dogs with sharp hoofs. While the rest of the herd runs a short way until it is clear that the predator is after some other target and then relaxes, the donkey goes after the predator and drives it off or kills it.The predators get it, even when the rest don’t. The predators try to avoid the donkeys, even the fat cresty donkeys.
The task of every disciple is just the same: to be a Christopher, a bearer of Christ to the world, to listen to our Master, to drive off the “predators”. Might we be unnoticed in this? Yes. Might we be laughed at? Of course. But the Master has need of us and so we perform our essential task. Continue thinking about the donkey’s good qualities and notice how in order to do anything worth while, it has to allow itself to be ruled by the will of whoever is leading it… On its own the donkey would only… make an ass of itself.