“Say to the Daughters of Zion,
Behold your King comes to you,
Gentle and riding on a donkey,
On a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9)
If you listen to the above prophecy from the Old Testament prophet Zechariah and read the account of the first Palm Sunday in Matthew’s gospel, you could easily think Jesus rode two donkeys into Jerusalem.
“Go to the village ahead of you, there you will find a donkey tied there with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.” (Matthew 21:2)
So why two donkeys? If we read further accounts of the Palm Sunday story we are told that the colt had never been ridden before. In cases of a young donkey carrying a rider for the first time it was usual for its mother to walk beside her colt to reassure it and keep it calm. This is what would have been happening in the Jesus’ Palm Sunday ride into Jerusalem. As it happens Mothering Sunday falls on the first Sunday in March this year, Palm Sunday on the third and Easter on the fourth. Like the young donkey on Palm Sunday I am sure most of us will be grateful to our mothers for “walking beside us” in our early years giving us the benefit of her experience, care and love. This the church gives thanks for on Mothering Sunday – 6th March.
On Palm Sunday we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem when he was proclaimed as king, the true Son of David, only to be rejected by the same crowd less than a week later and handed over to the Romans to be crucified. When we worship Jesus in church each Sunday it is important that we take care to acknowledge his kingship every day of the week and not to reject the strengthening love he offers for our lives.
Difficult circumstances in life are such that sometimes we feel even though we are physically alive we are spiritually, “among the dead.” Easter is the time when we celebrate that Jesus is no longer in the tomb – “He is risen!” Like the mother donkey with her young colt the risen Lord Jesus offers to walk beside us no matter where we are in our lives or how we feel. He comes to calm our fears and reassure our doubtful minds that no matter what – he is there with us. “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)
The enduring message of Easter is summed up by St Paul whose meeting with the risen Lord Jesus changed his life – and it is this:
“Nothing in all creation is able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)