Be an Ass

There are two types of people in the world; some who read that title and go “Huh?” and others who go “Yes! Permission to annoy!” But that’s not what this post is about. I’m talking about a different kind of ass. I’m talking about a donkey that was tied up on the outskirts of a village one day, minding its own business, unaware he was about to carry the most important load in his life:

“As they neared the outskirts of Jerusalem and came to the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples on ahead.
“Go into that village over there,” he told them, “and just as you enter you will see a colt tied up that has never been ridden. Untie him and bring him here. And if anyone asks you what you are doing, just say, ‘Our Master needs him and will return him soon…”
So the colt was brought to Jesus, and the disciples threw their cloaks across its back for him to ride on. Then many in the crowd spread out their coats along the road before him, while others threw down leafy branches from the fields.
He was in the centre of the procession with crowds ahead and behind, and all of them shouting, “Hail to the King!” “Praise God for him who comes in the name of the Lord!”, “Praise God for the return of our father David’s kingdom!”, “Hail to the King of the universe!”
(The Gospel of Mark 11:1-10)

That donkey was taken from its home, brought to Jesus and then carried him into Jerusalem. But why him? People were going crazy for Jesus as he entered the city; calling him ‘Lord’ and ‘King’ and praising God with songs. There were people everywhere doing whatever they could to prepare the way; laying down their cloaks or tearing palms branches off trees to cover the dirt on the path. This was the grand entrance for the King that God had sent His people!

So why a donkey?

Surely Jesus could have chosen something better. The rich and the powerful – they had carriages or chariots, pulled by horses, camels or even people. But a donkey? It doesn’t quite seem fitting for the King of Kings.

Well there was a reason. You see it was foretold that the Saviour would enter Jerusalem this way:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey

Zechariah 9:9

500 years before Christ was born, a prophet in the book of Zachariah paints this picture of Israel’s King riding into Jerusalem, bringing peace and freedom to Gods people. On a donkey. A simple and modest animal carried the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Son of God made man into Jerusalem – and into history.

I want to be like this donkey.

To be someone who carries the Lord into our world; someone who brings him into the lives of those around me, giving every person an opportunity to meet the one who loves them.

So I’ve got three tips on how you too can be an ass:

1. Be Humble

Jesus was intentional about getting a donkey to carry him. It’s not flashy, it’s not particularly pretty and it’s not this great big animal that will stand head and shoulders above everything and everyone else. We don’t need to be flashy, we don’t need to show off and we don’t need to be the centre of attention. Christ does. Know who it is you are bringing to people.

It’s not about us, it’s about Him. Stay humble.

2. Be Willing

Another way of saying this is ‘be obedient’. I don’t know about you but there’s something about that word ‘obedient’ that’s hard to swallow. Like it’s asking me to ‘just do as I’m told’, no questions asked. And really, that’s what it is. That donkey didn’t put up a fuss, it just went where it was led. Because that’s what donkeys are meant to do. But for us human beings with free will, with our own desires and our own plans, being obedient to someone else is a lot harder to do!

Maybe it’s not obedience we need to think about, but trust? Do we trust that God wants the best for us; do we trust that God will let us be who we want to be? Or are we scared that he’s going to ask for too much? God tells us that he has ‘great plans for us, a great future, great hopes’ (Jer 29:11). We have to ask ourselves, are we willing to trust him?

3. Come As You Are

There’s one last thing that stood out to me in that story:

‘Just as you enter, you will see a colt tied up that has never been ridden. Untie him and bring him here.’ (v2)

A colt who has never been ridden. A colt is essentially a young male donkey, and one that’s ‘never been ridden’ implies that it was quite young. Ever felt like that? That you are too young? You’ve never done this before? Jesus doesn’t want to wait until you’re older, till you’ve have more experience or till you… (fill in the blanks). Surely there’s someone who could do a better job than you??!!

Here’s the thing: Jesus doesn’t need someone who can do a better job, he needs you to do your job! Just be yourself and be available. At the end of the day, a donkey does what it’s told to do, it goes where it’s told to go and it’s carries who and what it’s told to carry. We can do SO much more than that.

So yeah, maybe we’re not meant to be an ass – but we sure can learn from them.

By Tash Mierendorf