Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Do all Donkeys carry a cross?

We had a donkey at church on Palm Sunday and since then there have been many conversations about Donkeys and whether they all have the marks of the cross on their backs. I decided to do some research to see what I could find.

Most, if not all, donkeys have a narrow strip of hair that runs down their backs and each of their shoulders in a darker shade than the rest of their coat. This naturally makes the shape of a cross.

Since donkeys have been used by mankind for over 5000 years with very little change, it seems likely that through this time they've always carried the cross markings.

There are a number of theories about why this might be, with the most evolutionarily sound being ... the cross is what remains of a stripey coat which would have been camouflage in their natural homes on the edge of deserts. Darwin noted the relative frequency of double shoulder stripes in donkeys.

The donkey is mentioned numerous times in the Old and New Testament and has a key role on Palm Sunday when a donkey was chosen by Jesus to be his route into Jerusalem Matthew 21:1-11. The fact that Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem fulfilled a prophecy spoken 500 years before that the Messiah would ride a donkey into Jerusalem" Matthew 21:5 and Zechariah 9:9.

From this came a legend of the donkey's cross. The little donkey that had been Jesus' mount on Palm Sunday, came to the hill of Calvary. Seeing the tragic event occurring there he wished with all his heart he had been able to carry the cross for Jesus as he was the proper one to carry heavy burdens. The donkey turned his back on the sight, but he could not leave because he wished to stay until all was over because of his love for Jesus. In reward for the loyal and humble love of the little donkey the Lord caused the shadow of the cross to fall across his back and left it there for the donkey to carry forevermore as a sign that the love of God, no matter how humble carries a reward for all to see. It's also told that the leg stripes were received from walking through the palm branches that were laid in it's path in honor of the burden the donkey was carrying.

One of the most fascinating facts I've found is that during the Middle Ages, Europeans used hairs from the cross on a donkey as folk remedies to cure illness. Around 1400 AD, one physician listed riding backwards on a donkey as a cure for scorpion stings.

So, do all donkeys have a cross on their back? Yes, although its not always easy to see. It's an evolutionary advantage and a blessing to us as a reminder of their gift to Jesus.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

God designed the donkey (Darwinian evolution never happened and is scientifically impossible so forget that idea. Evolution is a fairy tale for grown-ups). Since God knows all, He could prophesy that a donkey would carry Christ in 500 years' time. Since He always knew that would happen, He designed the donkey with a cross in the DNA code thousands of years before. This serves as a reminder to us that God knows all, even the future, way in advance.
Colin

Anonymous said...

Halleluja!

Anonymous said...

Yes I believe that a donkey carries a cross because of CHRIST , just like the rainbow of GOD, S promise never to flood the earth again even doe it could use it with all the evil ln it

Anonymous said...

I know the donkey has the gentleness of Jesus.

James Fazl, NY said...

Born in Pakistan, from my childhood saw many donkeys and as a Christian was always amazed to see the cross at the back. Yesterday, my daughter sent me a picture of a lonely wandering donkey putting me in deep reflection. I wrote her back about how this unfortunate animal who help fend for the whole family is abandoned when not able to function and left out without even the owner owning and has to fend for itself. I also asked her to observe the mark of the cross on its back which was part of God's plan that one day His beloved Son in His humility will ride on this humble animal here on earth. More proof - Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world.
James F. NY

Anonymous said...

twas a donkey upon which our Blessed Mother heavy with baby Jesus also rode...

Anonymous said...

Great points, including the comment about evolutionary explanations being fairy tales.
*Mary rode a donkey to Bethlehem!
*The symbolic meanings pointing to salvation in Christ (Cross-shading & Rainbow).
*The donkey as a beast of burden, whose humility belies its greatness as a faithful servant.
*The gentleness of the donkey befits the king who rides home from war on this beast, showing that the battle is won (and there is no need to be riding the swift stallion).
*PTL, indeed!

Anonymous said...

Seriously! Evolution is a fairy tale? I am a Christian and am very happy to accept, from what we know, that evolution (although a theory) is a good explanation for human development. God's intention is for things to happen over time, otherwise the new heaven and earth would have been here yesterday. God's story is a evolving story it is how God has worked out his story of salvation from day one. We learn, we grow, we adapt, we are a people of journey and pilgrimage. Darwin was a Christian, and his book 'the species...' was forwarded by his priest. His discoveries have been a blessing to humanity - please consider a new theology folks. Good science doesn't oppose theology it compliments it - don't fear it.

Emma Major said...

Evolution is very much scientifically possible, in fact there is no other explanation for the millions of years of species adapting and changing. And please don't think evolution is in opposition to God; evolution is the how and God is the why.

Emma Major said...

Evolutionary explanations are science, they are not fairy tales. God put into action the start of creation and kicked off the evolutionary process. Why is this so difficult to understand?

Emma Major said...

Evolutionary explanations are science, they are not fairy tales. God put into action the start of creation and kicked off the evolutionary process. Why is this so difficult to understand?

Emma Major said...

Evolution is very much scientifically possible, in fact there is no other explanation for the millions of years of species adapting and changing. And please don't think evolution is in opposition to God; evolution is the how and God is the why.

Russell Houghton said...

Evolution is scientific fact. We know more about evolution than gravity. Even if evolution were not true, it wouldn't make your story any more believable.

Pastor Timothy said...

Evolution in the way you are talking about
Emma Major, is not true. Why do you believe in
one part of the Scripture, and disregard the other?
That must be really difficult to know or have to decide what
is and is not Scripture? Jesus testified that what is our
OT is true... Jn 17:17. I do like the article you wrote other
than that. They donkey preaches to the world the message of Christ
better than many people I know.

Lord bless you,
hugs and prayers from Brasil

Mike Adkins said...

Jesus is the perfect answer to peace in your heart and soul, if you will respect God and acknowledge His perfect Son's sacrifice for your sins payment, you will receive so much Joy and never ending peace, that you will always Jesus is enough. Please give yourself a little time before you die to read the bible, and let God speak to you loud and clear about how much He Loves you.

Jesussaves said...

I also heard they have black spots on their ears representing where Jesus held on to the donkey as he rode it.