Monday, December 10, 2012

The Donkey

Song: "Oh, Come All Ye Faithful" (Hymns 202)

The Donkey has been used as a working animal for at least 5000 years. They make the perfect work mates as they walk at about the same pace as people and tend to be able to do more work for their size than any other beast of burden except mules. Donkeys are thrifty and don't need the high protein a horse or pony requires. They are patient and long suffering to boot. Often donkeys will work without even a halter or bridle and will stay with their masters all day working willingly.  

Although donkeys have a notorious reputation for stubbornness, it is likely based on a stronger prey instinct and a weaker connection with man. It is very difficult to force or frighten a donkey into doing something it perceives to be dangerous for whatever reason. But, once a person has earned their confidence they can be willing and companionable partners and very dependable in work. 

("Journey to Bethlehem" by Joseph Brickey)

The scriptures leave us clueless as to whether Joseph and Mary had a donkey to help with their journey. The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem was about 92 miles long; a trip that would have taken them about 4-5 days. In addition, the last leg of the journey would have been the hardest of all. Jericho is the lowest city on the globe, and Jerusalem and Bethlehem are situated right in the top of the hills - about 3,500 feet uphill. Having gone through two pregnancies, I cannot imagine how exhausted Mary would have been after this journey whether or not she had to walk the entire way. I like to think that a little, loyal companion took upon some of her burden by letting her ride a part of that journey. 

Christian tradition holds that donkeys originally had unmarked hides, and that it was only after Christ's entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey that they received the dark cross on their backs. 

(image via here)

As the legend goes, the donkey that carried Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday refused to leave the Master and continued to follow Him even as he was arrested and sentenced to the cross. The donkey was there as Jesus hung on the cross, but he couldn't bear to watch. So, he silently stood by with his face turned away. The shadow of the cross fell across the little donkey's back and left the mark that was passed on to all the donkey's children as a symbol of the donkey's love for Jesus and Jesus' love for us all.

Of course, this is a legend only, not Biblical truth. But the truth is just as wonderful as the story - that all of the donkeys were created with this mark of the cross, bearing testimony to the true story of Christ's love for man and His ultimate sacrifice for our redemption.

The hairs from the cross were widely believed to cure a number of ailments, and were often worn in a charm around the neck to guard against whooping-cough, toothache, fits, and to ease teething pains in babies. 

How can we be like the donkey? 
We can be loyal and helpful, easing one another's burdens, showing them love just as Christ has shown His love for us. Can you think of someone who needs your help? Someone who has a burden that you could lighten, just a little? It is through our hands that God works His miracles. 

Credits: Wikipedia - Donkey, Ram Horn Studio

For a list of the rest of my Christmas Devotionals, see this post.

1 comment:

  1. i love the Donkey and the Foal. love the Legend of The Donkey.


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