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Stuck on Donkey Duty: The Significance of the Seemingly Insignificant Works

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

5 “Say to the daughter of Zion,

‘Behold, your king is coming to you,

humble, and mounted on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

As we prepare for Palm Sunday, an often-overlooked component of the triumphant entry story is the message of the two disciples Jesus sends to get the donkey he rides into Jerusalem. Within this story is a piece of the Christian puzzle missing from many of our lives.

Matthew 21:1-11


I get it; who cares about the two disciples Jesus sent to get the donkey? Compared to Him riding the donkey, people shouting Hosanna, and the religious people plotting to kill him, the story seems to lack significance. And honestly, I bet that is what the two disciples also thought.

Imagine their perspective; they had spent three years watching Jesus perform miracles, show signs of who He was, and oppose the toxic religion practiced by the Jewish leaders. Pair that with their anticipation that Jesus would enter Jerusalem and overthrow the Roman government, beginning His reign as King of the world. I bet the disciples were scratching their heads as to why Jesus wanted the donkey and, even more, why they had to be the ones to get it.

This would be like being at the big game when the lights go out, the sparks start flying, the team is coming down the tunnel, and your spouse tells you they need a drink from the concession stand. I picture my response being, “You know what, honey, you’ve made it this long without a drink. I think you can wait ten more minutes.” However, what the disciples failed to realize, and we often miss out on, is the significance of donkey duty.

Sometime after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven, Matthew realized that the event was prophesied in the Old Testament as a sign of the Messiah. These two disciples weren’t meaninglessly going to pick up a donkey because Jesus’ feet hurt. They were the instruments Jesus used to fulfill the plan God had promised for His life.

Everyone wants to be a part of the triumphant moments in the church. We love when it is evident that the work we are doing is for the good of the Kingdom. We love seeing people come to know Christ. We love taking part in baptisms. We love boasting about all the blessings we have. But do we love donkey duty?

How do we react when called to do things that don’t excite us? Do we enjoy the work we do that goes unnoticed? Do we appreciate the work that leaves us wondering why or if it is worth it?

There are plenty of people merely celebrating Jesus. What the world desperately needs are people who are ready to go on donkey duty. People who put their heads down and do what they are called to do, even if it is not exciting to them. There may be no glamour in this work, but through our obedience, God uses these situations to show the world the glory of who He is.

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