Matthias brushed the young donkey’s coat, absent-mindedly stroking the fur between its eyes occasionally. The animal was sometimes skittish, not yet broken for carrying loads. The merchant had paid a handsome price for the ass; but it was an exceptional thoroughbred that would serve him well for years to come. His wares, the best in all of Bethany and even upward into Jerusalem, were precious and delicate, requiring careful handling, packing, and transporting. For the umpteenth time, Matthias examined each of the donkey’s hooves for any stones or debris that might cause a stumble. Giving the animal a final pat, Matthias tied it to the stable’s deeply-anchored hitching post, checking to make sure his water bucket was full.
“You, there! Simon! Watch over this beast while I make ready for the journey. And mind that he doesn’t get overheated,” the blazing midday sun promising to parch them all before eventide.
Deborah bustled over to her husband as he entered the cool shed filled with fine threads and linens, exotic pottery nestled between the traditional products every household needed.
“Matthias, you spend too much time with that animal! Let the other men tend to him. You’re the only one who can wrap up this merchandise, after all.”
Blinking to adjust his eyes to the darkened storeroom like a window casement newly shrouded by a thick blanket, Matthias wiped his sweaty palms on his soiled apron before handling anything. Each piece was firmly wrapped in soft cloths like a newly swaddled babe, and then secured with the vine ties hanging from the rafters. So intent was he with this task, he did not immediately hear the commotion outside. But, like a dust storm gathering intensity by degrees, the shouts finally broke through to him, his wife’s voice the shrillest of all.
“What is the meaning of this?” Matthias’ thunderous question stilling the arguments as only a master’s commanding presence can do.
Two strangers stood beside his prized donkey while his wife and Simon glared back at them. The dangling rope around the animal’s neck was clasped tightly in Simon’s hand, the naked post at their backs.
“Sir, we humbly ask to borrow this beast. Our Master has need of him,” the taller man’s honest eyes piercing Matthias’.
“And just who might that be,” Matthias mentally scrolling down the list of the masters in the area.
“He said to tell you that ‘The Lord has need of him’,” the smaller man laying his hand on the ass’s back.
Like a striking thunderbolt, the words penetrated Matthias’s heart as he suddenly recognized the men.
“Loose the colt, Simon,” Matthias ordered.
“What? Why?” Deborah stuttered, wondering if her husband was touched in the head.
“Release him, Simon,” Matthias spoke again, “if their Lord has need o him, then He shall have him.”
In a matter of seconds, a scene from two weeks ago flashed across his mind:
Returning from a successful trip to Jerusalem, he had stopped briefly at the Mount of Olives. He had been surprised by a large crowd gathered around a group of a dozen men in the middle of the throng. Climbing up in a sycamore tree, Matthias saw a man seated on a grassy knoll in front of those men. In His arms He held a young child.
‘This must be that rebel teacher Simon told me about. But He looks so ordinary—not remarkable at all!”
Matthias had strained his ears to hear Jesus’ words, soon becoming mesmerized by His wisdom and ideas so different from the usual spiritual leaders, that they almost seemed blasphemous. The crowd, too, had become awed and silent, the only sounds being the Master’s voice and the occasional giggle from the child playing with the soft beard tickling his head.
“Verily, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven . . .”
“Do as I say, now, Simon. Let these men have the rope.”
An hour later, Simon and Deborah, with Matthias in the lead, joined the masses of people spreading palm leaves on the ground that cushioned his cherished donkey’s footsteps, the Master riding on its virgin back on the road to Jerusalem.
“Hosanna! Blessed be our King who comes in the name of the Lord!” was the refrain shouted over and over again, echoing into the valley below as the palm trees on either side of the path waved their branches.
Based on Bible passages Luke 19:30-34 & Matthew 18:18.
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