‘they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.’ (Mark 11:7 NIVUK)
Have you ever wondered why Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a little donkey? Certainly, it fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 but what was its significance? Let me suggest a couple of things to reflect on.
First, it pointed to the healing and redemption of all humanity. For weeks leading up to this moment, Jesus’ disciples were saying to him, “You’re the Messiah, the King who is going to bring the kingdom and save us.” To which Jesus upset them by saying, “Yes, I’m going to suffer, be mocked, tortured and killed.” This dumbfounded the disciples. How could he possibly bring in the kingdom if he is so weak that he suffers and dies? Then we come to Mark 11 where Jesus says, “I am going into Jerusalem, and rather than walk in I’m going to ride.” That’s more like it Jesus, you ride in because you are a person of importance, you are a conquering king to kick the Romans out and bring in the kingdom. But then he chooses to ride in on a little donkey the most unlikely of animals. After all, who rides on a donkey? Only someone weak and powerless. And so, this little donkey was a prophetic witness to the fact that Jesus is going to bring in the kingdom and save them, but not in the way they thought. The vehicle for his victory is his weakness and suffering, and his powerlessness and death. This is what will heal and redeem all humankind.
Secondly, the little donkey pointed to the renewal of all nature. In verse 2 we are told that this little donkey has never been ridden. Now if you know anything about animals, you’ll realize what happens the first time a person jumps onto a horse or a donkey that has never been ridden before – it will buck them off. The animal must be broken in first. But not so with Jesus, because nature is already broken and is groaning for restoration
(c.f. Romans 8:22). As he enters Jerusalem Jesus is showing that he is Lord over creation. This little donkey knew immediately that Jesus was its master, and its mild submission was a prophetic witness to the restoration of all the created order in him. It will be a time when
‘…the earth [is] glad…the sea resound[s], and all that is in it…the fields [are] jubilant, and everything in them… all the trees of the forest sing for joy…[and] all creation rejoice[s] before the LORD…’ (Psalm 96:11–13)
If this little donkey could speak, as Balaam’s ass once did, I think he might have said, “Look at the one whom I am carrying, he is the healer of humanity and the restorer of all creation, journey with him.”
Father help us to see Jesus through the eyes of this little donkey, as our healer and Lord.
Have a good week following the healer and Lord.