Palm Sunday – Jesus Triumphal entrance to Jerusalem on a Donkey
We are so thankful to have you here on Palm Sunday. As most of you know, Palm Sunday leads into Easter Sunday, or as I like to call it, Resurrection Sunday. Now, this is an interesting time of the year because it’s one of those times of the year when people either don’t know Jesus or don’t believe in Jesus. They even start to focus on Jesus Christ. Easter is not about the bunnies, the eggs, the celebrations, the chocolate, the change, the cash, the eggs, and all of that kind of stuff. Even if these activities are part of our tradition. But it’s all about the events leading up to the
of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Now, how many of you know this kind of story of Palm Sunday? You’ve heard the story of Palm Sunday. I just had Chuck read a portion of the story of Palm Sunday. We’re not really going to focus so much today on the story itself, but we’re going to study some of the aspects of the story, and we’re going to look at this from what’s probably going to be a new perspective for you.
We’re going to look at some of the lessons we can learn from the donkey in the story. Most of us have never thought about that before. As I was thinking through the Palm Sunday lesson, what should we talk about? Because what I didn’t want to do is get up here and tell the exact same Palm Sunday story you’ve heard over and over again. I want to look at it today from a different standpoint. I want to look at what can we learn from the donkey? Now for those of you that like TV shows, this is going to be a little bit different for you because I had Chuck kind of read the end of the story, and now we’re going to do the earlier part today, and that was by design. We’re going to look at kind of the events leading up to that passage that Chuck just read for us.
I want you to pay attention to some of the words that I’ve underlined in our verses of scripture today. We’re going to come back to that a little bit later on in our lesson. Where do we learn our lessons from? Sometimes we learn lessons from nature and from science. We also learn from the way things work in our world. Sometimes we learn lessons from each other, sometimes those are good lessons, and sometimes those are not so good lessons. Now, for those of you that have a boss or have had a boss in the past, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You learn something from everybody that comes into your life, and sometimes that’s a good thing, right? There are things you want to emulate, things you want to do in your own life. Sometimes it is. Please don’t let me ever act like that person. Sometimes we learn lessons from each other, and sometimes we can even learn lessons from the animal kingdom. We can learn lessons from the way animals behave, from the way animals interact with one another. Today we’re going to learn some biblical lessons from the donkey.
I invite you to turn with me to Luke chapter 19. We’re going to start in verse 28. Luke 19:28. After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead going up to Jerusalem. So, this is kind of the context of our story, right? We know that Jesus is about to go to Jerusalem to start this week. This week has become known as Passion Week. Now, I want you to put yourself in Jesus’ shoes just for a second, or maybe it’s in Jesus’ sandals. Just for a second. Jesus knew what was about to happen. Jesus knew in about a week’s time that he was going to be crucified on the cross. Now, sometimes we on Sunday night, we start stressing about going to work on Monday morning. I got to go sit in traffic tomorrow. My boss is always in a bad mood on Mondays. I have to do the weekly reports on Mondays. And we start to kind of get stressed out about it, right? I always see everybody complaining about Monday on social media, even though it comes around every seven days.
We get so fixed on Mondays and all this week ahead is going to be brutal. What do you think Jesus was feeling? Not only was he going to have a difficult week at work, but it was going to end with him being put in physical and emotional pain beyond what you and I can even comprehend. Jesus is about to set out on this journey that would ultimately lead to the end of his life here on Earth. As we continue with our scripture, it says, as he approached Bethany at the Hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples saying to them, go to the village ahead of you. As you enter it, you will find a colt tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it to me. Now, I did think it was a little bit interesting that in Luke’s account, he doesn’t mention by name who those two Apostles were. Think about that for just a second. Luke, who we know is one of the more detail-oriented Apostles, doesn’t list the Apostles by name. So how do you think these guys were feeling?
Jesus is giving them very specific instructions on how they are to do it. He specifically mentions that they’re going to need to untie the donkey and that if anybody asks, well, just tell them it’s for me. Verse 32 says those that were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them as they were untying the donkey. Once again, we see that as they were untying the colt, its owners ask them, why are you untying the colt? Here’s another one of those kinds of funny exchanges in the Bible. People say there’s no comedy in the Bible, but there is. So, here they are, right?
It’s like Ray, me and you, we got to go get a donkey for Jesus. Imagine that conversation, as they’re walking ahead to go get the donkey. Man, Peter gets to walk on water and you and I get to go get a donkey. This ought to be funny. But my point is he sent his Apostles to go forward, and he sent them to go get the donkey. You’ll notice I’ve been underlining words for you with the word “untie”. I want you to think as we go through our sermon today, as we go through our lesson, as we think about this important event. I want you to think about the word “untie” because he uses it over and over and over again in our passage, which means that’s important for us. Verse 31 says, if anyone asks you why you are untying it, he says, “say the Lord needs it.” I like that. If anybody asks why you’re doing it, say the Lord needs it. So he’s giving them the direction, right? He’s sending them off on their mission. Now, granted, some of us are like, that’s a go for a mission. Go for this, go for that, go for this, go get me a cult just right where Jesus said it would be. They go to get the donkey untethered and the owner says, hey, Whoa! excuse me, what are you doing?
You remember last week when we talked about the story of the paralytic, right? They were cutting the hole in the roof to get the paralytic man to Jesus. The owner was like, hey, why are you cutting holes in my roof? We see that same kind of thing going on this week, right? Only instead of cutting holes in the roof, they’re untying the man’s donkey. Now, on the surface, you may say it’s just a donkey, but you have to remember the time, place, and context of the animals you owned. The property you owned during this time and place would have been very valuable to you. You might not have necessarily just been like, oh, well, if that’s the case, go ahead and take it. But remember, God is at work in our story and that’s the first lesson we learned from the donkey: “be accessible”. It’s to be at the right time and in the right place so that God can use us for His purposes. I don’t want you to take a few minutes this morning to think about that. Are you in the right time and the right place for God to use you?
No one could argue it’s Sunday morning and you’re in church. You’re exactly where you need to be. But are we not only physically, but are we mentally in the right place for God to use us? See, the donkey was in the right place and at the right time. We know that the donkey was right where Jesus said it would be.
I want to take a quick journey back to
Zechariah 9:9 NIV
The Coming of Zion’s King
9 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
See, we know if we’ve been faithful in reading our Bible, right? We know in the Old Testament it was prophesied about the donkey. And in verse nine, it says, Rejoice greatly, daughter Zion. It says, Shout, Daughter Jerusalem, see your King come to you righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey on a colt, the foal of a donkey. So, see, we know all the way back from the Old Testament that this was going to happen. This is one of those cool things about the Bible, there are so many prophecies we can find in the Old Testament that come to pass in the New Testament. Why is that important? Because when people say, oh, the Bible is just a book, and when they say, oh, the Bible is just this thing that was written by man, we know that’s not the case because there are too many prophecies in the Bible that came to pass for us to say that’s just a coincidence.
It’s just happenstance. No, see, this is how we know because it was foretold hundreds of years before it actually takes place. We knew that the donkey was going to be there. The donkey was right where God had placed it. It was right where it needed to be for the Apostles to find and for Jesus to use. We find throughout Scripture that donkeys are used. We’re talking about this journey that Jesus is about to make, this stressful, just emotionally, physically difficult journey that he’s going to make. Does that recall anything from way back? How did Mary travel? Mary traveled not a donkey. Right? You talk about uncomfortably physically and emotionally. Try being nine months pregnant on the back of a donkey traveling through the desert. But see, once again, we see that donkeys are used. Now, there’s a funny thing about donkeys. Now, I grew up in farm country, so I’m somewhat familiar with donkeys. But for some of you Orange County folks who maybe aren’t familiar with donkeys, donkeys are stubborn animals. They are very stubborn animals. We’re going to get into that a little bit further in just a minute.
But donkeys are not quite the same as horses, even though they’re related, but they can be very stubborn. I want you to keep that in mind as we continue. Verse 34 says, they replied, the Lord needs it. Remember, that’s what Jesus told them to do. They’re doing exactly what Jesus told them to do. It says they brought it to Jesus through their clothes on the colt and put Jesus on it. Now I’m assuming they probably put the clothes on there to make a nice, more comfortable, at least seating area for Jesus since they didn’t have a saddle as we might use today. They put their coats on the back of the colt, see? And that brings into the next lesson that I want you to know when it says they brought the donkey to him. The donkey went along with the program, right? Remember what we just said. Donkeys are not going to do what they don’t want to do. You can pull and you can tug and short of a forklift. You’re not going to get a donkey to do something that it doesn’t want to do. They’re known as very stubborn animals.
Some of you can relate because you may be married to a very stubborn animal, but donkeys are stubborn. They’re not going to go anywhere that they don’t want to go. But see, the donkey was willing to see, the donkey was an active participant in our story that we often forget about. But it’s a great lesson for us because not only do we need to be in the right time and the right place, but we have to be willing to do the work that God would have us to do. We got to be in the right place at the right time. And that doesn’t always just mean here at church. And yes, this is where you should be on a Sunday morning, but you need to be at the right time, in the right place when you’re out in the world as well. Are you in a place that God can use you? Are you open to God using you? Does he put you in places to share Jesus with others? And what happens when he puts you in that place, when that coworker starts asking questions, when you feel that urge in your heart to invite someone to Church. Are you willing to do it because he got to put you in the right time and place just like he did for the donkey?
But now we got to take that next step and be willing to do the work that God has given us to do, and he puts you in those positions. Sometimes we step up and we do the right thing. And other times, what do we do? We don’t really want to talk to somebody about Jesus today or what do we do? When someone needs help, we kind of do this. I’m on my phone. Hello? Yeah, Hi. God puts us in the right place at the right time, but we got to be willing to take the next step. Verse 36 says, and as he went along, people spread their cloaks along the road. Now, this is where we know that as Jesus is making this journey, he knows where this journey is leading, people were recognizing who he was. We know they call it Palm Sunday. Why? Because they used palm leaves as well. They laid palm leaves on the road. They laid their coats on the road. They were making a way for Jesus because, see, people had heard about this man named Jesus. They had heard about this amazing man who, as Chuck mentioned, was at least a Prophet, if not more.
Some of them thought that he was coming to reign on the throne. Some of them thought he was coming into Jerusalem as a King. But here comes this man on a donkey instead. Jesus could have ridden in on whatever he wanted, whatever God’s will for him would have been. It could have been a stallion; it could have been an elephant. But he chose a donkey. The reason he chose a donkey is that He was showing humility. Donkeys were often used in the Bible as the conveyance method for times of peace. When there were peace treaties and things like that, oftentimes they would use a donkey because it was a sign of peace. So, here people were expecting Jesus to come roaring into town, with a big parade, and he was going to take over the throne and he was going to destroy all the enemies of the Israelites. And he was just going to make everything right. See, that’s what some people thought he was there to do. Some of this fanfare right as he’s coming in is somewhat confusing because some thought, here comes the King here on Earth, and some realized who Jesus really was.
I like to think about this scene. It would have been an amazing scene because these people had come from everywhere to see this man called Jesus. Some were there because they had heard the prophecies about this amazing man that was going to come and save the world. Some were just there out of curiosity. I want to see what’s going to happen, they thought. See, we’re a curious people, right? If you want to question that concept, wait until the next time you see an accident on the freeway and what do we all do? We slow down and we look and make traffic even worse. Some people would have been doing that very same thing. Hey, I got to see what’s going to happen here. I got to see what’s going to happen when this man enters the city. It says when he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began to joyfully praise him, God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen. That bird really wants to come to church every Sunday. That bird hits the window over and over and over again.
Shouldn’t we all want to come to Church as badly as that bird? See, God puts people in the right time and place. He put the bird there, made it knock on the window so I could make a point that may be a little bit of a stretch, but that bird really wants in every Sunday. No doubt some of these people had seen the amazing things that Jesus had done or had, at least in the very least heard about. All these amazing things that Jesus had done. And they didn’t have TikTok, right? They couldn’t rely on one person to go and film it so everybody else could watch. They came from miles around to see this man, to figure out who he was and what he was going to do. It says, they were joyful in praising him. They were joyful in praising Jesus. Are we joyful in praising Jesus? I hope we are. Verse 38 says, Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven and glory in the highest. Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, Teacher, rebuke your disciples.
I tell you. He replied, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out. So, they were saying, hey, teacher, these people think you’re God. Correct them. Fix this. Remember our story last week? Same thing, right? The Pharisees and the teachers of the law, who do you think you are? And that’s exactly what they were saying here. They still don’t believe who He is. They’re saying, hey, tell those people to stop calling you God. I love the response because, see, here’s, that comedy again, right here. That comedy part of the Bible. He says, hey, I don’t know what to tell you. If the people don’t say it, the rocks will. He knows what’s about to happen. But yet he moves forward with the plan that God had for His life. That’s the final lesson we learn from this story. That’s the final lesson we learned from the donkey, right? As far as we know, you can read all of the accounts of this. The donkey goes along with the plan. He allows Jesus to climb on. He doesn’t throw him off.
And he makes the journey along with Jesus to fulfill the will of God. See, that’s the other lesson that we learn. We’re in the right place at the right time. We’re willing. Then we go along with God’s plan. See, it’s not enough just to say, yes, Jesus, I believe you are who you say you are. And then go about lead our lives the way we want to. We got to act right. Some of you who are parents, you’ve told your kids that, right? You better act right. But that’s the other lesson we learn from the donkey is the donkey went along with the plan. What’s the plan? We know the plan. The plan of Salvation. The Bible tells us, go out and make disciples. Are we doing that? Are we in the right place and with the right frame of mind to do it? Are we willing to do it? Do we carry out the plan? See, it’s this whole idea. We talk a lot about the distance between your head and your heart. We all know that’s what we’re supposed to be doing. But do we let it get into our heart?
Do we make it a part of our lives? What are some ways we can be more like the donkey, things you never thought you’d hear in church? What are some of the ways we can be more like the donkey in our story? Well, first of all, I want us to think about what are some of the things that we need to untie ourselves from so that God can use us to our fullest capabilities? What are the things that are holding you back? What are the things that you’ve become so tied to that God can’t use? You see, God couldn’t use the donkey until he was untied and God can’t use you and me until we’re untied. Are we tied to our jobs? Are we tied to the pursuit of money? Are we tied to doing the things we know we’re not supposed to be doing? Are those the things that are holding us back? That’s what I want us to think about this morning. What are the things that are holding you back from following Jesus more closely? What are the things that are holding you back from really fulfilling God’s plan for your life?
What are those things? It’s going to be different for each and every one of us. But we got to untie from those things that are holding us back. We got to untie from those unhealthy behaviors. We got to untie from those addictions. We got to untie from our bad habits so that God can truly use us to the fullest of our potential. We got to be available, we got to be accessible, right? We got to be accommodating, and we got to untie ourselves from the things that are deterring us from having the relationship with Jesus Christ that not only He wants us to have, but that we want to have with Him. So, see, when we first started, you said the donkey!! What can we learn from a donkey? But see, there’s so much just good stuff throughout scripture that if we’re willing to stop and take a look at it and spend some time with it and wrestle with what is God trying to tell us? We can learn some new things from old passages. Now maybe you’re here with us this morning and you’ve never had that chance to untie yourself from your old life.
See the beautiful thing about a relationship with Jesus Christ the beautiful thing when you give yourself to Jesus you get to untie from all of your past mistakes. You no longer have to be defined by your past. If you’ve never had the opportunity to do that, we would love to invite you to do so this morning. You have the ability to come forward, to be baptized, to untie yourself from all of those things in your past. Or maybe you’ve been a Christian your whole life. Maybe you’ve been a Jesus follower your whole life but somehow, you’ve just let those knots become tighter and tighter and tighter and you’ve become tied down to the things in your life that you know you need to put behind you. I’m going to invite Brandon to come back up and he’s going to sing what’s called the song of invitation and if we can help you in any way, if we can pray for you, if we can talk to you, if we can walk alongside you or if we can help you commit your life to Christ, I want to invite you to do that as we stand together.