On Donkeys and Defying Expectations...

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Matthew 21: 1-11

Now when they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 telling them, “Go to the village ahead of you. Right away you will find a donkey tied there, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you are to say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet


Growing up, any time Palm Sunday came around, I found it to be unusual. People at my church would wave palms branches, there was talk about a donkey, and not just a regular, singular donkey, but a donkey carrying Jesus. You know, Savior of the Universe Jesus. On a donkey.

It all seemed very unusual. But something I’ve learned as I’ve grown up is that God has a tendency to work within the unusual.

It’s our nature to have expectations about stuff: the weather, what our relationships will be like, how The Voice should end. This is what tells us what is usual vs. unusual. But just because we have expectations and just because we consider something usual or unusual, that doesn’t mean that God should be contained by this.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, some might have been confused because to be the Messiah, why wasn’t he on a stallion? Why didn’t he wear armor and carry an awesome sword that was on fire? Why wasn’t he waging war and initiating a revolution against the Romans?

For those who recognized the symbolic and prophetic nature of his entry on a donkey, they might have assumed that it was all finally happening. That their patience had paid off and that finally, Jesus was going on the offensive with his ministry. From here it would be sunshine and lollipops for everyone.

Obviously though, it didn’t play out like anyone thought it would. Do you honestly think anyone was like, “I bet he gets violently crucified, dies, and then, I dunno maybe 3 days later, he comes back...FROM THE DEAD!”

I would say no.

No matter what preconceived notions people brought with them on that day, the way Jesus’ story ebbed and flowed after Palm Sunday couldn’t have been what anyone expected. But that’s how God works. He sees infinitely more than we could ever see, knows infinitely more than we could ever know and he blends these two things for the good of us.

So how does this apply to us? Our lives will be full of all kinds of situations and experiences that we have expectations for. Sometimes, these expectations will be fulfilled exactly like we expected (not often, but it may happen).

Other times, our minds will be completely blown away by what God does and the beautifully precise way He orchestrates just what we need.

The important thing is to avoid defining God within our own expectations. Our God is a creative God whose ways are bigger, better and more perfect than anything we could dream up for ourselves. So let’s enjoy His creativity and plan for us. Who knows, for some of us, it may even involve a donkey. I’m really hoping mine does.


What is a situation you’ve experienced where God defied your expectations? What were you expecting and how was it different?


God, help me to see you and your blessings not as I expect them, but as you grant them. I ask for your guidance and help in not boxing you in and I pray for your grace when I fall short. Thank you for being a God that takes care of us beyond expectation and despite not deserving it.

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