A Lesson For Life From a Donkey
One of the great ironies in the gospel
accounts of Jesus’ last days on earth is the
story of His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.
We still remember and commemorate this
event each year on Palm Sunday.
The Bible tells us that Jesus sent two
disciples to find a donkey colt no one had
ever ridden before and to bring it to Him.
They did. And then they put their cloaks
across the little animal’s back for a saddle.
Then Jesus rode from the Mount of
Olives, across the valley and through the
narrow streets up to the gate of Jerusalem.
A multitude of people prepared the way for
Him, spreading their garments and strewing
branches from trees in His path.
“Hosannah!” they cried. “Blessed is He
that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Hosannah in the highest!”
So Jesus entered Jerusalem, and into
the Temple, with the adulation of the
multitude who hoped He would become their
new king. Sadly, only a few days later,
many of these same people would join the
throngs demanding that Christ be crucified!
But there’s a part of the story about the
Triumphal Entry that has always fascinated
me. It’s about the donkey colt Jesus rode
that day. That little animal has some
important lessons for us, I think.
The donkey was available
First, the little donkey was available,
ready to be used. Jesus knew the colt was
there and sent His disciples to the particular
place they could find him. And when
the animal’s owners were told that the
Master had need of the donkey, they willingly
let him go.
But the donkey was willing, too. Mark’s
Gospel says no man had ever sat on his
back. He was unbroken, untamed,
untrained. But he was available.
Why didn’t Jesus choose a larger,
better-qualified animal to carry Him — a
spirited riding horse, or at least the mother
of the colt? Why did He ask for such an
humble little animal?
I believe the reason might be to show us
that the Lord can use small things — if they’re
available and ready to be used. One doesn’t
have to have a great voice to sing God’s
praises. Nor is it necessary to have great
talent and training to teach a Sunday school
class. One need not have “a way with words”
to send birthday greetings, get well, or
sympathy cards to people who need to hear
from someone who cares.
Are you available? Are you willing to do
what you can for the Lord, however small
your talent or ability seems to you? There
is something you can do — God has given
each of us spiritual gifts to use in His service.
But we have to be available. Had the
little colt been hidden away where the
disciples couldn’t find him, he would have
missed having the Son of God ride upon his
Remember the story of the five wise and
five foolish virgins who were invited to the
marriage supper. When the bridegroom
came, the five foolish virgins were gone —
not available to go into the wedding.
How many times do you and I miss out
on God’s great blessings simply because
we’re not available when the Lord desires to
The donkey was submissive
I don’t know a lot about animals, but
I’ve been told that horses, mules, and
donkeys have to be broken, or trained, to be
ridden. They have to learn to accept the
burden of a rider and to respond to his
direction and guidance.
This wild little donkey had never been
ridden before — no man had ever sat on his
back. But when the disciples brought him
to Jesus and put a cloak on his back for a
saddle, he was submissive. There is no
record in the scripture that he protested,
bucked, or rebelled.
He couldn’t have known what was
happening, or what was ahead. One moment
he was standing peacefully at his mother’s
side — the next he was dragged away and a
heavy burden was put upon him. And as
far as we can tell, the little donkey submitted
to these strange events without a fuss.
How often do we balk and buck when
asked to carry out some assignment or bear
some burden? “Why me?” we cry. “Get
So often we tend to hold back until we
can see the end from the beginning. We
want to see the light at the end of the tunnel
before we go into it. We want to
understand everything happening in our lives
before we submit to it. But that’s not the way
life works. Submission is more than
agreeing just with what we understand and
How proud and presumptuous to say to
God, “Show me Your will for my life, then if
I like it, I’ll do it!” The Apostle Peter warns,
God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to
the humble. Humble yourselves therefore
under the mighty hand of God, that he may
exalt you in due time (1 Peter 5:5,6).
When God leads us to do something for
Him, rather than worrying about being
embarrassed, put on the spot, or even
misunderstood or disliked by other people, we
should submit immediately, trusting in Him.
We need to be willing to be led by the Holy
Spirit in such a way that we will obey —
blindly, if need be — no matter what God asks.
The little donkey submitted to Jesus… and so should we.
The donkey was unafraid
Can you imagine a more difficult and
frightening time to be ridden for the first
time than this colt experienced? He had no
preparation, no training. He is snatched
away from his mother by strangers, another
stranger gets upon his back, and he bears
his first burden through narrow streets
crowded with excited, shouting people,
waving tree branches and clothing,
crowding around him from every side.
Such an experience would be enough to
excite any animal and make him nervous
and skittish. But the little donkey didn’t
kick anybody or try to get away. He just
kept going along, carrying Jesus the way
He wanted to go.
I’m sure the Lord must have leaned over
and whispered to the little animal, “Don’t
be afraid. Don’t fear — I’m with you.” And
in the most confusing circumstances, with
the press of the multitude all around, the
colt kept calm and cool. He just kept on
doing what he was supposed to do, going
where he was supposed to go. And because
Jesus was with him, he was not afraid.
God’s supreme sacrifice
Bible scholars tell us there was great
significance in Jesus’ visit to Jerusalem at
this time, just before the Passover
sacrifices. The gate Jesus entered to reach the
city was the one through which people
brought their sacrifices to the Temple. No
doubt the streets were full of sheep and
lambs being led to the sacrificial altar. And
here comes God’s Son, riding on a donkey,
about ready to be offered up as the
supreme sacrifice for the sins of the world!
So, because he was available,
submissive, and unafraid, the little donkey played
a key role in one of the most riveting events
in all of history.
If the donkey could speak to us today,
what do you suppose he would say?
It would not be the first time a donkey
spoke. The Old Testament, in Numbers 22,
tells of Balaam’s donkey who chided the
prophet who rode him, for opposing the will
of God. The donkey saw what Balaam’s
spiritually blinded eyes did not — the angel
of the Lord with a drawn sword, standing in
If you listen very carefully with the ears
of your heart, I think you can hear the little
donkey’s voice even now. He’s saying —
“If God could use me, He can use you,
too. No one is too humble or insignificant to
have a place in God’s service.
“Just be available — stay where the Lord
can reach you. Keep an open heart, an
open, holy life.
“Then, trust God enough to submit to
Him. Don’t buck and kick against the
unknown. Decide that the Lord knows what’s
best and simply do what He asks. He’ll
never steer you wrong!
“And last, you don’t have to be afraid
when Jesus is with you. His presence, His
touch, will calm your fears and keep you on
track no matter what goes on around you.
“Maybe you’ve never done anything great,
or accomplished very much before. But
your life can be different. If you’re
available, submissive, and unafraid, who knows
what you’ll be chosen to do and how
important it may be to the world.
“After all, you’re even more important to
God than a little donkey such as I. And the
very first time I was ridden, I carried the