SERMON: Is that an ass?
Is That An Ass?
Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King
28 After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go 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. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”
32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.”
35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”[a]
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
By now you have received your palms, which are symbolic of today as we celebrate the entrance of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. I’d like to speak about what this day means to us as Christians and how the symbolism of this ride and the vehicle of choice puts into context 1.) who we are as Christians and 2.) what our lives ought to reflect as a consequence of what we learn from Christ in 2017.
Today is the beginning of what we call the Holy Week. We have 7 days to realize the miracle that is the A.) death, B.) burial and C.) resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Q: Is today important? A: Sure it is. Q: How important is today? A: That depends on how much you know about:
Who Christ is
Why Christ came, and
What that means to us today
At one moment in history, Christ helps us more than most of us even understand. He teaches us a lesson about who we are and how we are supposed to act in an oppressive society, oppressive relationship, and oppressive world. The problem is whether or not we truly understand the message of his entrance.
[Circle City Classic/500] Before the Circle City Classic football game we have a parade. Is there a message to that? Before the Indianapolis 500 there will be a parade! Is there a message to that? Do we understand the banners, the trumpets, the marching, that floats, the horses, the motorcycles, the cheers, the waving and the routes? Today, do we get the message of the palms we hold in our hands? And, if I asked you to wave them like a parade was passing by, would we understand the significance? Do we truly understand the importance of the Passover? Do we understand the significance of the prophecy fulfilled? Do we truly get it? Do we get the importance of the cloaks, the Pharisees, the singing, the Psalm? Do we get all that this journey means?
It all begins with Israel’s desire for Revenge
• They want punishment not discipline for their oppressors! In other words, they want Jesus to come and “Get Um!”
[Story] My mother tells a story that when
I was in kindergarten she was racing my sister and I to St. Rita for school. Well, before long the flashing lights and sirens came up behind her and she was flagged down by a policeman. He approached the car and did what you would have expected him to do. He gave her a generous speeding ticket.
While my sister watched in horror and fear I, on the other hand, rose up from the back seat, stood in the middle of the car and proclaimed to the police officer, “if you give my momma another ticket, I’m gonna hit you like this and hit you like that! I’m going to hit you like this and hit you like that!”
I didn’t like what the police man had done by penalizing my mother. Although he had the authority to do what he did, because it was my mother who was being charged with speeding, I wanted to stand up for her. I wanted to get back at that man. I wanted revenge.
Today’s message is skewed by the fact that the children of Israel are tired of their Roman oppression. They are sick and tired of being denied the freedom that they believe they deserve. They’re looking, searching and desiring something or someone to save them from Roman control and domination.
Then here comes Christ who is the self-proclaimed savior of the Jews.
Christ is on a mission
He knows who sent him (When you’ve seen me you’ve seen the father)
He knows what he’s sent to do (I came that you might have abundant life)
He knows that he has to follow the script (In order to save the world I have to die)
The people were looking for a worrier
Elisha anoints Jehu king. 2 Kings 9:1-13
They want a king that will fight for them (physically not spiritually)
They want revenge (They want war not peace)
They want punishment to the Romans (Get em!)
Jesus came to bring peace, not war
He came to fulfill prophecy (Zechariah 9:9-10)
The strategy was already laid out (There was a divine strategy to Jesus’ actions)
Jesus prepares for his entry
• He sent two men someone ahead of him to do what he told them to do
Jesus gives the instructions – Say what I tell you to say. The plan is laid out.
[PROBLEM] The Jews were anticipating that Jesus would come into Jerusalem with majesty as other kings symbolically did.
[WATCH THIS] During the 19th century, Chancellor Bismarck of Prussia entered into the City of Jerusalem riding a white horse. So great were the number of soldiers and officials that an entire section of the city wall had to be removed.
In 2008, when the presidential debate came to Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, the area around the university was paralyzed because of the presence of the future President. Streets were blocked; officials were escorted through the city with parades of police, flashing lights, security detail, armed gunmen and sharp shooters. All because of who was coming?
[Jerusalem] This was the scene in Jerusalem on this Passover weekend. There were an estimated 1 to 1.5 million male Jews in the city for the Passover celebration. This was a high time in the area and the anticipation of Jesus’ coming was at a fever pitch.
[BUT WHAT HAPPENS?] When the gates opened, everyone gasps! They don’t block the streets. There was no police escort! There were no sharp shooters! There are no soldiers lining the pathway. As a matter of fact, there is no pathway. There are no trumpets blaring! There are no white horses and chariots.
All over the city the murmur is spread like lighting amongst the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Sanhedrin officials, “Is that an ass? Our new king of the Jews is on an ass!” They couldn’t believe it. Where was the majesty of the messiah? Surely Jesus and his disciples had read the account of Jehu. Where is the majesty?
[ANSWER] Jesus rides into the city not as a warrior, but as a servant.
[HOW IS THIS GOING TO WORK?] The disciples begin to sing and worship Jesus and others begin to join in. They are worshipping him even though many are asking themselves how is this lowly, weak Jesus going to defeat the Roman army? How is this man riding an ass going to get us the revenge we seek?
[QUESTION] One of the disciples was questioned in a historical writing found in the Babylonian Talmud. The Persian king Shevor asked “why doesn't your Messiah come riding on a horse? If he lacks one, I'll be glad to provide him with one of my best!” (Sanhedrin 98a). Indeed, why should the Messiah come on a donkey?
[ANSWER] The answer lies in the symbolism of the ass, which in some Eastern traditions seems to be seen as an animal of peace, versus the horse, which is the animal of war. Therefore, it was said that a king came riding upon a horse when he was bent on war and rode upon a donkey when he wanted to point out that he was coming in peace. Thus, the king riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey complies with the epithet - gentle or lowly and strongly implies the message of peace.
[LESSON] What is the lesson here. We must remember why Jesus came to die for us. He came that we might find peace in the midst of what we are going through. No matter what!
Remember Luke 2:14 Shepherds in the fields were addressed by angels and a multitude of heavenly hosts singing Peace on earth, good will toward men.
[The Cost] Even as Christ came to bring peace, it comes at a significant cost.
v. 37 In the midst of the worship going up to heaven, there were those who said to Christ, you are embarrassing us, this is not what we expected, tell your disciples to be quiet! v. 39.
Here’s the lesson: Don’t block your own blessing
Christ let’s them know, I can’t tell them to stop worshiping me, because if I do, there will be tribulation on earth and the rocks will cry out. There will be chaos. There will be disorder. I didn’t come for that! I came in peace!
The ass that Christ rides into Jerusalem on is symbolic of the promises God has for your life. You may want to have it your way, with majesty and trumpets, the way you want them to come. When that doesn’t happen, many of us are ashamed of what God has blessed us with. Many of us are ashamed of what comes riding into our lives. And we disregard and block our own blessings because we can’t come to grips with the ass.
You wanted 6 foot 4, 220 pounds of a man and God sent you 5 foot 10, 150 and you’re like the Pharisees are asking “Is that an ass?”
You want a job paying $100,000 a year with stock options and God sends you $40,000 down the street from your house and you’re mad, embarrassed to give your business card out and asking “Is that an ass?”
You wanted a career that will take you to board rooms and a big bank account and God sends you an under funded career working with children in a classroom and you’re ashamed to go to your high school reunion.
You wanted the latest luxury Mercedes Benz and God sent you a 1987 Honda Accord and you’re asking God, what is this an ass?
I want my blessings on a silver platter. I want to show up my neighbors. I want to impress my girl friends. I want to impress my boys. I want to get back at my parents for what they said to me. I want my teachers to eat their words. I want my life to be held up in front of everyone I know and for people to applaud at the mention of my name. I want the attention.
[DEFINITION] The problem here is that we are attempting to make the house, the car, the spouse, the girlfriend, the boyfriend, the bank account, the job, the career, the degree define who we are.
Christ is saying, you’ve got it wrong. When he sat on the ass, THE ASS DIDN’T DEFINE CHRIST! WHEN HE SAT ON THE ASS, He defined the ass and the ass didn’t define him. It was a symbol that was destined for greatness because it was set apart to be defined by Christ.
He said I came to serve and to save. While I can do all things, there are some things I won’t do. He says, “I won’t go back on my word.” He came to bring peace to those who believe that he is.
Christ wants to come into your heart. But, he’s not coming the way you think he should. He’s not coming the way you want him to. And the only way you are going to be able to get peace in your mind, heart and life is to change your expectation and open your understanding of what God has promised you. If he promised to bless you with a job, it doesn’t matter how the job comes, worship Christ because it’s a blessing from God.
If he promised you good health, it doesn’t matter how it comes, worship Christ because it’s a blessing from God. If he promised a degree, it doesn’t matter how long it takes, worship Christ because it’s a blessing from God. If he promised you a family, it doesn’t matter how it comes, worship Christ because it’s a blessing from God.
Don’t let an Ass block your blessing…