Monday, March 23, 2015

A Donkey and a Foal

The Book of Zechariah (9:9) says, that the king will come, “triumphant and victorious”, and, “humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” This is a wonderfully dramatic event start to Holy Week and the Passion of Jesus Christ.

By the way, in Zechariah and in Mark’s Gospel there is only one animal. Both Matthew and Luke copied from Mark and all agree that this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the prophet. However, in Matthew’s version there are two animals. In Matthew 21:6-7, “The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them.” 

Now that’s quite a circus act, that is, if Jesus rode on both at the same time. In the Hebrew of the Old Testament only one animal is meant. It the Greek version, the version Matthew would have known, two are suggested. Perhaps Matthew intended two animals, Jesus riding a donkey with her little colt beside her. The point is that Jesus does not ride war horse; he rides the most unmilitary animal imaginable: a female nursing donkey with her little colt. As Zechariah’s prophecy says, the one who comes, riding a humble donkey will bring peace.

The next day, Jesus will overturn the tables in the Temple. The passion Jesus has for justice and his anger at injustice fueled his actions and brought him to the cross. During Holy Week the passion of Jesus challenges us to figure out what it means to follow Jesus through his death to the resurrection.

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