13th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Donkey

DECEMBER 13: Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly; O Daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, Daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey (NASB)

Zechariah tells the people of Jerusalem that their king, their Messiah, will come to them riding on a donkey. At the time Zechariah wrote this, common people used donkeys for transportation and to help them in their work. Kings rode on horses. It had not always been that way. The first kings of Israel rode on donkeys, but after the time of Solomon they started using horses.

For the people of Israel horses represented war and donkeys represented peace. By the time Jesus was born, the Jewish people were looking for a King who would free them from Roman rule. They expected this to happen through warfare. But God did not send His Son to bring political freedom. He came to bring freedom from bondage to sin and to establish peace with God.

The donkey not only represented peace; it was also a sign of humbleness. Jesus was not born in a palace, but in a lowly stable. He was born into a poor family and spent most of His time with the poor. No one would expect a king to live this way. Through His birth and up-bringing, Jesus identified with the poor and lived a life that enabled Him to understand the struggles that millions of people face every day.

Zechariah’s prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus rode into Jerusalem a few days before His crucifixion. When they saw Him riding on a donkey, the people recognized this as a fulfillment of Zechariah’s words. That is why they cried, “Hosanna!” and threw palm branches and their coats on the road in front of Him. But they were still expecting their king to fight to free them from Roman rule; they did not understand that Jesus is a king of peace, not of war.

The donkey is often a part of the nativity scene because Mary may have ridden to Bethlehem on a donkey. Next time you see the donkey in a crèche, remember that the donkey symbolizes the humility of Jesus and the peace that He came to bring.

Good Christian men, rejoice,
With heart and soul and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say:
Jesus Christ is born today,
Ox and ass before Him bow
And He is in the manger now.
Christ is born today!

John Mason Neale (1818-1866)

Thank God for Jesus’ example of humility; and for the fact that Jesus came to earth bringing peace.

Ask God to help you to follow Jesus’ example and humbly serve Him and also serve some of the poor in the world.

O Lord Jesus, I will embrace you who become a little child for me. In my weakness I clasp you who became weak for me. A mere man, I embrace you who is God made man. You came a man as poor as I am, and you rode into Jerusalem seated on a humble donkey. I embrace you, O Lord, because your lowliness is my greatness, your weakness is my strength, your foolishness is my wisdom.

Aelred of Rievaulx (1109-1167)


1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Fritz Blaze Says:

    This is a very inspiring article which has made my knowledge better about advent symbols.

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