Christian Short Stories
King On A Donkey
By John Miller
John is a retired Engineer doing prison ministry for Christ.
His entrance into Jerusalem is personal, deliberate. There is no armed escort. There are no chariots, no jeweled robes, no marching soldiers, no shining shields, no flashing helmets, no glittering spears, and no heralding trumpets. Yet, Jesus of Nazareth enters Jerusalem as a king - a conquering king - sitting astride a donkey colt.
As he crests the hill, Jesus stops to let the donkey rest a moment. He sees Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives just off to His right. The city is now cosmopolitan and swollen with nearly 250,000 Jews gathered from far and wide, preparing for the annual Passover. Herod's temple rises above an enormous platform, its tower rising over eighty feet to proclaim dominance of the Jewish population. Its Roman influence in design, as endorsed by Herod, is detestable to many city Jews. Yet, the Jewish homes and palaces that dot the hillsides are also designed with a Roman influence. These are the abodes of the rich Priests, merchants and their families living alongside the Romans, while lesser Jews live in crowded neighborhoods of simple homes and work the small shops that line the streets. Their collective lifestyle has become much like their alien oppressors, while their ancient culture holds remnants of sacred rituals born in the Tent of Meeting during the Exodus. Most Jewish hearts of this city are dark with hatred of the rebel Jesus, who is about to ride in to the city with the swarm of followers. The Temple Leaders have been informed of the unwelcome throng of rebel flesh by Temple spies who ran ahead of the King’s procession. Jesus knows all this and His heart is deeply saddened.
The growing crowd near the city gate presses upon Jesus from all sides. Some in the crowd are devoted disciples while others are curious followers of the Teacher. Some are those Jesus had healed in past encounters, yet consider him a mere prophet. Some are hoping to touch Him and be healed. Some want only to see a miracle or a sign, equating Him to magicians they have seen. The puppet spies for the Great Sanhedrin are once again among the crowd, eager to report to the court His every word and action. A few innocent children run alongside, their small hands resting on the flanks of the donkey, their young eyes fixed on Jesus. His Twelve disciples are scattered among the pressing crowd. None of them can imagine the horrific fate that awaits Jesus. The crowd’s intensity mounts. They toss palm fronds and lay clothing beneath the donkey’s feet, as Jesus passes them by. They begin to shout "Hosanna in the Highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." Jesus takes all of this jubilance into his heart and smiles at the crowd. His mind is elsewhere.
Jesus notices the stone sign that warns the non-Jew that certain death awaits him should he dare enter past a certain point into the temple area. Our King sees the poor, sick and wretched who must beg outside the temple gates and at the steps of the synagogues. The division of rich and poor, Jew and non-Jew stands as an indictment of a culture of pride and greed that pervades throughout the city. Mercy and charity are all but lost from God’s people. Man-made laws and Temple practices have dwarfed their reverence to the Books of Moses and the Spirit-breathed writings of the Prophets that point to their Messiah. They do not know Him as their King. The Great Sanhedrin plots to have the Romans kill Him. Jesus knows all this and his God-heart aches.
Memories of His youth briefly flood his mind. There were untold times of playing with children and quiet times spent learning to read Old Testament writings alongside His parents. His heart glowed, as He took hold of Spirit-breathed prophesy; His Father’s words that would shape His incarnate being. The nurturing arms and hands of Mary that comforted Him and Joseph’s steady hands that taught him His workman’s trade. A brief time in the Temple among the elders that brought anguish and scolding from His parents. Even then, Jesus knew He must be about His Father’s business. He remembered the loneliness that filled Mary’s eyes, as she watched Him walk away to begin His ministry. He remembered John’s eternal words of proclamation, ”Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” He choked on the memory of John’s cruel death, and the thought of His Apostles who would be martyred for the sake of His name.
Jesus’ mind turns to His last days and hours. He remembers recent hours in Bethany, where a woman anointed Him with precious oil, an act ritually performed upon the body to be buried. He knows that He has little time remaining to teach and comfort His Twelve Disciples, ordinary men who have walked with our Lord for three years. The Last Supper with them will bring joy and sorrow. Thoughts of His impending passion with false accusations, brutal flogging, betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the cruelty of Golgotha bore deep into his conscious. Even now, the hideous, soul destroying consequence of all sin that He must bear on the cross and that demands separation from His Father for a time begins its crushing force upon Him. Our King is silent. His emotions are hidden from the crowd.
At one point the young colt stumbles on a large rock and an unseen angel steadies the animal. Just then, a heavenly sound reaches Jesus' ears and He looks up to see tens upon tens of thousands of angels on the hillsides surrounding the city. Unseen and unheard by man, they illuminate the brightness of day, as they sing a majestic chorus of glorious praise to comfort to their Lord. Wings of unseen angels wrap around the Messiah King. His spirit is lifted by these heavenly messengers that stand ready to defend him, should he command. He does not. The cruel cross ahead of him is His alone.
Jesus knows that His redemptive suffering will become a divine weapon, a mighty sword in the hand of God that will conquer all heaven and earth and will overcome human death and the horror of hell. His path of incomprehensible suffering will turn into a glory road, a royal highway, and a Via Dolorosa! God’s immeasurable and incomprehensible grace will be poured out on a cursed Roman cross at Golgotha. The precious, innocent blood of the One and Only Deity will be spilled for all mankind. Satanic deception and demonic evil will forever meet their end. The incarnation of the total Word of God, the Lamb of God hung on that cursed cross, will become the holiest of God’s blessed sacraments. Days and hours, linear time in the hands of His accusers stand between Our King and the cross. Then, the Lamb of God will glorify the Father and the Lamb will be glorified, when He is lifted up for the entire world to see. “It is finished,” will be the sacred, redemptive last words our King will utter on the cross. Adam’ sin in the Garden of Eden and the sin of the last human believer on earth will be paid for in full, once and for all by His precious blood. Jesus will obediently accept His Roman cross that will become our Tree of Hope. His blessed, redemptive cross will be eternally iconic throughout the world: some will love it, some will hate it, some will ignore it - but none can deny it.
Our King quietly moves on atop the beast of burden. His mission’s goal to fulfill God's plan of reconciliation; a plan established in heaven before the creation of man that encompasses incomprehensible grace and endless love of sinners, is foremost in His mind. When the cross is behind Him, the Risen King, Son of God, will replace the torn curtain at the Holy of Holies. Mankind will then be able to freely go in prayer and petition to the Father, in His precious Name. Our God-King on a donkey contemplates the countless numbers of lost souls that the Father will call to salvation by faith in their Risen Savior. Jesus’ aching heart is comforted by His Father’s plan of Reconciliation. This Incarnate Redeemer will fulfill His Father’s unfathomable plan. He will obey His Father, even unto death.
Angels rejoice as Jesus contemplates His resurrection and ascension with an inexpressible inner joy. The living King and Savior of the word will rise from the grave to be witnessed by many and ascend home to heaven and sit at the right hand of The Father. God will send The Holy Spirit upon the earth to point the entire world to His Son. The Spirit will indwell, comfort and counsel those who become true believers in Jesus’ finished and redemptive work upon the cross. His Apostles will spread the Gospel of Salvation to all the earth. The Son of God will claim all believers in Him for his Father. The everlasting Church will be born in the Risen Christ and there will be unequaled, everlasting triumph in all of heaven and earth. Prophesy of the coming of the God’s Kingdom was being fulfilled!
It’s time. You’re standing there among the pressing crowd, just outside Jerusalem’s gate. Whether reader or listener, you’re there. You struggle to see past flailing arms and the colorful, cloth-covered heads of ancient humanity. You raise your arms to fend off the palm leaves they are waiving that brush close to your face. Ruddy, sunburned faces peer past you, as if you’re not there. But you see them and their eyes tell a story. Some are friend, some are foe. Some appear mildly curious. Their eyes are not looking toward the coming procession but dart about, seeking a path to escape from the swarm of onlookers. A mother stands nearby. Her red, swollen eyes reveal a breaking heart. You know of her. The cries of desperation and praise rise from the throng to reach its crescendo, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” The air about you is ionized. The hair on your arms and neck are statically charged. He is coming.
What will He look like? Fond memories of stories read and songs sung paint familiar images of the Jesus you love. Even if you’re an agnostic or atheist, there are images of Jesus known to you. You recall seeing the Infant Child in the manger, the Young boy seated among the elders of the Temple, the carpenter working alongside Joseph. Seemingly countless and varied images of Jesus on church walls, in painted murals along the freeway, on walls of old city buildings, on post cards in the shops and malls flood your mind. He is the Good Shepherd. He’s on His Cross. He is depicted as being white, black, Latino, Asian, Middle-Eastern. No, wait! Perhaps you’re from the new generation; a decidedly secular minded intellectual and politically correct. Jesus has been rationalized out of the “proper” society, out of your life. There are no images of Jesus! There are no mangers, no crosses. No hope. You’ve exhausted all avenues of lasting pleasure. Intellectual pursuits have run their course. Friends have faded when your money ran out. You know there has to be more. You know there must be a greater purpose for your existence. You’re unprepared for this encounter. How will you know this Jesus? If He weren’t atop a donkey, if you hadn’t been told about Him at some point, what manner of person would you expect to see?
He’s close by now. There is no crowd. There is just you and this King on a donkey. He stops in front of you, silent. He’s looking right at you with loving, understanding eyes that penetrate your very heart and soul. His eyes tell you that you are loved. He has always loved you unconditionally. You know it. What are you to Him? Lover? Doubter? Hater? Scoffer?
Jesus’ thoughts return to the pressing crowd that marks His procession into Jerusalem. Our King on a donkey enters the area of the Temple and all heaven holds its breath. "Hosanna!"
(© 2012 John Miller – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)
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