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Sunday
Apr012012

Jesus and the donkey

Today being Palm Sunday, it's natural to think of the young donkey which Jesus rode in His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11).  Though the manner of the donkey's requisition seems a bit unorthodox to modern sensibility, it's clear that Jesus knew which colt He wanted and why He needed him.  Zechariah had prophesied after all, in Matthew's words:

"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.'" (21:5)

I recently came across a gentle and beautifully illustrated children's book which tells the story of Little Colt's Palm Sunday, and shared a review on Vegbooks.  It's a wonderful way to help the children in your life engage with the events of Palm Sunday, and to understand what a unique service the colt provided to Jesus, and what an honor it was to be with Jesus and be part of that special day.  As I wrote in the review, "The description and image of Little Colt being introduced to Jesus, who kneels down to softly to acknowledge and pet him, is especially tender."

Classic British and Christian author G. K. Chesterton wrote a poem about the donkey and his glorious moment carrying Christ, though it is much more grown-up in tone and even grotesque in its description of donkeys as a species.  A helpful commentary on the poem is available from Andy Kester Sawian, and here is the latter half of "The Donkey":

The tattered outlaw of the earth, 
Of ancient crooked will; 
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb, 
I keep my secret still. 

Fools! For I also had my hour; 
One far fierce hour and sweet: 
There was a shout about my ears, 
And palms before my feet. 

Francis Jammes, another Christian poet from the same era but this time from France, also wrote a poem about donkeys, but a tender tribute to their humble nature and their place with their Creator.  Here are just a couple of lines from "A Prayer to Go to Paradise with the Donkeys," translated by Richard Wilbur:

Let me come with these donkeys, Lord, into your land,
These beasts who bow their heads so gently ...

I wonder, have you come across any noteworthy tributes to the donkey colt which Jesus rode into Jerusalem, or donkeys in general?

(first photo of passion play in Bavaria, Germany (1900) from the George Grantham Bain Collection/The Library of Congress, via Wikimedia commons; donkey photo courtesy Daryl DeVries; thank you to Jonathan Samuelson for sharing the Jammes poem)

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Reader Comments (2)

Interesting perspective. Thanks as always for sharing.

Apr 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterScott Williams

Thanks for your note, Scott - Ben

Apr 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterBen DeVries

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