My eyes kept running over these verses. The intricate detail Luke gave us in his epistle-account. “Which no one has ever sat.” The Son, part of the Father, declaring “[I have] need of it.”
I know I can be as stubborn as a mule. And while referring myself, or any of us, to a donkey, isn’t appealing off the cuff, think about it…it would be so ornate and splendid to be so.
These words are like honeycomb dripping sweetness, when the imagery and metaphor is discovered. What Jesus could have been saying, if the Spirit is leading my interpretation correctly, is paramount on declaring the value Christ gives me – gives each of us. Hopefully, we are already aware that His love for us abounds higher than the tallest mountain or the scope of the limitless Universe. Still, if you’re anything like me, I am still dense and forgetful of this tender truth, many times in my life. Reminding is ever-needed.
This tender moment speaks to a delicate understanding of my Maker and Savior’s definition of my worth.
Let’s look at the donkey whom Christ asked for. Let’s dissect this creature, and move from there.
Donkeys were prevalent in Jewish and Hebrew culture. While they were used for manual labor, livelihood, and for cheaper aid in farming, they were regarded as sturdy, resilient creatures.
Having a horse was a sign of richness or even nobility – the donkey was the commonplace symbol.
Think blue collar vs white collar. The use of the donkey, in many parts of scripture, was to symbolize the lack of dependency on material wealth. The Jewish people used the chamor (Hebrew word for donkey) for numerous purposes, including riding when needed.
Abraham used one to carry vital supplies for the journey to the mountain where he was to sacrifice Issac, Moses placed his wife and children on the backs of the animal for the expedition to Egypt to lead God’s people out of bondage, and Mary trekked the long road to Bethlehem atop one to give birth to Christ.
When you look at three of the versatile and various ways the chamor could be and was used, you can see God’s divine purpose at the forefront and how the reference of the donkey’s function was described. The Jews relied on the donkey for almost any thinkable hard, physical labor.
It is a strong animal, able to hold much weight.
It is not impulsively fast, if anything, it’s slow and stubborn, yet at least it will get the job done well.
The donkey was of great value to the daily lives of the Jews.
Now, forward many years later in culture, to the time of Luke’s account.
Jesus entreats two disciples to go into Bethany (the assumed village as they were nearing Jerusalem), and instructs them to find a colt so that He may ride into the city.
However, Jesus asks for a particular colt.
A specific donkey.
He knows which one the disciples will find. He wants that one.
Furthermore, not only does he ask for this one, but he gives the detail, I think, for the disciples benefit. For my benefit. To understand why he is asking for the qualities in even this animal: “which no one yet has ever sat”.
Now, here I pause again. Because as I just described, the donkey was an extremely useful creature. If you had one, he was important to you, and you made immense use of him. So why, in this village or anywhere, would there be one tied up, unused and seemingly unvalued by whomever owned it? It is a very unusual situation.
I don’t have an answer for that, but it was something worth thinking upon. It was something Luke was careful to mention, that Jesus asked for this colt. He knew it would be tied and bound. Not in service. Ready to do that which He had specific plans for.
This donkey was unused until Christ called him out. To use for Himself. That awes me.
He also knew who possessed the donkey, and what they would say. “Why are you untying it?”
I envision the owner standing there, perhaps leaning haphazardly against a door frame, wondering why in the world someone would want that donkey. Knowing that he, the owner, wasn’t using it for a reason. It was good-for-nothing. Didn’t respond well to what he wanted it to do, was too young, not smart, etc. “Why are you untying it?” The owner wasn’t angry. Luke didn’t say the owner was incredulous saying “Leave that colt alone! That’s my donkey. I need it.” It just seems he didn’t care at all, but merely asked out of curiosity, because who would have use of it? What worth could that donkey possibly have for anyone to desire it?
“The Lord needs it.”
Can you see it now?
We are the donkey.
I am that colt.
I am often in bondage, though admittedly I tie my own knots more often than not.
I’m there, in the sweltering heat of a dusty town, in “service” to someone who thinks my worth is zero – who leaves me tied.
If this “owner” had his way, I would stay tied, unused and wasting away an existence.
But God desires me.
Christ himself, has me in mind. Even on Calvary, I was on His mind. He had you in mind as well. Another version reads: “The Lord has need of it.” There are unknowable, wonderful ways God desires to use you. Are you letting Him? Are you pulling back, staying tied out of convenience, out of fear for the unknown?
Follow where you’re being led, for a wonderful relationship awaits you. Not by someone who wants to own you or dictate you, but who wants to love you, enrich you, show you the best paths along the most refreshing streams, that you may experience life, abundantly and eternally.
The One who fashioned the folds of the earth, the curves of your heart, delights in you.
He sees your worth, and it is anything but small.