“I think Jesus wanted to ride the donkey so he wouldn’t hurt his feet,” says Mary Jane, 7. “His feet had just got washed by expensive perfume.”
Mary of Bethany had anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive oil and had used her hair as a towel to wipe his feet. The Bible text tells us this oil was worth 300 denarii. That’s about a year’s worth of work (John 12:3-5). It’s possible that Jesus didn’t want to get his perfumed feet dirty, but I believe there’s a deeper reason for the donkey ride.
“Jesus rode a donkey to show he was humble and wanted something simple. Many people remembered his miracles, so they put their cloaks and palm branches to honor him and they shouted ‘Hosanna!’” says Sofia, 8
If Jesus had ridden a white horse into Jerusalem, the Jewish zealots who wanted to overthrow Rome would have gone crazy. They would have seen Jesus as the conquering general ready to command the armies of Israel. Instead, Jesus came riding on a lowly young donkey. There is nothing threatening about a young donkey.
More than 500 years before this, the prophet Zechariah predicted this event: “People of Zion, rejoice! People of Jerusalem, shout with joy! Look, your king is coming to you! He is the good king who won the victory, but he is humble. He is riding on a donkey, on a young donkey born from a work animal,” (Zechariah 9:9 ERV).
Even though prophesied, this event goes against everything we long for in a Messiah. We want the conquering hero riding on a white stallion. We don’t want humility. We want to see real power in our leaders.
Jesus is the camouflaged savior. He doesn’t look the part. A few days after riding a lowly donkey into Jerusalem, Jesus died on a cross between two criminals. Jesus looks like a loser. Even Jesus’ own disciples thought all was lost. Everything changed when two of them peered into an empty tomb on Easter morning. Jesus’ resurrection turned apparent defeat into total victory!
When given the choice of riding a donkey or a white stallion, most of us will choose the stallion. We run to anything that promises enhanced prestige. We want the recognition that comes from riding the white stallion or driving the red Mercedes convertible.
When Jesus offers eternal life as a free gift that he purchased by bearing our sins on the cross, many refuse because they want to earn their salvation. It’s too humbling to merely believe in Jesus as Savior. We want to give God something. We imagine we can do something that puts God in our debt. We want control.
Religion offers many white stallions to ride. Jesus came to destroy religion or the idea that we can do something to earn our way into God’s favor. It was religious leaders who cried “Crucify him” when Roman Governor Pontius Pilate asked the crowd what to do with Jesus.
Think about this: Author Tullian Tchividjian once said that if you want to make people mad, tell them what to do. If you want to make them really mad, tell them there is nothing they can do.
Memorize this truth: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Ask this question: Are you trying to earn God’s gift of salvation? Or have you trusted in Jesus and his sacrifice for your sins and resurrection from the dead as your only hope for eternal life?
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Bible quotations are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
COPYRIGHT 2006 CAREY KINSOLVING