In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. –Luke 2:1-7
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
“Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”–Matthew 21:1-5
Have you ever thought about the prominent role that donkeys play in God’s Word? I don’t know about you, but the topic of donkeys and their biblical significance isn’t exactly one that crosses my mind on a daily basis.
Recently, however, I started thinking about donkeys more. My family and I went to the Grand Canyon!
It was incredible and more expansive than I could have imagined! As we walked on a trail winding down into the canyon, I realized that this was one of the trails people ride mules (a mule = 1/2 donkey, 1/2 horse) on. That was mind-blowing because these trails were so skinny and the drop-offs were so deep! The riders must have trusted those donkeys a lot…with their lives!
Just as Grand Canyon explorers need to have absolute trust in those mules, Mary must have had trust in her donkey as well. We read about Joseph and Mary travelling to Jerusalem in the Luke passage above, but the Bible isn’t specific as to how they got there. Common belief, however, states that Mary rode on a donkey. The Son of God came to this world via pregnant Mary trusting a donkey with her life and the life of her child. How crazy is that?!
The topic of donkeys isn’t restricted to the New Testament. In the Old Testament, we see an encounter with a man named Balaam who disobeys God and his donkey. Donkeys weren’t exactly known for their brains, and that’s why when Balaam’s donkey begins to speak with him in Numbers 22 Balaam has a major freak out attack! God then explained his sovereignty and mercy to Baalam through the object lesson of his very own donkey.
So what’s my point here? Well, sometimes life has steep drop-offs, like the Grand Canyon. Sometimes there are a lot of unknowns. But today, and tomorrow, and this coming year, let’s hang on tightly to Christ. Let’s trust him to guide us, as the Grand Canyon explorers trusted their mules. Let’s praise him for his omniscience and be thankful that, unlike Balaam’s donkey, he has more wisdom and power than we can even imagine.
Let’s rejoice this Christmas.
We have a High Priest (see Hebrews 4) who is the Lord of the Universe and our personal Leader.
Whatever this new year brings, we can face it with confidence, placing our hope and trust in the hands of the One who is more than capable and who is filled with love and wisdom.
This Christmas, when you see a donkey, don’t just think “Awwww so cute!” and continue on your way. Stop for a moment and realize that, just as the donkey faithfully carried Mary on the long journey to Bethlehem, Christ wants to carry you through this long journey of life until you reach your final destination: his presence.
xoxo and Merry Christmas!