Can you imagine the scene? The man everyone had been talking about in the center of a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people. The sound of people's shouts must have been incredible: He was the one that raised Lazarus from the dead, He was the one who people said performed miracles, He was the One they had waited for. Entering triumphantly on….. a donkey colt. It's a little detail in the story that not many people pay attention to, but as a Rancher, it’s a poignant image that commands my attention. Matthew 21 reads:
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna, to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”"
For those of you who aren’t horse people, let me explain something- donkeys are notorious for being extremely stubborn. If they don’t want to move you can’t make them, and if they don’t want to stop, you don’t have a chance at slowing down. We read here, very specifically as it was foretold by the prophet Zechariah (v. 9:9), then played out in the physical, that Jesus was to be riding on the foal of a donkey, a colt. A colt would have been defined as under 2 years old and unbroken, meaning it had never been ridden or trained to allow a rider.
If you google any number of unbroken donkey videos or look at videos of any donkey accepting their first rider, it looks as if the donkey does everything BUT accept their rider. They plant their feet, they buck, they rear, they twist, turn, attempt to get the rider off by running them into fences… it is a long, meticulous, and often dramatic-looking feat to “gentle” (in that day or as the common term “break) a donkey to ride- let alone handle the chaos of a shouting crowd waving palm branches and closing in.
The miracle in the specifics of this one detail in the story of Jesus are astonishing to me. And yet there’s one more aspect to consider….
The kings in Jesus day would have never rode on a donkey. The very idea would have been an insult. Kings would have been in drawn carriages, or at the very least mounted on a well-conditioned, turned-out, noble-in-appearance horse. Donkeys were meant for packing or were transportation for common folk. They certainly did not display the splendor and glory bestowed upon a king. Our Savior willingly, as a grown man, in loving obedience to the call on His life, as a king unlike any other: as a humble servant. On a donkey that by all rights shouldn’t have even allowed Him to sit on his back. What an incredible Jesus we know.
(Written by Carissa Ramsdell)