Reading: Matthew 21:1-11
What a different story we would be telling today if the owners of the colt, or donkey, had refused to let the disciples take it. Maybe we would have no record of the story of the triumphal entry, at least not in the way Jesus wanted it. It doesn’t matter how unknown a person is, he or she can still play a crucial role in the unfolding of God’s plan.
God needs each of us just as he needed the unnamed owners of that donkey in the reading. We are not told who the owners were, but the fact that they understood that ‘the Lord’ referred to Jesus, and they voluntarily gave up their donkey, shows that they were at least His admirers, or maybe even secret disciples. Otherwise, they might have answered “But who is this ‘Lord’ who needs my donkey?”
A donkey was a very valuable asset in those days. It was the equivalent of a car, a truck and a tractor all in one. It was a car because people used it to move around and to shop for provisions, a truck because it was used to carry loads, a tractor because it was used to cultivate the land for growing crops. A vital resource for livelihood.
And this donkey had never been ridden, so it was young and new, and had a very high market value. So giving up the donkey just because the disciples said the Lord needed it was a very big favor and sacrifice. Actually, it was a generous, trusting and sacrificial act of faith.
We might ask ourselves how this faith response of the donkey owners compares with ourselves.
The writer Max Lucado in his book ‘And the Angels Were Silent’ reminds us that each of us has a donkey the Lord needs.
“Sometimes I get the impression that God wants me to give him something, and sometimes I don’t give it because I don’t know for sure, and then I feel bad because I’ve missed my chance. Other times I know He wants something, but I don’t give it because I’m too selfish. And other time, too few times, I hear Him and I obey Him, and I feel honored that a gift of mine would be used to carry Jesus to another place. And still other times I wonder if my little deeds today will make a difference in the long haul.
Maybe you have these questions too. All of us have a donkey. You and I each have something in our lives, which, if given back to God, could, like the donkey, move Jesus and His story further down the road. Maybe you can sing or hug or program a computer, or speak Swahili or write a check. Whichever - that’s your donkey. Whichever - your donkey belongs to Him. It really does belong to Him. Your gifts are His, and the donkey was His. The original wording of the instructions Jesus gave to His disciples is proof: “If anyone asks you why you are taking the donkey, you are to say, ‘It’s Lord is in need’ [Max Lucado, And the Angels Were Silent p54].
Whatever the name of your donkey is, the Lord has need of it. And on this Palm Sunday, so disrupted and different as it is from how we usually want to celebrate it, Jesus calls us not to stand on the roadside and cheer, but to walk with Him on His way. We are not to be spectators, but participants. Committed participants. So, let us praise and cheer Him in our hearts, but let us also join that procession and go with Him, not stand and watch Him pass by, and leave us behind.