More Like The Donkey

Sunday’s Scripture –April 5, 2020

Matthew 21:1-11


In Matthew 21, we read about Jesus’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.

The chapter begins with Jesus instructing the disciples to go and retrieve for him a couple of donkeys tied up on the outskirts of town. In her poem about this story, titled The Poet Thinks About the Donkey, Mary Oliver writes:

 On the outskirts of Jerusalem

    the donkey waited.

    Not especially brave, or filled with understanding,

    he stood and waited.

The disciples go and do as Jesus had directed them, and Jesus mounts the donkeys and begins to ride them into town. (Is anyone else wondering how Jesus rides two donkeys at once?)

Then, verse 9 says this:

“The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’”

Did you catch that? The crowd went ahead of Jesus. The donkey waited.

It’s such a temptation to get ahead of Jesus, isn’t it? Especially when everyone else is doing it. The trouble with being among the crowd, however, is that we too easily wind up crying “Hosanna!” on Sunday and “Crucify him!” by Friday.

It’s a lot harder to wait. To not be especially brave or filled with understanding. Waiting is about trusting deeper instead of trying harder. To wait is to trade in the illusion of control for surrender to God’s will and ways. Waiting forces us to trust God to fill us with His courage and His understanding. It’s pretty much the only way we won’t succumb to herd mentality. To not just be one among a wishy-washy crowd.

We want to skip ahead to Easter already, to the days beyond sheltering at home. But we can’t get ahead of Jesus. There is no glory of Sunday without the pain of Friday.

Perhaps we could stand to be a bit more like the donkey, who waited. After all, it was the donkey chosen to carry Jesus for his triumphal entry. It was the donkey who got to be close to Jesus while the crowds merely watched and shouted.



  • Are there places in your life where you’re trying to rush ahead of Jesus? For what things do you need to give up control? To wait instead of get ahead of Jesus?
  • Are there some ways in your life in which you are following a crowd instead of following Jesus? How can you draw near instead of standing among the crowd?

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