The Man on the Donkey


Seven-year-old Eli woke up early one morning listening with curiosity to the voices of his parents who were sitting at the kitchen table. Lying in his bed he could hear his mom say to his dad, “Dear, I would like to go and see this man who they say is the Messiah, the promised King of Israel.”

“Oh, I don’t know, Esther. Do you REALLY think he is the One they say he is? Can we believe all these rumors going around?”

“Well, Eleazor, I’ve spoken to several of our friends who say they’ve seen this rabbi and there a lot of things he’s done that could only be explained as miracles.”

“What kind of miracles do you mean?”

“You know Simon, the one we do business with at the fish market?”

“Yes, we go there all the time. What about him?”

“Well, Dear, I heard him say that his cousin actually saw with his own eyes this rabbi named Jesus from Nazareth heal a man who was paralyzed. There was a large crowd gathered at someone’s house to hear him teach. It was standing room only. No one could get in for many people were crammed outside the door trying to get a glimpse of this man. All of a sudden, the crowd which included many of our religious leaders, looked up as they heard this loud sound coming from the ceiling. Bits of tiles, dirt, and other debris started falling on their heads like snow. The next thing they knew there was this gaping hole in the ceiling above them! And then, through this wide opening, comes this lame man laying on a padded pallet being let down on ropes by a couple of men standing on the roof. The man was set right in front of the rabbi.”

“The nerve!” her husband remarked. “I’ll bet the owner didn’t like these men crashing their meeting!”

Young Eli smiled when he over heard his mother describing this scene. He could imagine the lame man telling the crowd, “Hey folks! I just thought I would drop in to see ya’ll!” (Note: Eli and his family lived in southern Jerusalem.)

Then the boy could hear his dad say in a doubtful tone, “Esther, that’s an interesting story, but I don’t see the miracle.”

“There’s more to it than that, Eleazor.”

He leaned forward in his chair listening with curiosity. She had her husband’s full attention.

“The rabbi looked at the paralyzed man and the first thing he said was, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.’ That really raised a moan from the scribes sitting there. They couldn’t believe the teacher would have the audacity to say he could forgive the lame man’s sins. They were thinking, ‘Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?’”

“That DOES sound like a very serious charge,” Eleazor said. “Besides, what good could come by anyone from Nazareth?”

“But wait ’til I tell you what he did after that,” she said. “After rebuking the scribes for questioning his authority to forgive sins, he turned to the lame man and said, ‘I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.’ And the man rose and immediately took up his pallet and walked out in the sight of every one!”

Eleazor slapped his hand on the table. “You don’t say! What did everyone do, Esther?”

“All jaws dropped as they watched in sheer shock and awe at the astounding sight. Here was a man who was moments ago totally paralyzed in a bed but then instantly started walking on his own two feet thanks to this rabbi. Realizing it was a miracle, the whole crowd started praising God saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’”

When young Eli heard this, his eyes widened as big as saucers. “Wow!” he said to himself. “I wish I could have been there!”

His dad said, “Sweety, that DOES sound like a miracle. Maybe there’s something about this man after all.”

“That’s just one story I’ve heard, Dear. Reliable sources like Uncle Laban and Joseph the Tanner report that this Jesus who goes about teaching repentance and the Kingdom of God has literally turned water into wine, healed lepers, cured persons with mental illnesses, walked on water, multiplied just a handful of loaves and fish to feed thousands of people, prophesied future events, and even raised the dead!”

When Eli heard, “raised the dead” he sat straight up in bed in great wonderment! “I just HAVE to see this rabbi!” he said to himself.

His dad was equally curious. “Maybe what they say is true. Only the Messiah, the Anointed One of God, could do all these incredible things!”

His wife said, “You know, Dear, these people I know from Bethany were saying that just this last week Jesus came to their village to the house of Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha.”

“Oh, yeah,” he said. “Isn’t Lazarus the one with some terminal illness?”

“Yes, he’s the one. The poor guy died. He was laid to rest in a tomb, which was a cave.  But Jesus didn’t make it to funeral. In fact, Jesus didn’t arrive at Bethany until a few days later. When Jesus got to their house he extended his condolences and offered comfort to the surviving members and friends. He was a dear friend of the man and his family.  But do you know what happened after that?

“No, what?” he asked with baited breath.

“It’s amazing!” she exclaimed. “He reportedly said something to Martha about being the Resurrection and the Life and that by believing in him, one could have eternal life.  But  when he observed all the mourners gathering around, Jesus was so moved with grief himself that he was also seen weeping over the loss of Lazarus. Everyone noticed how much Jesus loved him for he was a very close friend.”

Eli felt sorry for Jesus. He remembered losing a school friend a couple of years ago. The boy accidentally fell into a well and died. It was very sad.

His mother went on to say, “Then Jesus did something strange. He went down to the tomb and asked the onlookers to roll back the large stone which covered the cave’s opening. They tried to persuade him that since the body had been dead and buried for four days, the odor would be very unpleasant. But Jesus insisted and they moved the stone away.”

Eli couldn’t wait to hear what Jesus was going to do after that.

His mom continued, “Then Jesus looked up into heaven and prayed, ‘Father, I thank thee that thou heardest me. And I knew that thou hearest me always; but because of the people standing around I said it, that they may believe that thou didst send me.’ Next, Jesus, cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ And Lazarus came forth, alive! He was still wearing his burial wrappings looking like a mummy who has come to life. He told the onlookers to unbind him and let him go. I understand that many Jews believed on Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah right then and there.”

Upon hearing this astounding news, Eli could not contain himself any longer! He threw off his covers, jumped out of bed and made a beeline to the kitchen.

“Hey, mom and dad! Good morning!” Pointing at the sunbeams filtering through the window above the sink the boy exclaimed with a bounce in his voice, “What a lovely day it is!”

His parents could plainly see that Eli looked a little more cheery-eyed and sounded much more awake than usual at that time in the morning.

“Son, you seem to be alive so early today!” his mom remarked.

“Well, I DO feel alive because I heard you and dad talking about that rabbi, Jesus. When you two were talking about all those miracles and how he made Lazarus come alive, I guess in a way I also came alive just thinking about it!”

Mom and dad looked at each other and chuckled.

Then, like a starved beggar pleading for a morsel of food, Eli said, “Please, I want to see Jesus. I have to see Jesus the Messiah and promised King of Israel sometime, pretty please? I’ll gladly do any chores you want and won’t complain at all!”

His mom’s eyes glistened as she said, “Eli, I’ve got something to tell you. I was just about to tell your dad that Jesus is coming to our city today.”

Grinning from ear to ear, the boy shouted, “Awesome!”

“And I can see your dad is interested in seeing Jesus, too.”

“Yes, I too would like to go and meet this Jesus,” said his dad nodding in agreement. “He must be the One in whom many have come to believe. All the news about that rabbi sounds so marvellous and convincing. These many eye witnesses who’ve seen his miracles and heard his teachings cannot all be wrong!”

Looking at Eli, he said, “Son, we’ll leave right after you finish your breakfast and get dressed.”

Eli gobbled down his food and got ready faster than he ever did before.

Just as Eli and his parents were entering the city, hundreds of people were already gathering along the side of the street. It was hard to see over the throng of persons all trying to get a good look at this rabbi just about to arrive. There was a lot of excitement in the air. Voices were whispering, “Have you seen him yet?”

“No, not yet!” they replied.

Eli noticed a lot of children gathered as well. They along with their parents were holding palm branches. They were getting ready to wave the palms as a friendly gesture for welcoming this approaching King. Eli asked one of the bystanders who was holding a bundle of palms in his hands if he and his parents could have some to wave, too.

The bystander said with jubilation, “Gladly, young man! Here, take a few. This is a day for all of us to rejoice! The King is coming!”

At the same time, the scribes and Pharisees were standing on the street corner scowling at the people. Eleazor nudged his wife saying, “Esther, look! They appear somewhat angry about all the excitement over this famous rabbi.” He let out a sigh saying, “I’ve got a funny feeling these guys are up to no good.”

Just then, Eli and his parents heard a thunderous applause. The whole expectant crowd began cheering wildly as though they were at the arena watching a chariot race. Children could be heard singing gleefully, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!”

Eli said, “Dad, please put me on your shoulders! I can’t see over this crowd. I want to see him!”

Before he knew it, his big, burley father hoisted him up over his broad shoulders and there Eli could see the One he heard so much about.

Here was Jesus, coming down the street, slowly riding on a young donkey, in pomp and majesty, hailed by the throng as the King of Israel. While Jesus was humbly waving to the people they were waving their palm branches back and forth creating such a delightful sound along with a slight breeze. Garments were being spread along the path before him, sort of a red carpet treatment for honoring such royalty. Everyone was talking about him: “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee!”

Eli and his parents would never forget the man on the donkey and what took place that glorious day.  Nor would they ever forget the sudden turn of events just a few days later, when all their happiness would abruptly change to sadness, when this King would be mocked, beaten, and then killed on a cross. But their disappointment would not last long. For three days later, the greatest miracle of all would take place and their lives would never be the same again! Nor would the lives of all those who believe from that time on!

(References: “What good can come by anyone from Nazareth?” John 1:45-46. Healing of the paralyzed man, Mark 2:1-13; Matt. 9:1-8; Luke 5:17-26. Raising of Lazarus, John 11:1-46. Triumphal entry of Jesus, Palm Sunday, Matt. 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-40; Zechariah 9:9.)

This story, based on the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday, is only a snapshot of what is to come. For Jesus will come again riding down the streets of Jerusalem to his Holy Temple yet in even greater splendor. This time, instead of riding on a donkey, he is pictured riding on a white horse as a victorious conqueror coming to our rescue (Revelation 19:11-16). And he will be hailed by all his people as Hosanna, the King of Glory, in all power and majesty. The King of kings will rule all the world to set up God’s everlasting Kingdom over all the earth. What a glorious day it will be! You don’t want to miss it! It’ll be here soon! (Zech. 14:9-11; Matt. 24:30; Mark 13:26; Rev. 1:7; 5:1-14)

Here is Christafari singing, “Hosanna!”

Good News to YOU!
And Have a Blessed Palm Sunday as we begin Passion Week!
Pastor Michael

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