A special edition of Renewing Your Mind today as R.C. Sproul reads from one of his children's books.
Here's a preview. As they went down the road, a multitude of people came around and put their coats and palm branches on the ground in front of Davian Jesus. They began to sing, shout, and wave palms in the air, saying, Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel. If you're a regular listener, you know of Dr. Sproul's ability to clearly and winsomely communicate the deep truths of the Gospel. He was also so concerned about the next generation, which is why he dedicated time to write children's books to help pass on the Christian faith to that next generation.
Hi, I'm Nathan W. Bingham, and thank you for joining us today for Renewing Your Mind. To help you prepare for Easter, today you'll hear R.C. Sproul read from one of his children's books, The Donkey Who Carried a King.
It is a beloved title for many, and so I encourage you to gather your family and friends around and listen as Dr. Sproul reads. The Donkey Who Carried a King One day a little boy named Riley came home from playing with some other boys in his neighborhood. He was crying as he came into the kitchen to find his mother. She saw him and asked, Riley, what's wrong? Riley's lip trembled, and he tried to wipe away his tears. He was eight years old, and he didn't like the cry, but he couldn't help it. He said, Mommy, every time we play games, the other boys pick me last.
It hurts so much. Just then Riley's father and grandfather walked in. Riley's mother told them, Riley has had a hard day. The other boys have been picking him last for their games. Riley's father put his arm around his son. I understand that, he said. Sometimes I was the last one picked for games when I was your age. Riley was surprised.
Really? he asked. His father nodded yes. He said, I remember how much it hurt when it happened to me. Riley looked down.
I think they picked me last because I'm not very good at the games we play, he said. His father said, since your grandfather's here, maybe he can help you with this. What do you think, grandpa?
What should Riley do? Grandpa thought for a second, then said, Riley, have you ever heard about the donkey who carried a king? The corners of Riley's mouth tipped up in a smile because he knew he was about to hear another of grandpa's wonderful stories. No grandpa, he said. I've never heard that story, but I'd love to hear it now. So grandpa sat down and Riley sat on his knee. Riley didn't feel too old for that.
You know, Riley, grandpa started several years ago. I went to Jerusalem and I saw a funny sight. Lots of people rode on little donkeys. The donkeys in Jerusalem are small compared to the ones here in America.
They only grow to be about three or three and a half feet high. The sight of a grown man riding on one of these donkeys made me giggle. The man had to keep his knees bent way up to keep his feet from dragging on the ground. And the little donkey the man was riding just kept going right down the street, bearing the man on his back. I want to tell you about a donkey just like that little donkey I saw in Jerusalem.
The donkey in my story had never been picked for anything. He wondered whether he would ever be chosen to do a job. But one day he was picked for a very special task. Many years ago there was a little donkey named Davy.
He lived in a village close to the holy city of Jerusalem. He was too young to work, so he was kept in his pen. He had brothers and sisters, but none of them could play with him because they had jobs to do. Sometimes they carried sacks of olives for their master.
Sometimes they worked for people in the community, and some of them even carried grown adults on their backs. Davy didn't have to carry anyone or anything. All he did every day was stand and wait, eat and sleep.
It was boring, and Davy was often unhappy because it seemed no one wanted him to do anything. The other donkeys who were kept in Davy's pen told stories about the famous donkeys of history. One had belonged to a man named Balaam. A wicked king asked Balaam to give a prophecy against God's people. As Balaam was riding the donkey to the place where the people of God were camped, an angel blocked the path. The donkey stopped, but Balaam couldn't see the angel, so he got very angry and hit the donkey. Then the Lord God gave the donkey the power to speak. The donkey asked, What have I done to you that you've hit me? Balaam said, You are not treating me right. Then God let Balaam see the angel.
The angel said, What you are planning to do is wrong. When Balaam heard that, he decided not to prophesy against the people of God. The donkeys also told a story about old Barnabas, one of the older donkeys who lived with them. Years before, Barnabas had lived in the town of Nazareth.
His owner was Joseph, a carpenter. Joseph and his wife Mary, who was about to have a baby, had to go to his hometown of Bethlehem. Mary rode on Barnabas' back. When they arrived in Bethlehem, it was time for Mary's baby to be born.
All the inns were full, so they spent the night in a stable where animals were kept. There Mary had her baby. His name was Jesus. Shepherds came to the stable and worshiped the baby Jesus. They knew he was the Messiah who had come to save his people.
Afterward, Barnabas carried Mary and the baby Jesus back to Nazareth. Davy liked to hear about the famous donkeys and the important things they had done. He wanted to do a big job too, but his master never picked him to do anything.
But one day, all that changed. It happened one morning when Davy was feeling especially down because he had nothing to do and could only eat and sleep. Davy saw two strangers coming. They spoke quietly to his owner. Davy tried to hear their conversation.
He couldn't make out all of their words, but he did hear one of the men say, Because the Lord has need of him. Davy wondered what they were talking about. Davy's owner came to the pen and opened the gate. He brought Davy out and led him to the two men. Take this donkey, he said. His name is Davy.
No one has ever ridden him before, but I think he will be able to do the job. Davy wondered, What are they going to have me do? Whatever it is, it seems important to these men. They led Davy down the road. Soon he saw a crowd. The two men spoke to the person who seemed to be in charge and called him by his name, Jesus. Some of the people in the group put their coats on Davy's back. Then to Davy's astonishment, Jesus got on his back. It felt strange to have someone sitting on his back, but Davy was excited too. He started to walk toward Jerusalem, carrying Jesus. As they went down the road, a multitude of people came around and put their coats and palm branches on the ground in front of Davy and Jesus.
They began to sing, shout, and wave palms in the air, saying, Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel. Davy was amazed by what he was hearing. He thought, A king is riding on my back. I can't believe that I have been chosen to carry a king. Davy made up his mind to carry the king to the best of his ability.
He stepped carefully along the path of coats and palm branches, and he tried hard to carry Jesus smoothly. After Davy and Jesus came into Jerusalem, Jesus got down and patted Davy's back. Davy watched as he entered the temple. Davy felt very proud of himself. I carried the king, he thought.
I must be a very special donkey. The next day, Davy's master decided he was ready for regular work. One of the servants put two sacks of olives on Davy's back and set out to deliver them. The sacks were heavy, and they scratched Davy's back. Once or twice he got so tired and miserable that he sat down in the road. But the master's servant tugged on the rope attached to Davy's halter and pulled him along.
By the time Davy got home, he was very grumpy. Why did the master make me carry those olives? He grumbled to old Barnabas. I carried the king. I shouldn't have to carry ordinary things.
Barnabas frowned. We are donkeys, he said. It is our job to carry things, whatever the master decides to put on our backs. Every job is important, even carrying sacks of olives, and you should do your best to do it well. Hmm, Davy said.
I don't think I'll ever enjoy this kind of work. I think I'm better at special jobs, like carrying important people. But Davy had to carry things every day. Sometimes he carried sacks of olives. Sometimes one of the servants rode him on an errand for his master. Davy didn't enjoy any of it.
He couldn't understand why his master was giving him such ordinary tasks. One morning, one of his master's servants led Davy to a village on the other side of Jerusalem. As they were returning through the city, Davy saw a crowd coming down the street toward him.
The people seemed to be shouting angrily at someone as they moved along. The servant led Davy to the side of the road so the crowd could pass. Davy saw the person the people were shouting at. It was Jesus. The king Davy had carried into Jerusalem amid such joy only a few days before.
But now the people seemed furious at Jesus. Davy wondered about that. Then Davy noticed that Jesus was carrying something.
A rough, heavy beam of wood. Jesus seemed to be struggling to carry the beam. With a gasp, Davy saw that Jesus was hurt.
His back was covered with cuts and bruises, and his head was bleeding where it had been scratched by a circle of sharp thorns. Suddenly Jesus fell down. He couldn't carry the beam any farther. Davy wished with all his heart that he could carry the beam for Jesus. He tugged at his rope, but the servant held him back. The soldiers who were with Jesus grabbed the man from the crowd and made him carry the beam.
The crowd went on down the street, and the servant led Davy away. He was confused and sorrowful. They shouldn't have made Jesus carry that awful beam, he thought.
He is the king. Why did he have to carry it? Why were they so angry? When he got home, Davy found old Barnabas. I saw something terrible today, he said. The king I carried was hurt, and the people made him carry a big wooden beam.
Why did they do that? Barnabas looked at him kindly. I remember when I carried Jesus and his mother home from Bethlehem, he said. His mother and his father knew that he would die to save his people. Someone had told them so. It seems that prophecy has come true.
The king was carrying the beam of the cross on which he was going to be crucified. Davy was amazed. So the king was being a servant to others, he said. Yes, Davy, Barnabas said.
It is a terrible thing that he is being treated so badly, but what he is doing is wonderful. Davy was quiet for several minutes. At last he said, if the king was willing to carry that terrible beam, I will not complain about carrying our master's olives. I will follow Jesus' example and be a willing servant. Grandpa looked at Riley and said, Riley, until that day when Davy was picked to carry Jesus into Jerusalem, he had never been given anything to do.
His master never picked him for even the easiest task. But the other boys do pick you for your games. So I would like you to try to be thankful you have a chance to play. Can you do that for me, Riley? Yes, Grandpa Riley said.
You are right. I know I should be thankful that I get to play, even if I am chosen last. Good, Grandpa said with a smile. Also, do your best to be content with whatever you are asked to do, because every player and every role is important. If you were picked to do something special, don't get proud like Davy. If you were given a job that doesn't seem to be so much fun, do your best at your job anyway. Remember that God the Father chose Jesus for the worst job of all, but He did it willingly to please His Father and to save His people. Wow, you're right, Grandpa Riley said.
I never thought about it that way before. Grandpa gave Riley a quick hug. That's my boy, he said. But let me tell you the rest of the story. The part that Davy didn't understand. Jesus died on a cross that day. When He died, He gave His life to save His people from their sins. In a way, He carried their sin and their guilt. By dying for them, He took the punishment that they deserved for sinning against the Holy God, the punishment you and I deserve. He was a king, but He was a servant to His people. And do you know what, Riley? Jesus didn't stay dead. He rose again from the grave three days later, and He reigns forever with His Father in heaven.
That's the best news of all. Riley grinned. It sure is, Grandpa, he said. He's the greatest King of all, and I want to serve Him and do whatever He asks me to do, whether it's a little job or something very important.
That was R.C. Sproul reading from his children's book, The Donkey Who Carried a King. Don't go anywhere, because we'll be hearing from Dr. Sproul again shortly. Reading this book has become a tradition for many families over Easter, because it combines rich theological truths with beautiful illustrations. And the hardcover edition of The Donkey Who Carried a King can be yours for your donation of any amount.
You can give your gift today at renewingyourmind.org or by calling us at 800-435-4343. When we first released this book, Dr. Sproul sat down in the studio with our president and CEO, Chris Larson, to discuss why Dr. Sproul wrote this title and his hopes for it. So let's listen in to a little bit of that conversation now. Dr. Sproul, at the end of this story, Riley turns to his grandpa and says that Jesus is the greatest King of all. Is that what the Bible says?
Yes, it does. In fact, it says He's the King of all the kings. And every other earthly magistrate in the final analysis will be accountable and answerable to King Jesus. And Jesus, at the same time as being the King, was also obedient as a servant.
You bring this out in the story and then make that point as grandpa's talking to Riley. How are we called to live out the life of service, and do we have a burden to bear? We certainly do, Chris. Sometimes we in American culture have an allergic reaction to monarchies of any kind. We just have an indisposition towards supreme authority. But the Christian faith is about a kingdom.
It's about the kingdom of God. And God doesn't rule by referendum. He rules by sovereign authority. And in that authority, He has elevated His Son to His right hand. And at His ascension, gave Him the crown of His coronation, making Him King.
Now, in His earthly ministry, that King was a servant, a suffering servant who subjected himself to the whole law of God in a way that most monarchs never ever tried to do. They think they're above the law. They make the laws. They say, so let it be said, so let it be done.
And they don't feel any compunction to have to be obedient to law. But Jesus is first the obedient servant before He is crowned as the King of the kings. And that has a burden for us, that I am, as a Christian, a subject of my earthly king. And it is my duty to do everything in my power to please the one who rules over me and over this world. Grandpa urges Riley to be thankful for the things that he's asked to do and not to grumble and to complain. Does God want us to be thankful and to be content?
You know, I think the lack of contentment is one of the great sins of people and even in the Christian world. You know, when John the Baptist appeared on the scene and he addressed the crowds who came to him. He spoke to the tax collectors, the scribes, the Pharisees, and then he spoke to the soldiers. And one of the things he told the soldiers was that they had to be content with their wages. You know, Paul says, I have learned at whatever state I'm in therewith to be content. And I learned something from that myself, that the Apostle Paul had to learn how to be content.
And this story has that side aspect to it, that whatever job God gives us to do, whatever state we find ourselves in, we are to be happy and content with where we are and pleased to do what God wants us to do. Sometimes I wish I could bring all of our listeners here to the campus at Ligonier as you are walking around the campus and interacting with us on the staff. But then there are some very sweet moments sometimes where I'll see one of your grandchildren walk in or walk by and they just run up to you. And our listeners are familiar with you as this teacher and preacher, and you are certainly that and more. But what I wish that they could see is this warmth that you exude towards your own family. In terms of communicating Christian truth, what is the role of the family, R.C.? And how have you sought to love your own family? Well, I think that the family is the number one place where we are called to be nurturing our children in the truth and admonition of the Lord.
I mean, that's what it is. And that's something that builds a loving relationship within the family. What you see with the grandchildren, of course, you're talking about the younger grandchildren. Just this past Sunday, I was coming out of church, and who comes out of Sunday school or out of the nursery is my great-granddaughter, Caroline, you know. And she just put her arms up and said, Pappy, Pappy, Pappy. I had to go pick her up, and she's just so sweet.
And yeah, it is a wonderful thing to have a family like that. One of the things that, Chris, I want to get across in this story is that in the kingdom of God, there's no such thing as a menial task. You know, we hear in the Old Testament, I'd rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than to dwell in the tents of iniquity. And sometimes we're not all that thrilled with the tasks that God has given us, or sometimes we think that God has forgiven. I can remember 50 years ago with my face on the carpet, praying to God, saying, God, don't you have any ministry for me to perform?
Don't you know my address? And I was so eager to serve, and just I was in the middle of nowhere. And I had no idea what God had in store for me. But the story that Bible makes is that you have to be faithful in little things before you can ever hope to be faithful in the big things. And so this is one of those cases where we can learn from a donkey. I think we do that quite often. How many people who learn from me can identify with that? But that's part of the story. Well, thank you so much for pouring great theological truth into these children's stories.
I use them at home with my kids, and we just love it when a new R.C. Sproul children's book comes out. So thank you. You're more than welcome, Chris. Thank you.
For more information, please visit us at renewingyourmind.org. Tomorrow is Good Friday. But why did Jesus have to die? What happened on the cross? Well, tomorrow we'll answer those questions as we feature a Good Friday sermon from Dr. R.C.
Sproul. We'll give you the hardcover edition of The Donkey Who Carried a King. This book also features a section for parents with follow-up questions to help you have gospel conversations with your children. Join us next week as we feature a Good Friday sermon from Dr. R.C. Sproul here on Renewing Your Mind. .
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