Whose Donkey Is This? The Real Story of Palm Sunday

Monday, April 06, 2009 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

Luke 19:28, When He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet,that He sent two of His disciples,30saying, “Go into the village opposite you,where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. 31And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’” 32So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. 33But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of him.”35Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. 36 And as He went,many spread their clothes on the road. 37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying: “ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” 40But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

Jesus rides on the faith of givers and worshipers. When we want Jesus to enter our lives and circumstances, we must be prepared to follow His instructions, demonstrate our faith, and worship from our heart and with our substance. Jesus looks for faith, since it is the environment of blessing and miracles.

Some key points in this text:

1. Obedience, "Go into the village...."
2. Attention to detail, "Find a colt tied..." (not "now what did Jesus say?")
3. Recognition of Jesus' authority, "The Lord has need of it..."
4. Sacrificial giving by unnamed owner of donkey,
5. Sacrificial giving by the disciples and onlookers, "They spread their OWN clothes on the donkey..."
6. Remembrance of blessing, "All the mighty works they had seen..."
7. Loud praise, "Blessed is the King who comes..."

We call this "Palm Sunday" because of the palm branches that were broken off and both waved and laid before Jesus (John 12:13). But the real sacrifice came from the man whose donkey was borrowed and those who laid their clothes on the donkey and on the ground before Jesus. Something noted in Luke's gospel.

The fact that we focus on the palm branches is an interesting commentary on the level of our faith and personal worship. Waving palms is an appropriate celebration, but being true worshiper requires much more.

What would we call "Palm Sunday" if we recognized the greater cost of faith and worship? What if we were required to give up our own cars, equipment (today's donkeys) and the clothes we are wearing today? Most people would rather rip down some palm branches and wave them around than do something truly valuable.

The unknown person who allowed his donkey to be used started something. He is the most significant person in this story other than Jesus. Given our bent towards religious traditions, if the donkey owner had a name, people would have probably named a church after him long ago. We like stories with people and things that we can imagine and dramatize.

But God likes stories that highlight Jesus and principles of the kingdom of God.

Faith and worship without commitment or cost is empty and ineffective. Being passive is another form of doubt and unbelief.

David knew this when he identified a site for construction of the temple of God.

1 Chronicles 21:23-25, But Ornan said to David, “Take i tto yourself, and let my lord the king do what is good in his eyes. Look, I also give you the oxen for burnt offerings, the threshing implements for wood, and the wheat for the grain offering; I give it all.”24 Then King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.” 25 So David gave Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the place.

David was willing to pay full price for something he intended to use for God's glory. He understood that faith and worship were not cheap.

Another example: The four men who carried the paralytic to the meeting where Jesus was ministering realized that being passive wouldn't help their friend.

Mark 2:3-5,Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. 4And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”

They risked much to climb onto the roof of a house, break through the roof, and lower their friend into the presence of Jesus. Notice that the text states the Jesus "saw their faith."

Real faith can be seen by the genuine, and often costly, actions taken by people who are serious about the Lord. We all remember that "faith without works is dead."

Whose donkey is this?
Why did the owner allow his donkey to be used? Would you allow Jesus' followers to take your car, furniture or something of real value? A palm branch is not really anything significant.

Donkeys were valuable and were often co-owned by several families since they were poor and unable to afford their own.

Something the donkey owner may have known

There have been ancient laws that required citizens to render to any King any item or service he or one of his emissaries might require. The donkey owner clearly knew something about Jesus. I suggest to you that he loved Jesus and recognized His kingly authority. For all we know, this man or a family member may have been healed by Jesus.

In John 14:23, Jesus says, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word..." Because of some level of love, the donkey owner was willing to do something significant for Jesus.

He also became a part of God's prophetic plan. Somehow, he sensed that Jesus was a King who brought life, provision and a high return on any investment.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9,

If you had been there, would you have given your best coat or garment to Jesus? You say "Yes!" but would if the purpose was not for wearing, but to become a saddle on a donkey's back for Jesus to sit upon? Or what if your suit or dress were used to lay on the ground for Jesus and the donkey to walk on?

It's time for us to prepare the way for Jesus through raising the level of our serving, giving, praising and starting something so powerful that even bystanders take notice.

Not even the Pharisees could dampen the reality of this worship and praise. Jesus said that if the people did not serve and praise Him, that the rocks would cry out! Everything in creation that is not under the control of the devil (like Pharisees and too many folks today) wants to praise God.

Remember: "Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation."

Now put that little palm branch down and go get something worth giving to our King and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!