Part 2 of our Easter Freestyle Series
By Project Worker Julia Leech
The Owner of the Donkey
As with many parts of the Bible, the Easter story has several ‘behind-the-scenes’ moments which are only mentioned in passing, and not fully explained.
One of these moments happens when Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem, and he tells his disciples to go on ahead where they will find a donkey, which they should untie and bring to him, and if anyone asks they should just say “the Lord needs it”. Sure enough, they find the donkey and say this to the owner, who then willingly lets them take the donkey off back to Jesus with no further questions.
Why does the owner do that?? It’s the kind of thing that’s easy to gloss over in a familiar story, but the owner has just given away a valuable animal to the people he found ‘acquiring’ it simply because they gave a good enough explanation. None of the gospels fully explain the owner’s thinking, but there are several possibilities.
Did God tell him? He might have had a word from God beforehand, saying that he’d find some people untying his donkey that afternoon because ”the Lord needs it” and that he should let them. If that was the case, he might have dismissed it at first, thinking it was an unlikely and strangely specific scenario and he was probably making it up. It might have been quite a surprise when it actually happened – a surreal moment, but at the same time very real, a tangible realisation that God knew who he was and had a plan for him. If that’s what happened, it was a pretty significant day for that man.
Or maybe it wasn’t that the owner knew it was coming beforehand – maybe it was the moment when he realised who the donkey was being taken for that brought out the best in the owner, when he realised he had enough faith and trust in Jesus that he would gladly give anything Jesus asked for. If that was the way the owner felt, he must have felt honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to God’s plan. If that’s what happened, then what a beautiful gift it was when God enabled that man to give.
We can’t really know how accurate these possibilities are, or whether there is a whole other explanation entirely. What we do know is that God involved the owner of the donkey in his plan, and subsequently the owner was given a fundamental part to play in the Easter story. We don’t even know the man’s name, but whoever he was, God did a wonderful thing for him that day.
Perhaps this is similar to when John says, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:15). There is always more to stories of God’s action and love in the world, because God’s work is much too extravagantly detailed to summarise in a paragraph, and touches far more people than we can comprehend.
Luke 19: 28-40
Matthew 21: 1-11
Mark 11: 1-11
John 12: 12-16