Summary: Like Donkey 1) Located; 2) Loosed; 3) Led (Outline adapted from Philip Sims.)
“The Donkey” (by G. K. Chesterton, 20th century English author and poet)
When fishes flew and forests walk’d
And figs grew upon thorn
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings
The Devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things
The tatter’d 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 beneath my feet.
I thought this poem might be the best way to introduce myself. Yes, I am that donkey, the one who carried your savior into Jerusalem on what you call, “Palm Sunday.” As the poet noted, we donkeys are a bit freakish with our big ears and our bothersome braying. We’re not prized like stallions or feared like bears, but I hope you’ll listen to what I have to tell you because you and I have more in common than you think. Just as I was located, loosed, and led on that first Palm Sunday, so are you, dear Christian. You too have been located, loosed, and led by Jesus. I want to help you understand how wonderful that is.
Let me be clear: this talk is not about me, the donkey; it’s about Jesus. Without Jesus there would be no Palm Sunday, no humble king to carry into Jerusalem to sit upon his splintery throne of the cross lest you be eternally lost. So let’s talk about Jesus. Do you know what he had been up to before Palm Sunday? He had spent time in Jericho where he had healed a blind man, and then hung out with a tax collector named Zacchaeus. From there he walked to Bethany where he enjoyed a meal with his friends Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus – the very Lazarus Jesus had recently raised from the dead. Jesus then started out again for Jerusalem but before he had gone far, he told two of his disciples to fetch me, the donkey. That command should have struck his disciples as strange. Except for his fishing boat cruises on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus had walked everywhere else. Why did he suddenly now want a ride for a couple of kilometers? It was to fulfill the words of the Old Testament prophet, Zechariah, who had written five hundred years earlier: “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).
Long before I was born, God knew me. Oh more than that. He had a plan for me! You see, you and I are not that different. Before you were born God knew you, says the Apostle Paul who wrote to Christians living in Ephesus: “For [God] chose us in [Christ] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:4, 5). If you’ve ever felt that no one cares about you; if you’ve ever wondered what you’re doing on earth, believe me, I know how you feel! We donkeys are kicked around and made fun of all the time. Why, even my fellow donkeys didn’t think much of me because I was still a little colt and hadn’t ever carried anyone yet when Jesus sent for me. But it doesn’t really matter what others think of you. What counts is what God thinks. And God does think about you. He has thought about you for a very long time – since before he created the world! You are someone that God wants to spend an eternity with. But for that to happen, I had to deliver Jesus to Jerusalem. So let’s get back to our Palm Sunday story.
When Jesus told two of his disciples to fetch me, he gave them detailed instructions as to where they would find me and what they should say if asked why they were taking me. The disciples found everything just as Jesus had said. What does that tell you about your Savior? It tells you that he knows all things – even what’s waiting for you around the next bend in the road! Therefore you can be certain that Jesus is never going to send you on a wild goose chase, no matter how crazy his directions to you might seem.
I was surprised when the two disciples showed up looking for me. You see at that time I didn’t know anything about Zechariah’s prophecy. Even if I had, I wouldn’t have dreamed that I was the donkey to carry the Savior. Before I could be of any service to Jesus though, I had to be located. And that’s true of you too. Jesus once said that he came to “seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). God has been seeking sinners since Adam and Eve fell into sin. It has to be that way because sinners don’t seek God. They either think they don’t need to because they believe they’re not that bad, or if aware for their sin, they’ll run and hide and blame others for their shortcomings.