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Five Mysteries Of Palm Sunday: The Mystery Of The Donkeys
Larry Shepard

Five Mysteries Of Palm Sunday: The Mystery Of The Donkeys

On the first "Palm Sunday",  Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem riding on a young donkey.  Why did He do this?  The simple answer is that He was fulfilling the prophecy found in Zechariah 9:9-10.  He presented Himself to Israel as their King, the "Prince of Peace".  This is confirmed by Matthew 21:4-6.  However, the question remains, Why donkeys?  This mystery can be uncovered by:
understanding how donkeys are symbolized throughout the Bible, and 
deciphering the parable of The Fruitful Grain Of Wheat in John 12:20-26

Donkeys In The Bible
Donkeys are mentioned more times in the Bible than any other animal.  Studying these passages carefully gives us clues that we need to solve our puzzle.  I  have included references in the More Links area
below  o aid you in your own research. 

How The Creator "Made" The Wild Donkey     
In Job 39:5-8, God describes how He "made" the wild donkey::

"Who set the wild donkey free?
Who loosed the bonds of the [wild donkey],
Whose home I have made the wilderness,
And the [c]barren land his dwelling?
He scorns the tumult of the city;
He does not heed the shouts of the driver.
The range of the mountains is his pasture,
And he searches after every green thing."

 God asks Job if he knows WHO loosed the bonds of the wild donkey.  This is also a good question for us to consider.  The description of the donkey is very interesting.  It seems that God patterned the donkey as a type of the Gentile (non-Jewish) nations and their history.  Re-read this passage after you finish this article and study the attached references.  The pattern pictured by the nature of the donkey should then become clearer.

Donkeys, The Only Unclean Animal That Could Be Redeemed!


In Exodus 13:11-15, "The Law Of The Firstborn" is dictated to Israel.  Here we discover that the donkey is the only unclean animal that God commands Israel to "redeem".  In this strange passage, God commands the firstborn sons of Israel and donkeys be redeemed by slaying a lamb!  This ritual sacrifice is an amazing picture of a future day when the Lamb of God (Jesus) would be slain to redeem both Jews and Gentiles from sin.  

The Fruitful Grain Of Wheat (John 12:20-26 NKJV)

This passage reveals how Jesus responded to a request by a group of Greeks (Gentiles), to have an audience with Jesus.  

"Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast.  Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
Philip came and told Andrew, and in
turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.
But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.  Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much [fruit].  He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me,
him My Father will honor."

At first glance, Jesus' response seems to have nothing to do with the Greeks or donkeys for that matter.  However, if you have been following  the Parable Power blog, you have learned that within this parable there is hidden treasure!  

The Greeks Do Not Get To See Jesus 
It is interesting to note that Jesus did not give the Greeks an audience.  The scripture begins with a, "But He answered".  Jesus is saying that it is not the time for communion with the Greeks, something else MUST take place first. 
  “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified...".

I AmSent To The Lost House Of Israel

The request of the Greeks is similar to the story of the Gentile woman in Matthew 15:21-28 (read it carefully).  The point is that the "time of the Gentiles" (when they will be blessed with  Israel) had not yet arrived.   However, after the grain of wheat (Jesus) dies, that time WILL come.  The death of Jesus provided redemption for both Jews and Gentiles.  Romans 11:24 says that Gentiles were cut out of a "wild" tree (same nature as the donkey in Job) and grafted into a "cultivated" tree.

"For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?" 
   
Jesus' death opened the door for Gentiles to become heirs to the promises of Abraham (Galatians 3:27-29).  In the parable of the Grain of Wheat, Jesus is sharing that His focus is on the Passion Week mission which will result in His death and glorification.  His death will enable both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles) to have eternal communion with Him.  In other words, His death will bring forth much fruit.  Notice the usage of the word  "anyone" in the parable.  From the beginning, God's plan was to redeem all nations.

 Jesus Rides On A Donkey

The donkeys in the Triumphal Entry remind us that although Jesus' ministry was to the Jew first, God had the nations in mind on Palm Sunday.  The Greeks, who failed in their quest to see Jesus just before 'Palm Sunday', were not forgotten during the Triumphal Entry.  Jesus ensures that donkeys were included in the ride to Jerusalem.  This inclusion was a sign that the Gentile nations were very much a part of God's plan of redemption! 

 I love this commentary from the article, "Donkeys In The Bible" (see below).  This gives us another perspective of the donkeys in the Triumphal Entry.

"Donkeys in the Bible and today—as an animal, they have served us well.   May we be like Christ's donkey, willing and set aside, patiently waiting for our Master's touch that we may fulfill the tasks the Lord has ordained for us to accomplish."

 

Be sure to check out the other articles in this series:

The Triumphal Entry - Part I

The Triumphal Entry - Part II

Five Mysteries Of Palm Sunday

The Mystery Of The Day

 

NOTE:  Due to a computer failure, article data in this series has been lost.  We will publish more articles in this series as soon as this data is recovered.

 

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Larry Shepard

Larry ShepardLarry Shepard

Larry is the founder and visionary of the Parable Power Network. His mission is to ignite a passion for God's word and to see the Power in the Parable elevate people to exemplary living.. Larry has served in various Christian ministries for over 40 years; including teaching in Bible Schools and as a Senior Pastor.

Other posts by Larry Shepard
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Full biography

Larry Shepard committed his life to Jesus Christ over 40 years ago. During those years, he worked in evangelistic radio and publishing ministries. He has served as an Education Director, Special Ministries Director, Associate Pastor and as a Senior Pastor. Larry has studied and taught at Cornerstone Theological Seminary. He also developed and taught classes at The Texas Institute of Biblical Studies. Larry worked in Corporate America as an IT professional and developed software for numerous small businesses. He lives in Houston, Texas, and is married and has two children and two grandchildren.

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