of us probably know the story of how Jesus rode into
It's a story about a little girl called Miriam. Miriam was about 7 or 8 and lived at home with her Mum. But she was very sad, because a few months earlier, her Dad had fallen ill. Then he'd got worse… And then he'd got worse still... And then he'd died. So now there was just Miriam, her Mum, and their donkey.
The donkey was called Benjamin, and Miriam loved him nearly as much as she'd loved her Dad. If you close your eyes, perhaps you can see Miriam and Benjamin in your imagination, outside their house. It's hot, and the road is dusty and stony, and Benjamin smells a bit, but nobody minds. Miriam has got long black hair and big dark eyes, and she puts her arms around Benjamin's neck, and he rests his chin on her shoulder, or rubs his ear on the side of her head. And she tells him all her secrets, and all her private thoughts, and all the things that frighten her. Like what if her Mum died as well? And what if someone stole Benjamin? Then, sometimes she thinks of her Dad and cries into Benjamin's mane.
(You can open your eyes now if you like.) One day, Miriam had been talking to Benjamin for quite a while and it was starting to get hot, so she told him she was just going indoors to get a drink of water, and she'd be back in a minute with some for him too. But when she returned, she stopped in horror; two men were untying Benjamin’s rope! "Hey, stop!", she screamed. "You can't do that, that's my donkey!" The two men looked at each other, slightly bewildered, then one spoke up and said "Err.. the Lord needs him", and the other added "And, err… he'll send him back directly". Just then, Benjamin threw his head in the air and gave a loud "ee-or", and Miriam was sure he was trying to say "Let's go! They seem kind men, and the air smells good today". Then Miriam found herself saying "Well, I suppose that's alright. But only if I can come too!" "Of course you can" they replied. "Go and tell your Mum you won't be long, and we'll set off."
off they went, up the hill and out of the village. As they walked, the two men
talked to Miriam, and laughed and joked, and told her about their friend Jesus,
who loved children, and told wonderful stories about rich men and poor men,
about wise men and foolish men, about things that got lost, about sheep that
got lost, about people that got lost, about buried treasure, and fields, and
trees, and seeds, and weeds … in fact about almost everything you could
imagine. Suddenly, Miriam realised she was feeling better than she had done
since her Dad had died.
they came to the top of the hill, and there they found a little crowd of
people, excitedly chatting and laughing together. A man came out from the crowd
to meet them. He had kind eyes and he said to Miriam, "Thank you for
lending me your donkey. You see, I need him to ride into
they started out down the hill, Jesus riding on the donkey, and all the people
singing and shouting, and throwing palm branches on the road in front for them
to walk over. Jesus was smiling, but somehow Miriam thought there was a sad
look in his eyes. On they went until they came to a bend in the road, where you
could see the whole of Jerusalem laid out before you – a mass of roofs, and
streets, and little market squares, and curling wisps of smoke from chimneys,
and in the middle, the imposing shape of the Temple. Miriam loved this view,
because she knew her Dad had loved it too. But just as the whole city came into
view, Benjamin suddenly stopped. Miriam turned round to see why, and found that
he was hanging his head, as though he was about to cry. Then she looked up at
Jesus, and saw tears streaming down His face. He looked out across the city and
said "O Jerusalem, how I longed to gather your children as a hen gathers
her chicks under her wings, but you wouldn't let me!" Miriam reached up
and put her arms around his middle and put her head in his lap, and cried out
"I would have let you! Does that make it better?" "Of
course it does!" he replied, and he put his hand on her shoulders and bent
down and kissed the top of her head, just like her Dad used to. Then he sat up
and said "Come, we've got a way to go yet!"
set off again, but now without quite so much singing and shouting. That is,
until they came to the city gate when suddenly, people seemed to appear from
everywhere, singing "Hosanna to the Son of David!" Jesus was smiling
but Miriam could still see that sad look in his eyes. Benjamin was holding his
head low and going more slowly now, as if he didn't really want to bring Jesus
there. They made their way through the narrow streets until they came to the
So she walked home with Benjamin, talking to him all the way about all the things they'd seen and heard, and puzzling over it all. When they got home, she tied him up and looked into his eyes and said "What did it all mean?" And Benjamin held his head up and looked back at her, and seemed to say "It's quite simple – even a donkey can understand. It just means we have to trust Jesus, and follow him".
day that week, Miriam talked to Benjamin, and cried a bit. Then on Friday, the
sky turned black, and she cried some more. In fact, it seemed as if Benjamin
was crying too. Then she found she had no more tears. On Saturday, all seemed
quiet and peaceful, and she sat with her Mum who told her yet again the story
she loved best, of how Moses had led their forefathers out of slavery in
ęPhilip Le Riche, 2007
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