Were called to serve God by the burdens they bore.
We know of the first three of these without doubt,
Whose stories of service a child can trot out.
Another two donkeys I think there may be
Whose absence might have been a problem, you see.
Because they’re not mentioned, it’s only a guess
That they were involved laying Christ to His rest.
Just as you and I, when we follow God’s call,
May come to be famous – or not known at all.
The first and most famous of all of these five
Appeared back when Moses himself was alive.
King Balak of Moab was frightened to spot
The Israelites camped in his kingdom – a lot!
He sent for old Balaam ben-Beor to say
A curse against Jacob, for which he would pay.
The Lord God told Balaam to stay in his tent,
But Balaam loved money too much, so he went.
The donkey he rode saw an angel that stalked
With a sword to slay Balaam – the donkey that talked.
Some centuries later, the second we see,
To Bethlehem plodding south from Galilee.
The mother of Jesus this donkey did bear.
(Though Luke did not say so, we’ve long shown one there.)
Unlike the first donkey, this one never talked,
But without it, poor Mary could hardly have walked.
When father and mother and child had to flee
To Egypt, the donkey essential would be.
So, clearly, though humble and not really named,
This donkey still managed to be widely famed.
Advance thirty years and the third one appears.
This one was foretold by a prophetic seer.
A foal of an ass, never ridden before,
Just borrowed from someone to carry the Lord.
Unflinching and steady, it kept to its pace
As loud cries of worshippers rang in its face.
Untested, untried, it performed as it ought
As into Jerusalem Jesus it brought.
Its hooves trod on garments laid down in the way
Fulfilling the prophecy right to the day.
Now, what of the last two, at which I have guessed?
What leads me to say they bore Christ to His rest?
When Jesus had died on the Cross for our sins,
The part of these two unknown donkeys begins.
Rich Joseph of Arimathea, we know,
From Pilate received the permission to go,
From Calvary’s crossbeam our Lord he took down
To lay in his own tomb, hewn out of the ground.
Unlikely indeed that he could or would bear
The Lord very far – so the donkey was there.
Was Joseph alone? We might think so, for he
Was the only man mentioned by Gospellers three.
In John’s Gospel, old Nicodemus we find
Assisting rich Joseph the graveclothes to bind.
The myrrh and the aloes, a hundred pounds’ weight,
Nicodemus contributed, (he who came late,
Alone in the evening to Jesus, unseen,
Who heard the renowned words in John 3:16).
Few men could have taken that weight very far,
Most likely a donkey helped carry the jar.
So closes the tale of the four-footed five,
Of which only two helped bear Jesus alive.
The first, though, whose voice foolish Balaam did scold
Was there when the Bethlehem Star was foretold.
The parts that the last two, unsung, later played
Were crucial to keeping God’s promises made.
(We only can guess at their presence, and yet
I trust that the guess should make no one upset.)
All five played their parts in fulfilling God’s plan;
That’s all that God asks of a donkey – or man.
(Copyright Kenneth A. Rumbarger, 2013) (Linking and sharing permitted, editing or copying rights reserved)