As we think of Jesus riding on the donkey to the city of Jerusalem to liberate people I am also reminded of another march that took place yesterday (3/24/2018) by the students and those who support them. They wanted their voices heard and the law makers can no longer ignore those voices. My prayer for them is that those voices may never stop when they go home.
We are on our sixth Sunday in Lent and Jesus enters Jerusalem one last time. This time he comes home as a king, but not the kind of king that people were expecting. This time he was a king who would deliver his people from the bondage of sin. I could not resist the urge to share Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on this Palm Sunday. It is more fitting as we mark the start of Holy Week.
When Jesus sent the disciples for the donkey to take him to Jerusalem, people should have learned that he was entering in peace. As people welcomed him to the town, many of them thought of him as a king coming to liberate them from the Roman oppression. As they made noise and put their clothes out and palm branches down, they were declaring some form of independence. But we know now that this story on this day, known as Pam Sunday, reminds us of a king who is not of this kingdom but rather a king of the heavenly kingdom. By this time people had heard about Jesus’ work and his standing against the religious establishment and they thought this had to be the man they had been waiting for. By listening to this story, we can draw different conclusions.
I have to mention that the word, “Hosanna,” means save us now. Therefore, when people shouted ‘Hosanna’ you can imagine the message that went to the Roman rulers. For me this story represents Jesus’ final journey on his earthly mission brings with it certain teachings that have been helpful in my faith journey. I would like to share these with you:
1. Jesus always plans ahead: I have always wondered whether Jesus had planned ahead on his mode of transportation. But we have to accept that Jesus, being God, knew that this colt would be there and someone would ask where they were taking it.
- First, I am of the belief that Jesus, being God, could see way ahead of this journey, even to a point of seeing that the colt would be tied at a specific place.
- Second, Jesus provides a password when required. As the disciples went to get the colt they needed a password. When people asked the disciples who were taking the little donkey, they had to provide the password that Jesus had given, “the master needs it.” We know these days that we need a password in everything we do. Have you found yourself in a situation where you said something and you wondered where it came from? Something right at the right time. God provides the password. Don’t think too hard what to say. All he requires of you is to be faithful and he will provide a password for it. This being my theory, therefore, makes me believe that God, who is all-knowing is able to direct our footsteps even on things that we can’t see. Ours, therefore, is to obey like the disciples did on that day.
- Third, We have to trust our master’s directive. They did not ask Jesus whether he was sure that the colt would be there but they went by faith. We heard faith-stories at the distribution center, like where they had no space for three pallets in the semi that they had received. Four days later another group called and told them they had a small space in the semi but they could only take three pallets. There you go! Jesus calls us to have the same faith today. Jesus might be putting something in your heart that he likes you to do but you may not have all the facts at hand. All that is required of you is to obey and leave the rest to him. God might be inviting you to take a new path in your family life, career, or even in the church ministry and you may not know all the facts but he says, “trust me.” Some things in life you are better off not knowing all the details, because those details might discourage you or make you overconfident and you miss the purpose. When you hear the voice, go ahead and do it for God has already prepared the way for you.
2. When Hosanna Stopped:
- First, Singing Hosanna is Easy! Hosanna (save us) was easy because there were no threats to their lives yet. People had a happy time as they invited the king. All of us have an hosanna moment in our lives. I am thinking of times when we were children and dad or mom brought us gifts. We would always say, “You are the greatest dad or mom ever.” But when we were asked to clean up our rooms, did we tell them they were the greatest? Sometimes at our work-place we can experience hosanna moments when everything seems to go as planned. Sometimes our hosanna moment can last for a day, or months or sometimes even years.
- Second, Hosanna moments can be short-lived: But never be deceived by the hosanna moment. When you get a new appointment, the hosanna moments are known as honeymoon periods, like when one is newly married. Some honeymoons may not last for long, so when you are having hosanna moments enjoy them to the fullest, for they might be short-lived. Jesus’ hosanna moment lasted only for a day because, come Friday, they were after his blood. They were seeking his blood. “Crucify him,” they called on Friday. One wonders what happened on Good Friday after people ushered the king in town on Palm Sunday? Maybe people got tired, while others had no time or had more important things to do. Maybe people got scared, while others got busy with their lives. I can imagine people getting busy preparing for Passover for their families who had come from out of town and never stopped to ask what had happened to Jesus. Does this sound familiar in our struggles?
- Third, face the reality of the cross. Jesus had to face a difficult journey for the days that followed, but he never gave up. He stayed on the course and finally came a victory through resurrection. In the same way, don’t give up in life when hosanna stops and you find yourself alone, for there is victory waiting for you. In the blood of Jesus there is power and victory. “There is power, power, power, wonder working power in the blood of the lamb. There is victory, victory, victory, in the precious blood of the lamb.”
3. Fulfillment in Prophecy:
- First, it was a fulfillment of the prophecy as recorded in Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, you King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” People may not have remembered this prophecy but nothing happened to Jesus that was a surprise.
- Second, there is very little we know about the owner of the donkey. His or her name is not mentioned anywhere. All we know is that he or she was willing to give the donkey for his master. The owner may never be known but his/her action or generosity has been alive and will continue as the preaching of Christ continues. There is a gallery of donkey-givers in our church. Many have given a lot to God’s work and their names may never show anywhere. There are different kinds of donkeys that we can give for God’s kingdom. Therefore, when you give and nobody thanks you or notices your giving, don’t be discouraged because the master knows.
- Third, the donkey is a symbol of peace. The choice of the animal that Jesus used to enter Jerusalem was a symbol of humility. He would have chosen to ride on a more prestigious animal, like a horse or even use a chariot but he chose the humble way of the donkey. In whatever we do or achieve let us learn to ride on the donkey of humility. The Bible says that those who humble themselves will be lifted up. Humility is not a weakness but is a virtue that each believer ought to possess.
- Fourth, without Jesus we are nothing: One this day the little donkey had a very special treatment. The donkey had to walk on people’s clothes and even enjoyed listening to the hosanna choruses. The donkey enjoyed the love that went with the king who was riding on it, but we know the next day that donkey did not have any recognition from the people. This means that this little donkey, without Jesus riding on it, was just an ordinary one. This experience of the donkey can remind us what happens when we have Christ in us. In Christ we can do all things. In Christ we are more than conquerers. Without Christ we are just ordinary but when we invite him we become princes and princesses, sons and daughters of the King. In fact, there is a story told about the baby donkey of Jesus. It went into the market place the next day and nobody recognized it. (Those were the days when animals could talk and cry). As it walked into the market-place it would stop and shout, “I was the one who was carrying the King yesterday,” but nobody cared to even look or listen. Then it decided to go to the well where people met to fetch water. Here again it repeated its wonderful act of carrying the King but nobody recognized it and it finally went home, very disappointed and complained to its mother, telling the mother how nobody seemed to recognize it, even after doing such a good work on Sunday for carrying the King to town. The mother looked at him and said, “Son, did you not know that without the master you are nothing but a mere donkey?” The same is true for us. Without the master, we are nothing.