Palm Sunday and congregations across the world are seeing palm branches waved during worship and hearing the story of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on the back of a colt, a young donkey. What did our pastor tell us? That we’re all a bunch of asses – well, donkeys that is. Before you jump all over him, I actually agree with him to an extent. Before you jump all over me, let me explain.
Donkeys have a reputation. They are known as being lowly, obstinate, stubborn creatures good for not much more than eating leftovers (or is that mules?) and doing hard work (when they are willing). That day – that lovely day when Jesus was welcomed with shouts of Hosanna – there was one donkey that was different. He was chosen to carry the King, the Savior of us all into the town that would eventually crucify him. That was one important ass.
Sometimes we all think that about ourselves don’t we? I sure have. My pride is often my downfall. We do things to serve Jesus – teach Sunday School, sing in a choir or praise team, run a committee, organize a mission trip, preach – and when we do a good job, people thank us or praise us. I’ve been thanked many times and told what a good job I’ve done. It feels pretty good. I like being told those things. Then my pride starts me along the path of thinking I’m somebody important. That the work of the church can’t go on without me. That I am one important servant. Then I start to sound like an ass (and I don’t mean a donkey here).
I’ve learned over the last year or so that I’m just a donkey. God has chosen me to serve in his church in special ways. Sometimes I’m stubborn. Sometimes I’m obstinate. I’m not very tall and I do like to eat the leftovers from most any snack/dessert/potluck that a church holds. I’m not that picky. And as a mom, I often get stuck doing the dirty jobs that no one else wants to do. That’s me, the donkey.
Yes, I am important; the donkey was an important part of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry. Yes, the church does need to use the gifts and talents that God has given me within the Body of Christ. Yes, I am special and I am chosen.
But I’m still just an ass.
What was that ass’ job on that day? To carry Jesus to the people. That’s my job too.
No matter how “important” I like to think I am – or other people want to make me out to be – I am simply a servant that is to carry Jesus to the people. In the end, I don’t want them looking at me, but instead looking upon the One who chose me, who gave me the privilege of being His transportation into a people who need His sacrifice.
Who knows what happened to that donkey after Jesus reached His destination. Sure, we read about that colt in the Gospels, but we don’t know the rest of his story. Maybe he went back to his owner and lived a simple life of hard work and servitude. Maybe he stayed with the disciples and became their travelling companion, continuing to carry their burdens and loads. Maybe he broke free, roamed the alleys looking for scraps and suffered under the chains of a master that enslaved him.
Whatever the case, I hope that I can be like the lowly donkey that day – only being remembered in the times that I proudly carried Jesus. May the times that I’m just an ass be quickly forgotten.