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A Silly Ass!

Or a role model for us?

Each year Palm Sunday is when we focus on Jesus’ journey into Jerusalem.

Many different groups were involved on the day. There was so much happening with the crowds, the religious people, the soldiers and the disciples of Jesus. There was Jesus himself of course, but there was another significant participant - the ass.

Have you ever ridden a horse, a donkey, an ass?

More to the point, have you ever ridden an animal that isn’t used to humans, has just been taken away from its mum and is then subjected to the strangeness of someone getting on its back for the first time in its life in the midst of a circus parade or grand procession?

In other words, have you ever ridden on the back of a totally wild animal?

Jesus did! And he wasn’t trained for it. He wasn’t a horse whisperer.

But he was and is the Son of God.

The journey to Jerusalem presented challenging circumstances for Jesus so what was it like for the ass? Did it panic and throw Jesus off and bolt for it?

No, the animal had Jesus on its back and that made all the difference as they faced what lie ahead together.

Happy occasions

Together they faced happy occasions (Mark 11:9-10). But, as we can see from the passage, happy occasions can be just as scary as any other with all the shouting and singing. Was this a problem for this baby? No, it had Jesus on its back.

 Sad/difficult occasions

Together they also faced sad and difficult occasions (Luke 19:41-44). What vibes was the animal picking up here. Yet with all the sadness and heartache he was experiencing there must have still been something about Jesus that gave comfort to the animal.

 Times of conflict/persecution

Together they also faced times of conflict and persecution (Luke 19:39-40). How did the disciples react to the Pharisees’ rebuke? Did they take it calmly. Were they unperturbed, well, ‘a bit of opposition, what’s that, bring it on, you can’t scare us?’ We don’t know how they reacted but I wouldn’t have thought it was a picnic.

 But what about the animal, was it scared? If it was it didn’t do what scared animals normally do, even those who are used to being ridden. It had Jesus on its back.


Times of stress

Together they faced times of stress (Mark 11:8-9). Was all this waving and throwing down of palm branches easy to handle? Not even the most well trained Police horse would find this a piece of cake. So how did this baby animal, missing its mum, coping with all the strangeness of someone on its back, and now this stressful situation, how did it cope? No problem! It had Jesus on its back.

 We’re Wild!

We're all wild animals (ie: our carnal nature - Romans 8:5-7; Galatians 5:19-21) till God gets a harness on us (Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:22-25).

 So, ask yourself, what kind of ride are you giving Jesus? Nice and easy, or has he fallen off?

We face similar circumstances in life, and it's in these circumstances that people see Jesus in us or not. The lesson of Palm Sunday is that with Jesus (on our back) we can go through all the circumstances of life with confidence and thus proclaim Jesus is here - he's alive.

We need not fear - he enabled the donkey to walk in peace in the right direction, and will do the same for us too.

The key:

The key is a true understanding of who Jesus is (Matthew 16:16). Not what we want him to be (like the crowd on ‘Palm Sunday’).

 The donkey’s response shows the power of love and the power of the cross. Something of Jesus was communicated to the animal - his love, his peace, his authority.

Jesus said: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5).


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