Jesus rode a donkey because it is a humble creature but it is also associated with royalty. The prophet Zechariah wrote: “Behold, your king comes to you, triumphant and victorious. He is humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass.” (Zechariah 9:9) King Solomon rode to his messianic coronation on a donkey that had belonged to David (1 Kings 1:33-44). King Jehu rode into Samaria over the garments of his followers in order to destroy the temple of the false god Baal (2 Kings 9:11-10:28).
The modern church procession makes the mistake of putting an empty donkey at the head of the procession, which is obviously very popular with children but quite misses the point. Here we see an example from Hepworth church with three empty donkeys.
BY G. K. CHESTERTON
When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.