I must say my mouth watered at the thought of that superb wine served up in water jars, just as it had when I read about Samuel’s bread and fish! It seemed that anything Jesus touched gained a quality that was not possible without him.
I wondered whether that was true of every part of life. I walked in the countryside after reading Eli’s story. I was restless and wanted fresh air and exercise. For some reason, rather than my usual run, I walked. As I looked around, I realised, for the first time perhaps, how beautiful creation is. The air was full of birdsong and felt fresh after the rain that had fallen during the day. I caught the smell of damp autumn leaves. The light was golden as the sun set. I had seen lovely evenings before, yes, of course I had, but somehow there was a tangible vibrancy about this evening. Could this be part of the blessing Jesus gives to everything he touches? If so, was he indeed touching me?
As I walked, I came across a field of horses – and amongst them was a donkey! It was a tiny little creature hardly big enough to carry a man. Yet one of its kind had carried Jesus into Jerusalem on that day when Eli stood at the gate of the city. This donkey wandered over to me, hopeful for something to eat. I was unable to oblige, but seeing him so close made me realise just what an act of humility Jesus performed as he rode into the city.
The horses were chasing one another around the field, tossing their heads, stamping and snorting, but the donkey ignored them and allowed me to stroke his nose.
A man riding on a donkey – a humble man who had done many amazing things …
How amazing that Yeshua should choose a donkey; such a meek little creature. We Jews have always thought Messiah would come at the head of an army. Would I, if I had been with Eli at that gate, have realized that this man on the donkey was truly Messiah, or would I have joined the hysterical masses and acclaimed him and then rejected him because he did not, after all, fit my picture of who Messiah would be? I fear I would have been one of the crowd.
Rufus tells his father’s story. This has brought to mind the story of my own father. He made sure my mother, brother and I left Germany before it was too late. I, as a four year old, only have vague memories of him. My brother, still a baby in arms, does not remember him at all. But my mother often told us the story of the sacrifice he made to get us out. He was arrested a few days after he sent us away and was taken to one of the camps – we never did discover which one.
Although he did not come back to us, unlike Rufus’ father who returned to his home, what my father experienced has shaped our lives, just as Simon’s experience shaped the lives of his own family.