Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, symbolizing his entrance as a king bringing peace. Donkeys have a reputation for stubbornness. They also have a cross of black fur or hair that grows across their shoulders and down their backs. There are legends about how they got that cross. Some say the center of the cross marks where Jesus’ hands touched the donkey to get on. Others say the donkey followed Jesus to the crucifixion. Then, as it turned away from that horrible death, the shadow of the cross fell upon its back and marked it as humble and faithful.

Less than five days from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus is brought before a donkey of a man. A man that would not see him as king, support his innocence, or acknowledge his kingdom, except in jest.

Pilate asked Jesus these three questions in John 18:33-38:

“Are you the king of the Jews?”
“What is it you have done?”
“What is truth?”

If Pilate actually wanted answers to those questions he could have acknowledged the truth Jesus gave in response, either at that time, or later after Jesus rose again:

“Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me?”

“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Jesus rode the first donkey into town and the praises of the people. Then, Jesus rode Pilate’s pronouncement of death to the cross. All people, Pilate included, will be marked by the cross of Christ, but sadly, not because of faith. The cross on the backs of donkeys is a beautiful thing and can be a poignant reminder of salvation. But ornamental crosses do not make believers, and for some, the cross will be a mark of disbelief. Will you listen to Jesus’ declaration of truth and stand under his kingdom rule?

Pastor John Riley

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