It’s been a fine weekend in Kenya.
Yesterday we spent the day hiking and climbing in the Great Rift Valley. More on that below.
Today was Palm Sunday and its significance was burned into my heart like never before.
It’s due to donkeys and palm fronds.
As we drove to church this morning, we passed crowds of worshipers carrying palm branches and singing as they neared their kanisa (church).
Many vehicles were adorned with palms, even the ever present Matutus (mini-buses) had palm branches tied to their grill.
Several churches were meeting along the roadside, waving their branches and singing in the fresh simple way that we’ve come to love.
It just opened the door for new insight on Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on the Sunday before his death. A full week before his resurrection.
Palm Sunday. That’s what it’s called to this day.
“So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Praise God! God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord!”*
We know the rest of the week’s story, but that doesn’t take away from this triumphant moment.
Then, there are the donkeys. I’ve seen more donkeys in my two months in Africa than my cumulative life. They pull every type of cart and contraption known to man. It bothers me how savagely the Kenyans beat their donkeys, but they are a stubborn breed the world over.
They’re a humble animal. Short and low to the ground, a face only a mother donkey could love.
It’s more than ironic that the King of Kings I worship, Jesus Christ, chose a donkey to ride into town on. Listen closely to John 12:14:
Jesus found a donkey and rode on it, just as the scripture says, “Do not be afraid, city of Zion! Here comes your king, riding a young donkey.”
It seemed more appropriate for Jesus to ride in on a white steed, or a chariot, or anything . . . but a half-grown donkey.
I mean no disrespect when I wonder if his feet were dragging the ground. But that donkey was symbolic that this was not your normal king. This was (and is) a King who stands strong in power but not in a worldly way.
A king riding on a donkey.
A donkey similar to the Wild Donkeys of Limuru Town. Limuru is the local market town about 5 km from our home. On the near side of town, near the train depot and dairy co-op, there’s a herd of what I call wild donkeys.
Last week I was waiting for a matatu ride at the edge of town when one of the donkeys came charging down the street, braying and kicking wildly. (This was just before three sheep walked through the honking traffic.)
As Mr. Donkey trotted off down a side road, traffic resumed. I glanced around for anyone following the donkey. There was no one.
Evidently, he was making his rounds about town.
I asked a Kenyan, “Whose donkey is that?”
He shrugged, “No one’s.”
Another man said, “It’s everyone’s. Whoever needs one, gets it.”
On every trip to Limuru, I look for the wild donkeys. They’re often grazing on the roadside, sometimes daring a lorry (truck) or motorcycle to run over them. It won’t happen. The donkeys are street-wise and the drivers don’t want to pay for a dead donkey. Because someone (or maybe someones) would claim ownership in the event of any accident.
I have a suspicion that this is just the type of donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on.
On a Palm Sunday so long ago.
I invite you on this Jesus-Journey** during what we call “The Passion Week.”
I firmly believe he is much more than a historical character from two millennium ago.
I believe He is the living Son of God who died (for our sins) and was raised to new life to prove two main things:
1. that our sin had been paid in full and
2. to prove He was exactly whom He said he was.
** “The Jesus Journey” is what I’m now using to describe a person’s relationship with Jesus Christ:
1. You’re on the Jesus-Journey with Jesus. He is King, Savior, and Lord (boss) of your life.
2. You are walking toward Jesus and wish to have this personal relationship that He called being “born again.” (John 3)
3. You are walking away from Jesus. I beg of you to stop, turn around (that’s repentance) and approach Him. His invitation is always open. It’s never too late.
Being a Louisiana flatlander, I’m always fascinated with mountains.
I’ll be blogging over the next several days about the unique geography of central Kenya.