The Donkey And The Cross

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Simone Lake photo

A female donkey and her baby.

One of my favorite animals is the donkey. Don’t know why, but I have always had a great fondness for them. Ever since I can remember, as a young child growing up and also throughout my life as an adult, I have always been amused by this gentle creature. It didn’t matter if I was at a ranch, farm, zoo or wherever ... if there were donkeys, I would be there. I loved to join in with others, petting, watching and desiring to get closer in order to observe their mannerisms. Not only am I fond of the donkey, I am partial to their relatives (half-siblings) the mule also. Last summer when a group of us hiked the Grand Canyon from rim to rim, what broke up the monotony when we were close to switchbacks near the bottom? A train of about 12 donkeys and mules, with packs and people riding them, slowly ascended upward past us. Stopping and leaning up against the canyon as they passed, I was the only one petting and greeting the donkeys while everyone else greeted the leader and person riding on top of each donkey passing by.

To this day, whenever I drive up to my church in Pine, turning from Beeline onto Randall Road, I always find myself looking toward the right beyond the multiple fences, to the obscure abode of “Goody.” This donkey is hidden far from the road, barely seen, tightly secured to the fence. One would think that I would be captivated by the beautiful horses whose gated home is near the road on the left. Especially when they are faithful to come to the fence when my car passes by, or when their grazing is so peaceful to look upon and their frolicking in the grass or snow is so breathtaking. Although I do notice the horses, my eyes and heart always ends up looking for Goody, not forgetting this gentle creature that is unnoticed and almost forgotten hidden in the back beside the barn.

This past Christmas while attending a Christmas play, we arrived early making our way through a parking lot filled with cars, people going in, kids running with excitement, animals lining up outside and those in costumes reciting their lines ready to perform. After going inside to get a close-to-the-front- seat, I just could not sit still. Looking at my watch to assure there was extra time; off I went ... Where could one find Simone? Yep, you guessed it, outside, with all the other kids looking at all the animals. I was on a special quest. A donkey search! Looking past all the people camels, sheep and other animals, I was determined to locate my object of search. I just knew there had to be at least one. The donkey is seen in almost every Christmas play and movie carrying Mary, pregnant with Jesus the Messiah, with Joseph leading the way to find the manger. Not to mention the shepherds who heard the angels proclaiming Jesus’ birth. Culture would have assured them having donkeys in addition to their sheep as they watched in the fields. The very nature of this annual Christmas performance in and of itself confirmed that there would be at least one donkey somewhere.

Then they came, about eight donkeys getting out of vehicles with the help of their owners holding them on leashes. In the midst of this donkey herd, was this precious baby donkey, born only some hours prior. She easily became the center of attention and the star of the bunch, drawing all eyes and attraction to her. The mother of the baby donkey had her own protective, watchful eyes on her newborn, and pulled to get closer when they were separated by the crowd. Needless to say, all the children who were petting the other animals left them, and came running to pet the baby donkey. Photographers for the play were taking pictures and children were bending down to pose with the baby donkey as parents were giving direction behind their cameras. I even went back to my car to get my camera.

Many years back I decided to find out a little more about this humble, gentle animal that persistently tugs at my heart. After researching and collecting data on my own, I learned more about this animal from the perspective of the Creator as well as those who work with them. Many of my former students from my days as an English teacher at Payson High School have also helped in this unofficial research. From their own everyday experience in 4-H club, working on their families’ ranches and farms, they too added insights about this docile creature. Sometimes referred to as an ass, donkeys are domesticated animals and a great help to mankind, known for tirelessly and effortlessly carrying items both on flat land and up and down canyons, hills and small mountains. They are often referred to as “lowly” and “humble” because they are so patient (which helps a lot when tirelessly lugging things and people around). Yet on the other hand, they are also known for their stubbornness, as witnessed to by the fact that we as humans sometimes, and not in the kindest way, refer to people who are stubborn as being one.

Burros (as the Spanish have named them) are also known as a mode of transportation — used by soldiers to carry equipment in the midst of battles and as the common vehicle lowly and humble people in America and many other countries.

The most interesting fact about a donkey is its design. Did you know that adorned on the back of a donkey is the image of the cross? Granted, this is no mistake, this crucial component is most often barely noticed. God’s DNA design of each and every donkey is a cross that starts from the head and goes all the way down the back to the tail and across from shoulder to shoulder. Regardless of the animal’s age, it always has this cross on its back — in tan, black, brown or white hair. Imagine being adorned with the very symbol that Jesus carried and willfully hung on. The cross, which is known to this day for the glorious deed done by His obedience. A glorious deed, that reaches throughout all generations and ages bringing hope, promise, love and reconciliation.

All this research was fascinating! I tell you, donkeys are just my kind of animal. There is this theory I have about donkeys, I think they smile. Whenever I look at a donkey, any donkey, I can see a smile on their faces. The reason it is smiling, I believe, is because it is proud to be in the lineage of the hand-picked animal that was selected for an extremely important task. If nothing else, my theory amuses my loved ones and always keeps me in remembrance of what a particular donkey did and whom he did it for.

With God as director of this world, I am convinced that He is quite fond of donkeys! Out of all different kinds of animals on this universe, He hand-picked this particular kind of animal to transport Jesus, His only begotten Son during the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This triumphal entry was a celebration party with Jesus being the guest of honor. Crowds of people welcomed Him with cheers and shouts saying “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Son of David, the King of Israel!” The people declared with much enthusiastic approval of His authority as Lord and Messiah. Many, many years prior, in B.C. 520, Zechariah, one who proclaimed of God’s Word, predicted that Jesus the Messiah would come. Zechariah called the people of B.C. 520 to join with rejoicing of this futuristic party, a triumphant celebration honoring Jesus. Zechariah was the host of the pre-party, way before the actual party took place. He was faithful in calling others to a time of rejoicing and celebration.

Zechariah spoke, with these divine words, telling us three valuable and important facts: 

1) The character and personality of Jesus the Messiah: He is just, righteous and lowly.

2) Jesus the Messiah will have with Him Salvation.

3) We (the people) will be able to identify Jesus the Messiah because He will be riding on a donkey.

This month, as Resurrection Sunday, also known as Easter, approaches, we can join in on this party also. Celebrating that Jesus the Messiah has risen indeed and is currently seated on the throne, on the right hand side of God in the heavenlies. No longer carrying the cross, but instead currently and actively praying over us.

REJOICE AND GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST!

The greatest promise fulfilled! Not only can we rejoice, we can smile, with reassurance knowing that each person regardless of race, gender, status or ethnicity has the opportunity to come and to know Christ as their risen Lord and Savior.

A party indeed! The great love of God, the obedience of the Son and the faithfulness of a donkey ... who gently brought Christ to His triumphal party. Now, I know why the donkeys smile. I would, too, if my ancestors had been hand-picked by the God of the Universe for such a glorious task.

Scripture:

Matthew 21:2-7 — Triumphal entry-party honoring Jesus

Zechariah 9:9 — The one who many years prior proclaimed the future triumphal party

Matthew 27:33, Mark 27:33, John 19:17 — Jesus bearing the cross on Golgotha

Romans 8:27, Hebrews 7:25 — Jesus currently praying for us now

About the author

Simone Lake a full-time minister serves in her calling in the areas of Bible teacher, speaker, missionary, mentor, chaplain and author. She holds a master’s degree in theology and attends Church on Randall Place where she serves in various capacities alongside her husband, Pastor John Lake.

Read more about her work and upcoming events at: simonelake.com and simonelake.blogspot.com

Current Bible Studies

New Bible studies coming soon. Call (928) 595-0837 for more information.

Speaking itinerary

International Student Prayer and Spiritual Disciplines Retreat, April 4 and 5

April Mother and Daughter Tea, Saturday, April 25 at Mountain Bible

Medical Strategic Network — Summer 2009 teaching and training for health professionals

Missions

May 2009 — Ecuador: teaching, training and leadership development for nationals

Summer 2009 — Virgin Islands: teaching, training and leadership development for nationals

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