Summary: Why does the story of Palm Sunday begin with Jesus on a donkey? Prophecy fulfilled. A living parable. Corrie Ten Boom said: Eveyone one singing. Waving palm branches... do you think for a moment the donkey thought it was for him? Let me be the donkey on which Jesus rides in His glory.
In Jesus Holy Name April 5, 2020
Text: John 12:13-15 Palm Sunday Redeemer
“A King? On a Donkey? The Romans Laughed”
Palm Sunday and Holy Week has arrived to find each of us “sheltering in”. Unexpected. I did not expect to be sharing these two great events by video, in these days of “sheltering in”. I am disappointed that we are not worshiping together in one place, under one roof. It does not matter to Jesus. He wants His story told. These great events, the Triumphal Entry of Jesus on Palm Sunday, the Friday Crucifixion, resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday, must be told.
All around the world Christians are celebrating this curious prophet who claimed to be the long expected Jewish Messiah - King. He rode a donkey through the paved streets of Jerusalem 2000 years ago. For one glorious week, differences of language, culture, race and doctrine are forgotten, as we remember.
May God truly bless every congregation that has enabled words of Jesus to find new venues.
Most of us know the general outline of the story. But I suspect that some have never considered the story in any detail. Why did Jesus send two of his disciples into the village to procure a donkey? He has walked into Jerusalem hundreds of times before. He’s healed people in Jerusalem before. Why ride into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey? Why did the people wave palm branches, this time? Why did they cry out “Hosanna!” as he passed by? What does it all mean?
Matthew tells us why; Jesus was fulfilling an ancient prophecy from Zechariah 9:9. Words–written 575 years earlier–predicted that when the Messiah came to Israel, he would come riding on a donkey.
“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey” (v. 5). This was a visible parable, for those who had eyes to see.
When you read Matthew’s account, you realize that the two disciples actually
brought back two donkeys–a mother and her young colt that had never been ridden. Jesus rides into Jerusalem on the young colt with the mother walking alongside.
Nothing would have seemed more unlikely, a king riding on a donkey. He didn’t look like a king. No crown. No army marching behind. It’s not hard to imagine the Romans laughing as they watched the spectacle. A pauper king, riding on a borrowed donkey, his saddle a makeshift layer of cloaks, attended by an unruly mob whose only weapons were palm branches.
To the Romans, He didn’t look much like a king that day riding on a donkey, “nothing to worry about.”
Corrie Ten Boom, the author of “The Hiding Place” tells how God’s grace sustained her and her sister through their suffering in a Nazi concentration camp. Her story has touched the lives of millions of Christians. A few years ago, in a press conference following a ceremony in which Corrie Ten Boom was given an honorary degree, one of the reporters asked her if it was difficult remaining humble while hearing so much acclaim.
She replied immediately, “Young man, when Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the back of a donkey, and everyone was waving palm branches and throwing garments in the road and singing praises, do you think that for one moment it ever entered the head of that donkey that any of that was for him?” She continued. “If I can be the donkey on which Jesus Christ rides in His glory, I give him all the praise and all the honor.”
He’s a king, but he’s not like any earthly king. The Triumphal Entry was an “acted out parable,” in which Jesus was sending a clear message to the nation. “This is what I am! I am your King, but I am not the King you were expecting!” I am not a king who will throw out the Romans. I am the King who will defeat Satan. My cross and empty tomb will strip Him of His false power. Jesus would later tell Pilate that "My kingdom is not of this world.”
On that 1st Palm Sunday the day began much like all other days. An early sunrise. The sound of merchants opening their little shops. The aroma of freshly baked bread floating on the air. Bethany wasn’t a large town, or even a town at all. More like a village, really, a simple cluster of homes. Here and there the farmers made ready to go to the fields–planting season was upon them. Mothers busied themselves getting their children up and dressed.
Max Lucado in his book “And the Angels Were Sent” expressed his curiosity regarding the parade on Palm Sunday. He wrote: “When we all get home to heaven I know what I want to do. There’s someone I want to get to know. You go ahead and swap stories with Mary or talk doctrine with Paul. I’ll catch up to you later. But first, I want to meet the guy with the donkey.