I am continually captivated by the donkey colt that Jesus rode into Jerusalem. I share this fascination with many other, far-better writers than me, including (but certainly not limited to) GK Chesterton in “The Donkey” (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47918/the-donkey) and Mary Oliver in “The Poet Thinks About the Donkey” (https://www.instagram.com/p/CcKwgBjs4tU/). Let’s not forget the adorable children’s book by R.C. Sproul, The Donkey that Carried a King (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AieQexQmhA).
A desire for originality has prevented me from writing my own tribute to this donkey colt. If every writer waited for total originality, though, very little would be written at all, and that which was written would be isolated—unintelligible and irrelevant. So, instead of trying to be original, I’ll be traditional, joining the company of saints and authors who pondered the donkey that carried our King.
The White Horse
I imagine that the donkey who carried Jesus had stubby legs and a snuffly nose. Because he was not very tall and, being a donkey, would never grow to be very tall, the other animals often kicked dust right into his face. Whenever Roman soldiers passed by on their horses, he would hide behind his mother and watch, glancing up at them with fear and admiration. He was frightened by their gleaming hides and well-brushed manes. He admired their bulging muscles and strong hooves. When the thunder of their hooves faded, he would creep out and peer after them.
“I think I’ll be a soldier’s horse when I’m grown,” he would think to himself. He would never say so aloud, though, or his mother would call him silly and nip at his ears with a teasing donkey kiss. Instead, he would imagine himself as a big, beautiful horse. Sometimes, when his mother was away, working for their master, he would practice his trot. He picked up his little legs as high as they would go and strutted around as far as his tether would let him. Yes, he would make a fine military horse one day if he could just continue to grow stronger.
One day, as he stood outside his master’s house, the donkey watched as more and more people began to fill the city. Surely he’d never seen this many people before! He huddled against his mother’s side as the streets grew overrun. Even the soldier’s mighty horses had trouble moving through the crowds. Suddenly, the donkey felt very small.
“Be brave,” he told himself. “You’re supposed to be a soldier’s horse.”
But still, the colt grew more and more anxious. He’d never seen so many people—or animals—in his life. His spine prickled as his ears pressed back against his neck and his knobby knees knocked together. Then, he felt something else: a tug on the rope around his neck.
He shook his head so that his ears flopped from side to side, scattering some pesky flies. But the hands holding the rope did not let go. Instead, they led him away from the house—away from his mother! What was happening? He brayed fearfully but, being a good donkey, followed obediently where the hands led.
Before he knew it, another pair of hands were upon the rope, taking them gently and holding them steadily. He stood as tall as he could, hoping he seemed brave, but people and sheep pressed tight on every side. He could hardly breathe, let alone bray for his mother. He couldn’t see her anymore, nor could he see his master’s house.
“As it is written,” somebody murmured. “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Nobody else seemed to hear this voice, but the donkey’s big ears caught the words clearly. He felt a weight and a gentle flick of the rope. Timidly, he stepped forward.
The crowd parted, creating a path before him. Cautious, he took another step. Cheers broke out on all sides as people began hurling palm branches and even their clothing on the ground before him, covering the dusty street and beckoning him to march onward.
The little donkey knew what to do.
Standing as tall as he could, he processed down the newly-laid path, aware that the person on his back must be very important—maybe even a soldier! He walked as he had often practiced, with careful, high steps.
For the rest of his life, the donkey remembered this day. The day when no dust had been kicked in his face. When he had walked with a precious purpose. The memory of this day consoled him when he grew up and did not become a mighty horse. He was put to work like all donkeys, carrying burdens too heavy or too undignified for other beasts. When at last he could not rise beneath the burden laid upon him, he closed his eyes and dreamt of the palm branches and the cheering and the gentle hand upon the rope.
When the donkey awoke, he still felt the pressure of those hands. He shook his head, trying to regain consciousness. The hands remained, and his ears did not flop about as they usually did. Confused, the donkey rose to his feet and promptly staggered. He was not used to standing with such ease; it had become difficult lately, especially when carrying things. But now, he felt strong and tall. Tentatively, he lifted a front leg and looked at its hoof. He expected it to be dusty and worn, but it was polished and solid. Bewildered, he spun around, trying to glimpse his back hooves. His tail flashed behind him, well-brushed and snow white.
He squinted. Yes, it was white. No longer grey and rough. He tried to bray in surprise but, instead, a powerful neighing erupted from his throat. He froze. It couldn’t be. Was he—
“As it is written,” spoke a voice he knew well, even after many years, “Behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.”