Summary: Last in series on Jesus’ priorities. It’s about giving our donkeys - really, ourselves - to the Master.
Luke 19:28-38 – What the Master Needs
(NOTE: these are not original thoughts to me. Most of this cmoes from another sermon of the same name.)
Christian author Philip Yancey, in his book The Jesus I Never Knew, described Palm Sunday this way: “The triumphal entry has about it an aura of ambivalence, and as I read all the accounts together, what stands out to me now is the slapstick nature of the affair. I imagine a Roman officer galloping up to check on the disturbance. He has attended processions in Rome, where they do it right. The conquering general sits in a chariot of gold, with stallions straining at the reins and wheel spikes flashing in the sunlight. Behind him officers in polished armor display banners captured from vanquished armies. At the rear comes a ragtag procession of slaves and prisoners in chains, living proof of what happens to those who defy Rome.
“In Jesus’ triumphal entry, the adoring crowd makes up the ragtag procession: the lame, the blind, the children, the peasants from Galilee and Bethany. When the officer looks for the object of their attention he spies a forlorn figure, weeping, riding on no stallion or chariot but on the back of a baby donkey, a borrowed coat draped across its backbone serving as his saddle.”
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. Today 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 so-called, insignificant, unnamed person in this story: the man who owned the donkey. READ Luke 19:28-38.
Let’s look at this passage. 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.
Now, a good question to start with is, why the owners loan out their donkeys? There are a few possible reasons: 1) 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.
2) 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. 3) 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.
4) But I suggest another possibility. I think this man loaned his donkey to Jesus because He saw Him as THE Master. "Why are you untying the donkeys?" Once it was stated that "The Master needs it", the discussion was over. I think if they gave the donkey for one of the other reasons there would have been some additional questions: how long do you need my donkey? how far will you travel? will you make sure he is cared for? will you bring him back when you are finished? will you sign this "rental agreement?"
I think the owner of the donkey had faith. I also think he had come to three conclusions, that apply to how God reacts to all believers. 1) The true follower is willing to give what He has to the Lord. I don’t know how many donkeys this man had. Whether he had one or a hundred it doesn’t matter. Donkeys were valuable.
They were a burden-bearing animal, which meant they could transport things. They were doing what trucks do today. They were able to help care for the land. They were doing what tractors do today. They were a means of transportation. They filled the need that cars fill today.
This matters because I want you to see that this is no "little" gift. But this is what the Master needed, so this is what the Master got. God does not always ask for big things. God will not ask us to give what we don’t have. We may not feel we have anything significant to give, but God sometimes takes simple things and uses them in great ways.