There's A Donkey in the Next Town Over
March 28, 2021
A Dead Donkey in the Church Yard
I once heard of a preacher man who went to his church office on Monday morning and discovered a dead donkey in the church yard. He called the police immediately. But since no evidence of foul play existed, the police referred the preacher man to the health department. But the health department said that since no health threat existed, the preacher man should call the sanitation department. The sanitation department, however, said they could not pick up the donkey without authorization from the mayor. Such an assignment put the preacher in a tight and dreaded spot because (a) the mayor had a temper and (b) he was generally hard to deal with.
But the preacher figured suffering for Jesus was worth it so he called him anyway. And the mayor didn’t disappoint. He immediately began to rant and rave at the pastor and finally said: “preacher why in the world did you call about a dead donkey in your church’s front yard? Isn’t it your job to bury the dead?” To which the preacher responded: “Yes, Mr. Mayor, it sure is my job to bury the dead. But I always like to notify the next of kin first.”
The Eyes of Biblical Donkeys
I know what you’re thinking: “Derrick why in the world do you want to preach on the donkey in the next town over when there are plenty in this town; many of which are listening to you right now?” Here’s why: the eyes donkeys were privileged enough to behold some of the greatest scenes in the Bible. Abraham got up early in the morning to saddle his donkey before making his famous sacrifice at Mt. Moriah. Moses crossed the desert on one with his family in route to Egypt to deliver God’s people. And it’s one of only two animals on earth that God empowered to speak audibly: “Balaam, what have I done to you to make you beat me these three times” (Num 22:28)?
And the eyes of the donkey I’m going to speak to you about today beheld one of the greatest sights of all: people throwing palm branches on the ground and shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” as Jesus entered Jerusalem on his back during passion week. And the thought never occurred to this donkey that all of this praise was for him. He knew it was for Jesus. So to see Palm Sunday correctly, we’ve got to see Jesus from this donkey’s perspective.
After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.” 35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” 40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Palm Sunday Lessons Through the Eyes of a Donkey
(1) Jesus certainly knows what's down the road for you (29).
A Fool’s Errand: A task or an activity that absolutely has no hope of success.
A Challenging Assignment:
(1) Going “up” to Jerusalem requires an ascent;
(2) Leaving the Mount of Olives, just outside Jerusalem, for the the next town over, required descending and then ascending once again;
(3) with the most stubborn animal in the history of the world; who didn’t know them
A Difficult Quandry: In such a task, the disciples were faced with a faith quandry:
(1) Is Jesus sending me on a fool’s errand?
(2) Or will I trust that he knows what he’s talking about?
The Reason for the Assignment:
Jesus knows all things. So they could have the confidence to follow his directions.
What “All Knowing” and “Assignment” Implies:
He’ll never send you on a fools errand. You can have confidence in his direction. But you have to obey them to realize that.
(2) Jesus wishes to ride in and take over. Not be fought at every turn (35).
How Kings Rode Into Town in Antiquity Depended on the Political Circumstances:
(1) Wartime: Rode on a prancing stallion adorned with battle gear: David;
(2) Peacetime: Donkey; Colt: Solomon
How the People Wished He Rode into Town:
(1) Prancing stallion like David, not a donkey like Solomon;
(2) Which means the peace they had in mind was salvation from taxation, not Salvation of their souls;
(3) Thus the reason the shouts would change from “Hosanna, Lord Jesus,” to “give us Barabbas.”
How the People Saw Him:
(1) Riding on a donkey; like Solomon;
(2) They would have been part glad (Hosanna) and part confused;
(3) How in the world can he ride on a colt during Roman occupation?
The only way he can give peace is when we allow him to march in and take over without fighting him along the way.
Why We Miss His Humble Entry Into Our Lives:
“You can only march into this area of my life. Not that one.
You don't have to hide in a hostile world (39)
Why the Religious Leaders Were Out to Get Him:
(1) He healed a paralytic who they thought were cursed;
(2) To eating with sinners;
(3) To healing on the sabbath;
(4) To rebuking them publicly in sermons – “can the blind lead the blind;”
(5) To praising a Gentiles faith over their own;
(6) To being anointed by a sinful woman;
(7) To outright forgiveness.
Where They Could and Couldn't Pounce:
(1) The more Jesus did these things in Galilee; the more popular he became;
(2) In fact, so popular was Jesus in Galilee that Herod wouldn’t even touch him when Pilate sent him to Jesus;
(3) Now they sensed an opportunity to strike while the iron was hot. He was no longer in Galilee. He was in Jerusalem; where the religious establishment ruled.
But Jesus Entered:
(1) Riding on a donkey – implying peace;
(2) Accepting worship – Hosanna;
(3) In light of the truth – “if these people don’t cry out to me, the stones will.”
Application: We are taking the approach of slinking into a hostile city under the cover of darkness instead of riding straight into a hostile world triumphantly with the truth of the Gospel. Jesus did the exact opposite.
4. You will give an account before God as an individual away from the crowd (37)
What Happens When You Substitute Your Personal Worship for the Crowds:
(1) Opinions of Jesus in the Crowd on Palm Sunday: Hosanna. Hosanna.
(2) Opinions of Jesus in the Crowd on Good Friday: Crucify! Give us Barabbas!
What Happens When Your Worship Is Personal and Not Influenced by the Masses:
(1) There will be a season where you follow behind him; singing praises for what He’s done;
(2) There will be seasons he’ll ask you to go before him to fetch mules and lay down palm branches.
We will not stand before God and give an account of what we’ve done with Jesus in the crowds. We’ll give an account for what we’ve done with them when they have tempered. And we see him riding straight into our lives on the back of donkey.