April 2, 2023
I imagine you have some idea of the story of the first Palm Sunday, probably because we just read the story. It’s been a year since the last one, though, so let me remind you of the basics. On Jesus’ last visit to Jerusalem, he sent two of his disciples to borrow a donkey for him to ride. As the donkey walked up into the city with Jesus on its back, people waved tree branches – palms, for the most part, I guess – and put their cloaks on the road to soften the donkey’s feet, and shouted a welcome to Jesus that also begged him to save them. It was a big, noisy, spectacle.
One thing the gospels leave out, however, is what the disciples said to Jesus when he told them to get a donkey, and what they said to each other as they were going to get it.
Here’s what I imagine they said to each other.
“Well, we lost that argument.”
“Have you ever won an argument with Jesus?”
“Well, no. But I was hoping this was the first time.”
“I was rooting for you. I mean, you were absolutely right. We should get Jesus a horse.”
“He said no.”
“I know he said no. But can’t you imagine Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a horse? It would be so cool.”
“Everybody would cheer. And then they’d follow him. He’d look just like a Messiah on a horse.”
“Yeah. And look! There’s a horse!”
Now I imagine the two of them standing there, looking at the horse.
“What a great horse.”
“And… Jesus said no.”
“He did. We lost that argument.”
“Here’s the donkey he told us to find.”
The two of them looked at it.
“The horse was better.”
“The horse was a lot more impressive.”
“The horse was royal.”
“He’ll look like just anybody on a donkey.”
“They might cheer anyway.”
“Why do you suppose he insisted on a donkey?”
“I don’t know. I mean, you’re a king on a horse. On a donkey, you’re just anybody.”
“A humble anybody.”
I’m not sure all that many people value humility these days. There weren’t a lot of people who valued it two thousand years ago. I think it’s worth pointing out, though, that one person who chose to be humble was… Jesus.
by Eric Anderson
Watch the Recorded Story
When I tell the story, it’s from memory – I can’t quite resist improvising in the telling!
The image is L’ânon de Bethphagé (The Foal of Bethpage) by James Tissot – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2008, 00.159.191_PS2.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10957484.