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Easter donkeys

Have you ever noticed that there are two donkeys in the Easter story? According to Matthew, on the day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem, two donkeys, a mother and her colt, were brought to Jesus at his command for the privilege of carrying him to his appointment with the cross. But Luke makes it clear that Jesus chose to sit not on the bigger one, but on the colt.

How extraordinary! To be sure, it was just as the prophet Zechariah had foretold, hundreds of years before it happened, right down to the last detail. But to be moved again to wonder, it was another proof that this man Jesus had a servant heart that would give its all. For this was one of the few remaining opportunities for him to preserve some dignity. There was no great white steed to ride on, but at least a strong adult donkey would have not invited disdain. But he chose to sit at the lowest altitude.

He had done it already when he came into this world, and lay in a manger. He would do it again when he knelt at the Last Supper to wash his disciple’s feet. And he would do it yet again in being stripped naked and crucified, to occupy the lowest position in the Roman Empire.

‘Ride on, ride on in majesty’, says the old hymn, ‘in lowly pomp ride on to die. Bow your meek head to mortal pain, then take, O God, your power and reign!’

DM 22nd March 2016

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