Donkey, Horse, or Mule?

jesus-on-donkeyThe disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them,
and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them;
and He sat on the coats. Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road,
and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road.
The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
B
LESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD
;
Hosanna in the highest!”
Matthew 21:9-10

As I read the account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the Sunday before His crucifixion, I am thinking about what Jesus symbolized for us when He chose to ride upon a donkey. The first thing I think about is the parallel of Mary riding on a donkey on her way to Bethlehem before Jesus was born and now Jesus riding on a donkey on His way to Jerusalem before He is crucified. There must be some significance with this repetition of images. (However, I acknowledge that many scholars believe Mary was walking with Joseph rather than riding on a donkey.)

By riding upon a donkey, Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 NLT, “Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, 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.” Jesus did not come as a warring king on a horse, but as a gentle and peaceable king upon a donkey. Let’s elaborate about the symbolic images of a horse and a donkey.

A horse is described as a strong animal with solid hoofs and a flowing mane and tail. In early historical times, leaders of wars often rode horses. Still today, there is a sense of authority and pride for the rider of a horse. In Revelation 19:11, John describes his vision of Jesus riding a horse when He returns to earth by saying, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.” However, this is not the image Jesus is portraying on Palm Sunday.

A donkey is a lowly animal. It is described as a domesticated member of the horse family with long ears and a braying call. A donkey is often used as a beast of burden. Jesus was the burden the donkey was carrying into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. However, Jesus was also carrying a heavy burden within His heart for all mankind at this time. I wonder if the donkey realized how heavy a load it was carrying physically, emotionally and spiritually. I also wonder if the long ears of the donkey epitomized how well attuned Jesus was to hearing the voice of His Heavenly Father on this day and throughout the coming days.

With the pictorial image of prideful horses and humble donkeys in my mind, I think of James 4:6 that says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” I wonder which animal I represent. I desire to be humble like Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem over 2000 years ago. However, I have to admit that I can become prideful. Most likely I represent another animal – a mule. A mule is defined as the offspring of a donkey and a horse. It is a pack animal and has the tendency to have an obstinate temperament. Apparently, my personality is a symbolic hybrid of a horse and a donkey. There are times when I can be stubborn like a mule. Also as I consider the mule being a pack animal, I realize that I can pack away a lot of negative thoughts that have the capability of becoming a heavy load to carry.

Jesus was seated upon a humble donkey when He rode into Jerusalem. He chose to reveal Himself as a lowly king rather than a prideful king who would have ridden upon a horse. When entering the city, Jesus was as close to the donkey as He could possibly be physically. I am reminded of James 4:8, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” For myself, if I want to experience a close spiritual intimacy with Jesus, I cannot allow myself to be double-minded with both prideful and humble thoughts. I yearn to portray a donkey rather than a horse or a mule.

In just a few days, we will celebrate Palm Sunday 2017. We will join in the shouts of “Hosanna – Jesus saves!” However, may we also take time to give attention to the humble donkey upon which Jesus rides. May the humility of Jesus and the donkey be reflected in our lives as well.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Crowding In

palm-branchLast Sunday we celebrated Palm Sunday and this Friday we will be commemorating Good Friday. Today I find myself in between these two sacred days of the Christian faith. I also can find myself between two crowds. One crowd shouts “Hosanna!” while the other crowd demands “Crucify Him!” In which crowd do I find myself?

 

First, I observe the “Hosanna!” crowd that congregated along the road Jesus traveled upon His arrival to Jerusalem. The complete narrative regarding Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem can be read in Matthew 21:1-11, but I am focusing upon only a few of the verses.

The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, and brought
the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on
the coats.
Most of the crowd
spread their coats in the road, and others
were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road.
The crowds
going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
B
LESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD
;
Hosanna in the highest!”
When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying,
“Who is this?” And
the crowds
were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus,
from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Matthew 21:6-11
(underlining is my emphasis)

The “Hosanna!” crowd included people who were not necessarily residents of Jerusalem. The majority of this crowd probably were people coming to the city for Passover. Very likely they had heard about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and they saw the potential of Jesus being the Messiah. They expressed their enthusiasm by waving palm branches.

sword-mf

The “Hosanna!” crowd was a positive crowd and I would desire to be a part of it. In contrast, the “Crucify Him!” crowd was a more negative group. I do not feel that this crowd would be worthy of my attention. In book of Luke I read the details of Jesus being brought before Pilate and Herod. Again, I am only quoting a few specific verses.

but they (the crowd) kept on calling out, saying, “Crucify, crucify Him!”
And he (Pilate) said to them (the crowd) the third time, “Why, what evil
has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death;
therefore I will punish Him and release Him.” But they (the crowd)
were insistent, with loud voices asking that He be crucified. And
their (the crowd’s) voices began to prevail. And Pilate pronounced
sentence that their demand be granted.
Luke 23:21-24
(underlining is my emphasis)

Looking more closely at the scripture quoted above, I notice in verse 18 of Luke 23 that it says “With one voice they cried out.” An assembly of people in agreement regarding an opinion is more readily heard in contrast to the voice of only one person. Another thing I notice about this crowd in verse 21 is that they “they kept on calling out.” Persistence pays off and this becomes evident in verse 24 that says “their voices began to prevail.” Numbers and persistence can influence the outcome of a situation.

This particular crowd is first mentioned in Luke 22:47 as the crowd who came with Judas to the Mount of Olives when he betrayed Jesus. According to verse 22, these people were the chief priests, officers of the temple guard and elders of the people. These men were residents of Jerusalem and they had been plotting and planning against Jesus for a period of time. The “Crucify Him!” crowd was a contrast to the spontaneous travelers of the “Hosanna!” crowd. I notice that instead of waving palm branches, they carried swords and clubs in their hands.

These two crowds were not made up of unstable people who chose to praise Jesus one day and punish Him another. Both crowds had their own agendas and both crowds were present all week. I suspect each crowd became more convicted of their opinions as time went one. A crowd can be right or it can be wrong. In either case, a crowd is powerful and influential. The “Hosanna!” crowd proclaimed Jesus as a king while the “Crucify Him!” crowd portrayed Him as a criminal.

 

peopleAlthough I certainly was not alive over 2000 years ago when these crowds gathered around Jesus, I still encounter crowds today. On a daily basis, I may find the busyness of business crowding into my life more than I encounter crowds of people. Worries can crowd out the thoughts in my mind that should be occupied with Jesus. I say that I want to be among the “Hosanna!” crowd rather than the “Crucify Him!” crowd, but do I live my life according to this statement? Does my attitude show the crowd around me that I make it a priority to praise the Lord in all things at all times or does my behavior cause the surrounding crowd to think I crucify, or put to death, the plans and purposes of the Lord? These questions cause me to do some serious thinking!

My Reader, with which crowd do you mingle? What message is your lifestyle shouting to the crowd around you? Last Sunday we all were part of the “Hosanna!” crowd. By this Friday will we allow the circumstances of the past few days to influence us to join the “Crucify Him!” crowd? Will be ready on Sunday to join the “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today!” crowd and proclaim the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

A Donkey and Me

This coming Sunday will be Palm Sunday so I decided to read about Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem in all four gospels this week.  While reading this account in the first gospel, I stopped when I read the words of Jesus in Matthew 21:2&3.  These verses tell about Jesus sending two of his disciples to Bethphage to bring him a donkey and a colt.  What caught my attention was that Jesus told these men that if they were asked why they were doing this, they were to reply that the Lord had need of them.  Also I noticed that in order to bring these animals to Jesus, they had to untie, or loose, them.  It all makes sense because if Jesus was going to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, he had to have a donkey, and to be able to bring this donkey to Jesus, it had to be untied.  Then I asked myself, “Am I that donkey?  Am I tied up and do I need to be loosed to do what Jesus needs me to do?”  Let me explain myself a little further.

Jeremiah 29:11 is one of my favorite scriptures where God tells me that He knows the plans and purposes He has for me.  If I am to fulfill these plans, I must not be tied up with my personal agenda.  Proverbs 16:8 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”  I must be loosed from what I might plan in my heart if I sincerely want to allow the Lord to direct my steps. Not only must I be set free, but I must allow myself to then be used in the way God desires. If the disciples were questioned about their actions, Jesus told them to respond that He had a need for the donkey.   Jesus had a plan for the donkey and he has a plan for me!.  Psalm 33:11 says, ‘the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”  I want to help fulfill God’s plans by doing what He needs me to do.

I must be loosed from personal bondage in order for the Lord to fulfill His plans and purposes through me. Another interesting scripture is Matthew 18:18 that informs me that “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”  I wonder what might be binding me – fear, peer pressure, finances?  Does God want to set me free from something that is preventing me from being the best person I could be?   There is a connection between what I do while living on this earth and what is happening in the realm of the heavenlies.  I am sure I do not fully grasp this correlation, but I want to cooperate with God.

While reading these two passages in Matthew 21 and Matthew 18, I found another interesting connection between these two scriptures.  In the 21st chapter, Jesus sent two disciples to get the donkeys.  He did not just send one person alone.  Then in the 18th chapter verse 19, Jesus said that where two or three people agree, what they ask will be done by His Father in heaven.  Jesus even gives more assurance by saying that where two or three come together in His name, He is there with them.  God has a unique need for each one of us to fulfill his or her part of His plans and purposes, but He never leaves one person alone.  Not only is He with us, but He also surrounds us with other believers who will help us and support us.

Does this give you, my Reader, something to think about before you observe Palm Sunday in just a few days?  Shout, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”  Hosanna means save; so shout, “Save me, Jesus!”  As you praise Jesus with your hosannas, ask Him to save you and release you from any bondage in your life that is keeping you from being the person He has created you to be.  Jesus has need of you and he will be with you.  Just as Jesus rode on the back of the donkey, he will ride upon your life as you fulfill his agenda.

Joyfully,
Cheryl

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