It is a comical animal in some manner of speaking, the donkey; its appearance and peculiar ways. Yet, it has the reputation for being mean and stubborn. In reality, donkeys are friendly, social creatures. Researchers believe that donkeys can establish lifelong connections with other donkeys.

Donkeys also are considered by many people to be dumb, based on their stubbornness. Their obstinacy, however, is a trait that stems from their inbred instinct for survival. When the animal fears for its safety, it will stand its ground rather than run away; more prone to fight than flight.

It is a strong animal. Just ask anyone who has tried to force a donkey to go forward against its will. It can pull a load up to twice its weight, so a human tugging on the rein will have minimal success.

In fact, the donkey may have been the first animal referred to as a “beast of burden,” a reference to its ability to carry loads of excessive weight, and for long distances. Historians have evidenced that donkeys have been in existence since as far back as 4000BC, and have long worn the reputation as a beast of burden.

In the eleventh century, the French began celebrating “Feast of the [Donkey].” The January 14 event was a Christian festival honoring all donkeys of the Bible, and especially commemorating the flight of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus to Egypt soon after his birth. The family was escaping Herod the Great’s assassination of young boys at the time.

The festival included a journey of a girl and a child on a donkey being led through town to the church, where the donkey would stand beside the altar during the sermon. In the 15th century, the “Feast of Fools” and other like festivals — including the Festival of the Donkey — were banned by the Catholic Church for the ‘blasphemous extravagances’ that were displayed.

An ancient Hebrew prophet foretold of Jesus, the Messiah, riding into Jerusalem on a beast of burden, the foal of a donkey. The Gospel writers of the Bible recorded the event that occurred just as the prophet had said. The beast, able to bear heavy loads, carried Jesus into Jerusalem, just days before the Christ would, himself, bear the sins of the world on Calvary’s cross.

Like the donkey, Jesus, too, is the subject of many myths, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations. Erroneous ideas and teachings have been accepted without seeking the truth. The #1 best selling book of all time contains the truth. I challenge you to read it for yourself. Why?

John wrote in his gospel, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Steven Callis is the minister at First Church of the Nazarene in Douglasville.

Steven Callis is the minister at First Church of the Nazarene in Douglasville.

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