Returning to Jerusalem for Passover, Jesus sends two of his disciples into a village to fetch a donkey which he rides into towm, straight to the temple where he drives out the money-changers and the market-traders.
Peter put his hands on his hips and shook his head. “A donkey?” he asked.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “A donkey.”
“Are we talking about the same thing?” said Peter, “Like a horse, shorter legs, longer ears, eats carrots, goes eeyore?”
“Yes,” said Jesus, laughing, “We are talking about the same thing.”
“So, you want me to go to into that village over there?”
“And grab the first donkey I see?”
“And bring it back to you here?”
“And what if someone asks me what I'm doing?”
“Just tell them the Lord needs it.”
Peter raised his eyebrows and sighed. “It's a bit odd.”
“Peter,” said Jesus, “How often have I asked you to do something that you thought was ‘a bit odd’?”
“Well,” said Peter thoughtfully, “There was that time when we hadn't caught a fish all night and you told us to try again; and there was that day when you gave us a couple of fish and some bread and told us to feed a whole crowd of people; and there was that night when you were walking on the water and you told me to give it a go; and ...”
“And it worked out alright every time, didn't it?”
“Yes,” Peter admitted, “Apart from the walking on water thing ...”
“Was that my fault?” asked Jesus.
“I know, I know,” Peter muttered, “I should have had more faith then ...”
“And you need to have more faith now,” Jesus told him.
Peter nodded. “Back in five minutes,” he said and set off towards the village, followed by his brother, Andrew.
Jesus sat down, closed his eyes and began to pray. When he opened his eyes again, there was Peter, walking back from the village, with his brother Andrew and a donkey.
“Any trouble?” Jesus asked them.
“It was just like you said,” Andrew told him, “We got into the village and the first thing we saw was this donkey. We started to untie it, the owner came marching over demanding to know what we were doing, Peter told him ‘The Lord needs it’ and he just nodded and went away.”
“We've got no saddle,” said Peter, “Tell you what, we'll put our cloaks over its back and give you a leg-up.”
When Jesus was sitting comfortably, they set off towards the nearby city of Jerusalem with the rest of the disciples walking alongside them. The disciples had a sense that something important was about to happen, but they weren't sure what. Then suddenly they felt it – joy, joy so powerful that it filled their hearts and overflowed from their mouths as they all began to cry out, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Hearing the noise, people came out of their houses to see what was going on and when they saw Jesus riding into Jerusalem they threw their own cloaks on the ground in front of him and some rushed to cut down branches from palm trees and lay them across the road for the donkey to walk on. Soon the sides of the road were packed with people. Some were Pharisees, enemies of Jesus, and they didn't like what they were seeing and hearing.
“Teacher,” they shouted at Jesus, “Tell your disciples to shut up!”
“There's no point,” Jesus called back, “If they keep quiet the stones will cry out!”
Eventually the procession reached the Golden Gate, one of many entrances to the city. As they passed through it some people, even some of the disciples, expected Jesus to turn right, to head towards the Roman fortress, to throw the Roman invaders out of the city, out of the country, out of their lives! But instead, Jesus climbed down from the donkey and headed straight for the Temple.
The courtyard of the Temple was full of market stalls selling cattle, sheep and doves, and tables where people could exchange their Roman money for the Temple coins they needed to buy the animals. But it was all a rip-off! The money-changers didn't give people as many Temple coins as they should, and the market-traders charged too much for the animals. But people needed the animals to offer to God as sacrifices, to make up for the things they'd done wrong, so they had no choice but to pay too much and be given too little. It was a terrible thing to do, to cheat people who just wanted to say sorry to God. Everybody knew it, but nobody was brave enough to do anything about it ... until now.
Jesus strode around the courtyard, untying cattle and sheep, releasing doves from cages and shouting “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father's house into a market!” He flipped over the tables of the money-changers, sending their coins flying in all directions and cried out, “My Father's house should be a house of prayer, but you've turned it into a den of thieves!”
The crowd that had followed Jesus into the city stood with their mouths wide open. Even the disciples couldn't believe what they were seeing! Then they all began to shout, “The Saviour is here! Jesus is our Saviour!”
The chief priests and teachers of the law, more enemies of Jesus, saw what he was doing. They were furious, but there was nothing they could do about it, at least not right here, not right now. But they were all agreed, something had to be done, this trouble-maker must be silenced once and for all. There was only one solution ... Jesus must die!