The Donkey Factor

Luke 19:29-39 & John 12:12-18

It is Palm Sunday, the day we remember Jesus entering Jerusalem to the shouts of praise.  The crowds hailed Him as their king and Messiah.  Yet how He enters Jerusalem says a lot about Jesus and His ministry as our Messiah and Savior of the world.

It is Palm Sunday and Jesus is coming into Jerusalem.  He is riding on a blazing white stallion and kicking up a cloud of dust as he rides along. He is looking for trouble.  The people He passes on His way are in awe.  He is mounted on a beautiful and powerful animal but they were even more awestruck by the man!  He is a noble conqueror!  As Jesus passes by, you can hear people saying, “Who is He?”

Or imagine Thor, the Black Widow, Captain America, the Hulk—all accompanying this impressive Rider on a noble war horse!  

There were bad guys on the loose and they have a job to do.  They stride into town, quickly size up the situation, form a plan and capture the mastermind of evil and his band of troublemakers. His name was Diablo or Satan.  There was a short scuffle and Diablo is hog-tied and thrown into jail—forever defeated. 

As a large crowd of people gathered to see what the commotion was all about, Jesus mounted his horse and pulled on the reigns.  The stallion stood on its hind legs, neighs loudly, and paws the air with its front legs.  When it stood as tall as it could stand, Jesus leaned forward in the saddle. Holding the reigns with one hand while lifting his white hat in the air with the other, He shouted with a loud voice.  As Jesus road off into the sunset, you could hear the William Tell Overture in the background. 

Isn’t that how you would have done it if you were Jesus? It’s how I would have.

Jesus’ instructions to get the donkey shows He was in control.  It was all part of the plan for Him to go to the cross for you and me.  Jesus on a humble beast of burden…not a noble stallion.

Jesus is our humble King—our Redeemer, Savior, and Lord.  Our salvation is accomplished by letting evil win through His death on the cross.  Jesus even cries out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?!” a direct quote from Psalm 22, known as the Crucifixion Psalm.  Yet the devil and all the forces of evil did not understand the power of the cross—what we as Lutherans understand as at the “theology of the cross.”  J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series understands the theology of the cross when she writes that love triumphs over evil.  

Jesus rode a simple, humble donkey showing He came in peace and in “weakness.”  He intentionally went to the cross for you and me.  He intentionally yielded His life.  He was not “out gunned.”  He was not out smarted or out maneuvered.  He stated Himself that He could have called a thousand angels and been delivered.  As He hung on the cross He was not helpless.  His detractors cried out “he cannot even save Himself!”  “Come down from the cross if You are the Messiah!”  was their ignorant cry.  Yet He chose the cross and surrendered to death by crucifixion because He was dying in our place.  He was taking the punishment our sin deserved.  It is very important to state here that He was not paying the devil or “arm wrestling with evil.”  He was satisfying the righteous demand of God’s law that someone had to die for our sins.  Jesus was paying the price, the penalty our sin deserved. 

Crown of thorns

The crown of thorns given to Him in mockery of His being King of the Jews was in fact our crown of thorns.  Isaiah says He was despised and rejected by all of us, and yet He chose us and died in our place.  He is in fact, in very truth, not only King of the Jews, but King of kings and Lord of lords.  

His throne, our cross

As He hung on that despised cross, He pronounced our judgment.  His words, “it is finished,” speaks the truth that all our sin, past, present and future has been paid in full.   No one, no power on earth or under the earth or anywhere in all creation can accuse us or confront us anymore with our sin.  We have been declared forgiven and righteous.  God’s righteousness has been purchased by Jesus and given to us.  We are completely free.  Heaven in now open to us and all believers!

The Theology of the Cross

Winning by losing, absorbing sin—taking on our woundedness, our brokenness, our disappointments, our losses, our sin and our death.  Saving faith is the trust and belief that Jesus really did accomplish what He set out to do.  Good Friday is good news.  Easter Sunday proves and proclaims it.  

He who is the Lord and Master of the universe—who deserves all the honor and service of all living creatures—took upon Himself the form of a servant. He became the Servant of humans—not only of God, but the servant of humans. Imagine!

⇒ The Lord whom we are to serve, came and served us.

⇒ The Lord whom we are to love, came and loved us.

⇒ The Lord whom we are to adore, came and adored us.

⇒ The Lord whom we are to wait upon, came and waited upon us.

⇒ The Lord whom we are to minister to, came and ministered to us.

⇒ The Lord whom we are to seek, came and sought us

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