donkey | John 12.14-15
And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
John 12:14-15 | ESV
Meanwhile Jesus looked for the most appropriate vehicle for him to ride in this impromptu patriotic, martial parade: he found a wee donkey and straddled it – actually right on ancient prophet’s cue:
People of Jerusalem, Zion’s daughters, have no fear!
On a little donkey he comes, your leader draws near!
MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
What kind of car would Jesus drive? That question is often asked in our cultural debates over environmentalism and consumerism. “Surely it wouldn’t be a shamelessly extravagant sports car or a gas guzzling SUV!” And while that debate can and will continue to rage on, this Palm Sunday tale would seem to make clear that he wouldn’t, at any rate, at least on this occasion, have driven an armored car or an impressive black limo reserved for heads of state.
It would have been more like a beat up VW bus with peace signs spray-painted on it.
Warriors and conquering kings (or wannabe ones) rode in chariots or mounted upon white stallions, in their armor, clutching their sharp iron sword. Now, to be fair, Jesus is pictured as riding on a white horse in those apocalyptic visions of the book of Revelation – though notice that the only sword in the picture is the one coming out of his mouth.
There’s still no place for a weapon in the hands of Jesus – even when he shows up in apocalyptic scenes for his showdown with the Beast. His business was and remains that of beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks.
Each clop of the donkey’s hoof beat out a rhythm of peace, not of war and aggression.
And, significantly, when Jesus did enter Jerusalem, as the other Gospel accounts inform us, it was not the Roman fortress of Antonia he assaulted, nor the Greek theater, nor the sports center that was the hippodrome. It was the tables of the religious establishment he overturned in symbolic gesture, defending the worship space of the very Greeks who came to fill it and who ultimately sought his face.
This is the journey of the donkey, not the charge of the Light Brigade.
And for cross-bearers, it’s the journey of the donkey still.
What would it mean for you to ride into whatever conflict you might face today riding a donkey (as it were) rather than a white charger? How can you “beat swords into ploughshares” in your life today?
Abba, empower me to ride the donkey today, despite all expectations within and without to the contrary. Show me what it means to be a peacemaker. Show me how you would have me beat swords into plowshares that I might sow true peace in this world rather than just more of the same. Through Jesus.