Background Texts: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19
The donkey awakened, his mind still savoring the afterglow of the most exciting day of his life. Never before had he felt such a rush of pleasure and pride.
He walked into town and found a group of people by the well. “I’ll show myself to them,” he thought.
But they didn’t notice him. They went on drawing their water and paid him no mind.
“Throw your garments down,” he said crossly. “Don’t you know who I am?”
They just looked at him in amazement. Someone slapped him across the tail and ordered him to move.
“Miserable heathens!” he muttered to himself. “I’ll just go to the market where the good people are. They will remember me.”
But the same thing happened. No one paid any attention to the donkey as he strutted down the main street in front of the market place.
“The palm branches! Where are the palm branches!” he shouted. “Yesterday, you threw palm branches!”
Hurt and confused, the donkey returned home to his mother. “Foolish child,” she said gently. “Don’t you realize that without Him, you are just an ordinary donkey?”
(Edited from Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice. Copyright 1994 by Youth Specialties, Inc.)
Humble people do not normally seek the limelight. Often, they are content just to be in the background. They don’t mind playing second fiddle or filling the role of stand-in. But when they are suddenly and unexpectedly thrust into the starring role, and all eyes are upon them, they are now required to act as though it was their calling and put forth their best effort toward completing the task at hand.
Prior to that “most exciting day of his life,” the young donkey didn’t expect to be any different than any other donkey in town. Though he’d never been ridden before, he probably figured that someday he’d carry his master like any other donkey. He could simply see himself in the background, doing what all other donkeys are supposed to do to make their masters happy.
But when he was suddenly and unexpectedly thrust into the limelight, and chosen for a special occasion, he had a different outlook. Now he was to be seen by the crowds who were offering cheers and chants of pomp and circumstance. No other donkey that he knew ever witnessed such royal treatment. Who ever heard of a donkey having palm branches waved before him and shouts of “Hosanna to the Highest” proclaimed as he strutted down the dusty street? But here he was, playing a role he’d never dreamed of before.
But wait! Who was the One who chose him to perform this honor? Who was One he was carrying on his back? Who was the One they were actually cheering with palm branches and hailing as their King? When he finally realized that he was only playing a supporting role—that the real Star being hailed as King was the One who sat upon him—only then could he realize what true greatness was all about. Once his mother brought him to his senses, he began to understand that only when you have him guiding your life, can you become more than ordinary but extraordinary.
As Christians, we might be content being ordinary. We might not mind being in the background, happy to be a second fiddle. It’s comfortable that way. But when Jesus calls us to fulfil the role of serving him, we are cast into a situation where all eyes will be upon us, to see if we’re going to live the life he wants us to live, to go where he leads us, to be what he wants us to be (1 Peter 2:9-10). In a way, we are in the limelight because people are going to watch us and test us to see if we’re following the faith we profess. After all, “You are the light of the world; a city set on a hill, that cannot be hidden…” (Matt. 5:14-16).
On the other hand, is it really all about us? The Apostle Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me,” (Galatians 2:20, New American Standard Bible, NASB).
Lest we think this calling falls on our backs alone, we must not be like the donkey and think that WE are the only ones people are watching. Reality sets in when we realize that they are actually looking to see if it’s Jesus they we are holding high in our hearts. Are we doing our best to play not the starring role but the supportive role for the coming King? Without him, we cannot expect to improve and be ready for the King’s triumphant entry. But with him, we can expect to change from ordinary to extraordinary as we eagerly look forward to that glorious day!
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity,” (Colossians 3:12-14, NASB).
Here is Mark Allen Chapman singing “Without Him”: https://youtu.be/nJG5g8GQZ4s
Good News to YOU!