How many donkeys did the disciples procure for Jesus to use in his Triumphal entry? Sounds like an easy question right? But my little Sunday school image of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey, walking over palm fronds, didn’t include the mother donkey, tagging alongside beside the colt. The disciples got two donkeys for Jesus. Not one.
You’ll only find that account in one of the gospels. Matthew mentions it briefly. And I stumbled across this interesting little detail in my morning Bible reading, where I’m currently going through Matthew’s gospel a chapter at a time.
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…They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. (Matthew 21:1-7).
A few interesting points to note about this passage. If one of my students handed this in to me, I’d tell them that they needed to rework their pronoun and antecedent agreement. You can’t tell what Jesus is sitting on. “Them” could refer to the cloaks, the donkeys, or the disciples. You can deduce that it’s probably not the disciples, but it’s harder to tell if he’s straddling two donkeys. But Jesus wasn’t performing circus acts. Most likely, he’s sitting on the colt, atop the cloaks.
A mother donkey was a calming influence for a young colt, or so says my ESV Study Bible notes. Matthew recognizes the importance of this little detail, while the other gospel writers didn’t think it was necessary to include. It says that Jesus not only planned ahead to have a colt available, but he took the colt’s emotional needs into account in his plans. If Jesus can plan for a donkey colt’s future needs, well, he certainly can take care of an ass like me (sorry, I couldn’t help myself).
Am I the only one that misses these key details?