Close To Jesus

Published 7:00 pm Friday, December 23, 2011

    “Go into the village in front of you, where on enteringyou will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untieit and bring it here,” Jesus said in Luke 19:30.

    The disciples did as He said, and the donkey carried Jesus into thecity, exhibiting the humility of Jesus.

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    Donkeys have never been an animal full of respect or grandeur. Theyhave never been a symbol of wealth and power.

    But to the owners of the animal, donkeys are loyal, compassionateand gentle, the perfect animal to carry Jesus.

    Dr. Natalie Herndon, who has a herd of donkeys, said they are sweetanimals with many legends surrounding them.

    The most popular one explains why donkeys have a fur pattern in theshape of the cross. All donkeys have a dark patch of fur, whichruns from the mane down the back and across the shoulder.

    It is thought that the donkey that carried Jesus into Jerusalemfollowed him to Calvary. The loyal animal wanted to help carry thecross but he was turned away.

    As he turned, the shadow of the cross fell on his shoulders, and itwas fixed on the fur as a sign of his compassion and devotion.

    Although many local clergy had never heard the legend, they wereall intrigued by it.

    The Rev. Wayne Webster, of First United Methodist Church, said hehad heard of the story before. Although it arises from devotionalthought, it’s not necessarily true.

    This legend, however, is just one of many surrounding donkeys andJesus, said Herndon.

    She said another one is that the big ears of the donkey Mary rodehelped guide her and Joseph to Bethlehem before the birth of Jesusbecause they traveled through a sandstorm and could not see theway.

    Herndon said donkeys are really tame and gentle animals and hersare good around kids.

    One year during Vacation Bible School, she and her husband took thedonkeys to the church, and the children were able to see what Jesusrode on Palm Sunday. She said the kids were really excited aboutpetting the donkeys and believed that the oldest male, Eeyore, wasthe actual donkey Jesus had ridden.

    “Eeyore’s been to church,” she said. “He knows about Jesus.”

    Donkeys may not be a common pet, but they definitely hold a specialplace in Herndon’s heart. The legends surrounding them show thatmany see donkeys as worthy of being close to Jesus.