Witness to the King on a Donkey
He’s coming. You’re there among the noisy, pressing crowd outside Jerusalem’s gate. You struggle to see past flailing arms and the colorful, cloth-covered heads of ancient humanity. You raise your arms to fend off the palm leaves they are waiving that brush close to your face. Ruddy, sunburned faces peer past you, as if you’re not there. But you see them and their eyes tell a story. Some are friend, some are foe. Some appear mildly curious, some are gleeful. Some don garments of wealth and some are beggars. Others have a look of hatred; these Temple spies nervously dart their eyes about, as if they know that their thoughts are exposed to Him. A few are crying.
A woman stands close by. Her face is drawn from exhaustion. Her eyes, red and swollen, reveal a torment from years of knowing; a prophecy spoken to her by old Simeon in the Temple is about to be fulfilled. Her heart is breaking. You know of her.
Cries of desperation and praise rising from the throng reach a crescendo, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” The air about you is ionized. The hair on your arms and neck is statically charged. You feel His presence, even before you can see Him beyond the pressing throng of gawkers. You have the sense that tens of thousands of unseen angels are covering the hillsides, whispering words of comfort to their Master. An unspeakable peace wraps you in awe and wonder about this Jesus, the Messiah. He’s coming.
“What will He look like?” you wonder. Memories of stories read and songs sung paint images of Jesus in your mind. You recall images of the Infant Child in the manger, the young boy seated among the elders of the Temple, the carpenter working alongside Joseph and the man baptized in the Jordan. Your mind is flooded with the seemingly countless and varied images of Jesus on church walls, in painted murals along the freeway and on walls of old city buildings, on post cards in the shops and malls. He has been depicted as being white, black, Latino, Asian and Middle-Eastern.
He is the centerpiece on Facebook for many Christians. Countless slogans use him in the sale of wares. He is depicted as Master, Savior and, all too often, as an errand boy. Is He like any of those images? Is He the homeless man, bearded and dirty that you ignored on the street yesterday. In your mind you know this Jesus has possessed a place in your heart for a long time.
Or, perhaps there was no room for this Jesus in your heart. You’re unprepared for this encounter. If He weren’t atop a donkey, if you hadn’t a vague recollection of stories having been told about Him, if the pressing throng of ancient flesh was not praising and pleading, what manner of person would you expect to see? If the scene before you was not a spectacle would you even care?
Why are you there, just beyond the city gate? What does He want from you? He’s coming.
He’s close by now. The young donkey’s hooves clogging on cobbled stones slow to a stop. There is no crowd. There is just you and this King on a donkey. He is in front of you, silent. Jesus. He’s ordinary in appearance, yet indescribably beautiful! He’s looking right at you with loving, understanding eyes that penetrate your very heart and soul. His look tells you that you are known and loved, that He has always loved you unconditionally. You know it. He has created every cell of your body and owns your heart, soul and mind and the gasping breath that finally escapes from your heaving chest. “Hosanna!”
What are you to Him? Lover? Doubter? Hater? Scoffer?
You’re at the gate.
Story by John Miller