Summary: A short but challenging homily. The disciples were sent to go and get a donkey for Jesus. How do we respond when Jesus asks things of us?
I have some Christian friends who were convinced about 2 years ago that God was asking them to buy their local pub and to continue to run it as a pub with food and alcohol being served. (At this point those of you who are anti alcohol – for whatever reason - may already be feeling sceptical, but bear with me!) They have now sold their house and invested everything in running the pub. They have faced some big challenges and many highs and lows, but with the blessing of the local Bishop there is worship happening in the pub before it opens for business on a Sunday. Around 40 people gather for worship there every week. There has been a baptism in the pub and people have come to faith in Jesus as a result of the work and witness of the Christian community in that place. Although my friends at the outset were initially nervous and at times unsure they became convinced that God was asking them to buy the pub; and so they bought it. They responded to God’s leading!
At one point in his ministry Jesus made it clear that he only ever did what he saw the Father doing. He observed carefully where his Father was at work and joined in with Him. As disciples of Jesus we must too.
When Jesus sent out the two disciples with specific instructions concerning a young donkey and the donkey’s owners we have no idea what went through their minds. If that were me I could imagine myself thinking, “Ok Lord, so you want us to go and borrow (or was that steal) a donkey; but you’ve told us what to say just in case the owners ask us what’s happening!”
The disciples of course had by now been following and learning from Jesus on an intensive 3 year discipleship course. Luke’s wording suggests a similar sending out to those previous occasions when they had been “sent out” – Luke 9:2 and Luke 10:1. It seems that when Jesus said “Go” the disciples did it!
How about us? As disciples of Jesus in this town we can learn from his first disciples; and what happened to them when they carried out Jesus’ instructions? Verse 32: “Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them.” Are we surprised?
Of course, obeying Jesus will not always be comfortable. As they were untying the colt (19:33) the owners asked: “Why are you untying the colt?” It’s pure conjecture on my part but I can imagine the disciples’ faces perhaps turning a little red at having to do the next bit: “The Lord needs it” (19:34). What was going to happen? Would it be OK? Perhaps a bit like the man who agreed to deliver invitations to Christmas services one year: “I’ll put them through doors, providing I don’t have to talk to people!”
So Jesus’ entry into town - Jerusalem - on what we now call Palm Sunday was preceded by an example of disciples responding to Jesus sending them out.
As the disciples looked upon Jesus, riding a donkey and headed for Jerusalem, they were hit by a deeper realisation of His identity. Their minds were drawn to the scriptures which told them of the King - humble and riding on a donkey; and they were reminded of words from Psalm 118: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (v26); although they legitimately changed a couple of words and began to joyfully praise God in loud voices (19:37). They shouted (19:38): “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” Then, perhaps mirroring the words of praise sung by the angels at the birth of Jesus they shouted, “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Let’s pray for one another and for the Church of the Lord Jesus in our town. Pray that we respond to the ways in which Jesus sends us out (possibly even like my friends who bought the pub) and let’s be joyful in acknowledging, praising and worshipping Jesus publicly, even though opposition may come (19:39).