Summary: Valuable lessons we can learn by looking at the appearance, nature, and attitude of the donkey.
The Preaching Jackass
29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them,
30 "Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.
31 If anyone asks you, ’Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ’The Lord needs it.’"
32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them.
33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?"
34 They replied, "The Lord needs it."
35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.
36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
38 "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
You didn’t know that a donkey could preach, did you? It’s amazing what God will use to convey His message. I mean, He does say in verse 40 that if He has to, He will use stones to “cry out” his praise.
The first mention of a donkey is found in Genesis 22, where Abraham saddles him to go to Mt. Moriah to offer his one and only son as a sacrifice.
In Numbers 22, we find the story of Balaam’s donkey. He saw something that Balaam didn’t. Dumb animals, so-called, have more spiritual perception than some people. Three times the donkey saw an angel, so he left the road, crushed Balaam’s foot and laid down. Each time he was beaten. He finally spoke (God opened his mouth) to Balaam and complained about his treatment. Deut.5:14 says, “Don’t work your donkey on the Sabbath.”
Deut.22:10: “Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together.”
Judges 5:10: “You who ride on white donkeys…” (Song of Deborah; rich merchants, chieftans).
I Samuel 9:3: Saul was out looking for his father’s donkeys when he met Samuel who anointed him king over Israel.
Zech.9:9: “See your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Did Mary ride on a donkey when she traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem? Luke doesn’t specifically tell us that.
This creature preaches with his life. Notice some things with me about him.
1. His Appearance—nothing dignified about a donkey. You can look at him from any angle you like and you will fail to find what men call “presence.” He just doesn’t have it. And yet the Lord chose him above a beautiful stallion. In that part of the world at that time in history, a donkey was a symbol of peace—a true Jewish hero.
2. His Nature—awkward, obstinate, and yet the Lord saw something in him. I see a parable here. Whatever Christ touches, He dignifies. No matter how despised a person or creature may be, Jesus has a use for him.
• He uses all kinds of people—donkeys come in various colors: gray, brown, black and albinos; domesticated and wild
• He uses ordinary folks (disciples)
• He uses uneducated folks (John Bunyan, tinker; Wm. Carey, shoemaker; Wm. Booth, pawnbroker’s assistant).
• He uses handicapped folks (George Whitefield, crossed eyed, grotesque squint; Fanny Crosby, blind songwriter; Joni Erikson Tada, quadriplegic).
• He uses obscure people (farm laborer who rescued 6-yr.-old John Wesley)
• He uses the young (colt)
3. His Attitude
Even though his nature is stubbornness, we see here something quite different:
• He was available (vs.32)—willing to be used
• He was submissive (vs.30)—to his owner (tied up) and to the disciples (went with them) and to Jesus (let Him ride him).
• He was faithful ---a two-mile trip from Bethany to Jerusalem.
Illus.: “Man of War”
It was said of the great racehorse: “Some horses led him at the backstretch, a few led him at the far turn, but no one ever led him in the homestretch.”
Blessed is the man who makes a good finish. Some who are running the race of faith are quick out of the gate; some do well half-way; but God longs for those who have “spiritual stamina.” Able to subsist on limited food and water.
• He was useful. Known as a “beast of burden.” Job had 500 of them. Are we not called upon to bear our burdens of the Lord? Verse 34 says, “The Lord has need of him.” Consider some of the uses of a donkey: