Summary: Palm Sunday
"What the Master Needs"
Luke 19:28-38 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rev. Bruce Goettsche (4/16/2000)
The story of our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem is a familiar one for most church people. They have heard this story Year after year. But the great thing about God’s Word is that even the most family story is fresh if we listen carefully and sometimes even in familiar accounts you see things you hadn’t seen before. There are a lot of great lessons in the story of the Triumphal Entry:
there is the way Jesus comes boldly and publicly into Jerusalem even though everyone knows he is a "marked man"
there is His bold declaration that He is the Messiah. He does this by coming into Jerusalem riding on the foal of a donkey. The prophet Zechariah points to this event as a pointer to the coming Messiah.
there is the demeanor of Jesus as he enters the city. He doesn’t comes in as a conquering ruler He comes humbly as a King of Peace. The Warrior would ride a horse, the peace-maker rides a donkey.
there is the deep evidence of the love that Jesus has for His people which we see through the tears that He cries over Jerusalem.
These are all great lessons. But this morning I want to focus on a part of the story that perhaps you have never really thought about. I want to draw your attention to a bit player in this great event. The person I draw your attention to is someone who is unnamed . . . he is the man who owned the donkey. Listen to our text in Luke,
As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "God 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. If anyone asks you, "Why are you untying it?" tell him, "The Lord needs it.’"
Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?" They replied, "The Lord needs it." (Luke 19:28-34)
Our text talks about "owners" of the donkey. Perhaps one person owned the donkey and one owned the foal of the donkey. Perhaps there were two family members who were owners of the donkey by virtue of their family. Truth is, I don’t know. But I am going to look at this as if there was one primary owner.
We can be pretty safe in concluding that this owner lived in Bethpage or Bethany. Both these towns were "suburbs" of Jerusalem. They were very close together and I don’t think either was very big. Consequently, it is likely that this man knew the people who lived in the two towns. . . at least any significant people. Perhaps you remember that Bethany was the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. When Jesus went to Jerusalem he usually stayed with this family. I suspect when Jesus was in town, everyone knew it.
This may not seem significant to you at first. But remember your chronology. The gospel of John tells us that just recently, in this Bethany (maybe even a day or two earlier) the town was buzzing with the news that Lazarus had died, been laid in the tomb, and then brought back from the dead by Jesus. To say the least, this would have been big news! I wonder if our donkey owner was there? Maybe he was a friend of Lazarus. Perhaps he was there the day Jesus arrived. Maybe he was one of those who stood with awe as Lazarus walked out of the tomb.
Let me tell you why this is significant. There are lots of suggested reasons as to why these men let these disciples take their donkeys.
This was typical Eastern Hospitality. Especially at Passover, the locals knew that they needed to lend what they could to their visiting countryman. Therefore loaning the donkey was a common courtesy.
Some suggest that this would have been an honor to let a distinguished rabbi ride your beast. In other words, they allowed them to take the donkey as a matter of pride.
Some others suggest that perhaps Jesus had arranged for the use of the donkey much earlier and he set up a password of "the master needs him". In other words they gave him the donkey as part of a business deal.
But I suggest another possibility. I think this man loaned his donkey to Jesus because He saw Him as THE Master. He saw what Jesus did, He heard Him speak and He believed. Since He believed that He was the Lord . . . everything he had was now at the Master’s disposal. For him, loaning the donkey was an act of worship and love.