This Sunday, April 5th, marks the beginning of, what Christians call, Holy Week. It is the week that we remember the events that led up to Christ’s crucifixion. Today, as I read The beginning of Matthew 21, verses 1-11, I was struck by how Jesus rode two donkeys, a female and her colt. Jesus had told two of his disciples to go into the village where they would find a donkey tethered with her colt. The disciples did as Jesus said and brought back the donkey and her colt. This was to fulfill what Zachariah, the prophet, had said: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your King comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'” (Zechariah 9:9)
When the disciples returned, they put their cloaks on the donkeys for Jesus to sit on. (Matthew 21:7) As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, people spread their cloaks on the ground and waved palm branches in his honor. The crowds shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21: 8-9) Some people did not know who Jesus was and asked, ” Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
This was a day to honor Jesus before his horrible death. How fickle people can be! But, that’s not my purpose in writing this. I am reflecting why Jesus rode both donkeys and how it may relate to us, today. First of all, the foal was tied along with its mother, surely for protection. Knowing Jesus, he would never have separated the foal from its mother, knowing the distress both donkeys would feel. I can’t help but see how this symbolizes Christ’s love for us. He never leaves us to walk alone. If we are obedient to him, Jesus is right beside us to protect and guide us, even when we do not sense him there.
Another thought I have is that his weight was distributed on both donkeys, not just the mother. Could it be that Jesus didn’t want the mother, who had recently given birth, to shoulder the whole load? Again, it is just like Jesus to be like the mother donkey. He “takes the load”, when we are suffering, so that we can bear our troubles and afflictions. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Christ didn’t say we wouldn’t suffer. In fact, he said the contrary, but he promises to help us, strengthen us, and lighten our load.
I hope, as we continue to deal with COVID-19, that we will spend time, reflecting on Christ’s love for us and what he accomplished by dying on the cross. May God protect you and lead you, by his grace, to a place of forgiveness and a new appreciation of our salvation, through him.