Worship April 5, 2020
O Lord God, whose Son followed your will, both as Servant and Savior, and now rules in the hearts of those who accept him as King: Open our hearts to his rule, that we may rejoice in the blessings of his kingdom and share with those who honor him with their lives. In his name, we pray. AMEN.
Do any of you watch the old TV show Gunsmoke? If you do you have seen a great imagine of a donkey. That old donkey that Festus rode is a classic of what many donkeys look like. Ruth was his name, yep I said his. The story behind the mule’s name is for another time.
From just about any angle a donkey has a look of, well nothing to be too impressed with.
A donkey just doesn’t have it. How does the saying go, when God handed out looks the donkey must have been absent?
In addition to not being the most handsome animal, Donkeys are known to be awkward, stubborn, and well… not a very intelligent animal to say the least.
Not everyone dislikes donkeys. Even poems are written about them.
G.K. Chesterton wrote a poem titled The Donkey. The donkey in this poem has a message for those of us who make fun or laugh at him:
When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.
Jesus the Messiah rides into Jerusalem on an undignified donkey! not on a noble white stallion, but on a plain old donkey.
Everything Jesus did just cried out: “Humility.”
- he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians
- For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, Mark
- For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians
- He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John
- Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew
- Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew
- And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” John
Scripture Matthew 21: 1-11
Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King
21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage (Beth-fa-gee) on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”[a]
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c]
“Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
The first 20 chapters of the book of Matthew share the story of Jesus birth and the numerous miracles, signs, and wonders performed by Jesus as he revealed his identity as the Son of God and the promised Messiah of God’s people.
Much of Jesus ministry was carried out in poor areas of rural Galilee. Now Jesus, his disciples, and growing crowds were on the path to Jerusalem. For Jesus this begins the final days to the cross.
As Jesus moves towards Jerusalem crowds of his followers were coming around him. Enthusiasm about Jesus was growing among the people. They have seen or heard out the work Jesus is doing
- They have seen the miracles,
- been feed,
- been healed,
- and some have been delivered from demons.
Not everyone is following Him,
- we have also seen some seeking Jesus have fallen away (Rich young ruler)
To some it seems the cost of following Jesus was more than they had bargained for.
In addition to those that couldn’t being themselves to follow there are the religious leaders whose opposition has grown more consistent and intense.
Now we find the crowds are on a path to Jerusalem, along with people from all over Israel, to come into this holy city to celebrate Passover.
As Jesus and his followers come to Bethpage (Beth-fa-gee) an outlying village just over a mile from the city he gave specific instructions to his disciples to get him a mama donkey and her young colt, for him to ride from the village to the city on.
This doesn’t make much sense to us, and it likely did not make much sense to the disciples.
For the disciples these instructions probably seemed pretty strange. Jesus tells them to find the colt and untie it and IF anyone asks tells them “The Lord needs them.” Ah ok?
Don’t ask for permission, don’t try to buy or rent the animals, just find them somewhere along the road, untie them and bring them to me.
I don’t suggest you motorcycle riders go to Sturges, find a guy’s motorcycle parked along the road, start hotwiring it and when the owner confronts you tell him God needs to ride it in Mora to kick off the summer parade. It would not go well.
Maybe Jesus had made arrangements with someone the last time he was in town or he knew the heart of the donkeys’ owner. Regardless of the planning involved we have to recognize this request and scene is a little odd, unless we know Jesus intentions.
Verse 4-8 identify the prophesy being fulfilled.
This isn’t a standalone event; this is the fulfillment of words of the prophet Zechariah in chapter 9: verses 10-11.
This isn’t Jesus getting caught up in the excitement of the moment and doing something spontaneous. He is making his identity clear by his actions. There is more to this prophesy than Jesus simply showing the humility of his mission as King of the Jews, there is something greater.
This is Jesus sitting on a colt on the humble garments of his disciples, Jesus is ready for his “grand” entrance. Not as a grand king on his white stallion but a humble man on the humble donkey.
With crowds of his followers and supporters before him and more behind him we have this extraordinary scene entering Jerusalem. They are excited and they are singing, chanting and calling out to Jesus about Jesus.
Just as we have songs that remind us of certain seasons (christmas, easter) Israel had songs that were sung in preparation of Passover. So as the great crowds cry out “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
They are welcoming Jesus as the true King, and messiah-savior of God’s people into the heart of this holy city. Many are honoring Jesus as a king, both those coming into the city and those already there.
But with this honor the crowds have expectations of Jesus and what he will accomplish on their behalf.
We hear them cry out “Hosanna!” It’s one of those churchy words we hear but don’t really know. It means “SAVE NOW!” It is an urgent crying out for deliverance from Rome. Jesus is here, he is the “Son of David” the king.
The crowds behind him are the poor from the country and they want prosperity, the crowds in front of him feel the oppression of Roman occupation in their city and they want power.
And here is this humble man on a donkey. A man on a mission, a mission that doesn’t include wealth for the poor or freedom from Roman occupation. But instead a man that dies a brutal death on a cross, a death for you and I, a death and resurrection with life-saving ramifications for us.
Perhaps the best summary of what this humble man did is found in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Today we acknowledge this humble man and the extraordinary thing He did for you and for me.
Let us pray: Almighty God, we come to You today in order to thank You for how far You are willing to go in order to let us know that we are loved, that we are important, and that our lives truly do have real meaning—no matter who we are…no matter what we look like…no matter where we come from. Make us to be people you know we can be. In Jesus name and for His sake we pray
Special Music Yes, I Believe Ruthanne Harman
On the night in which he gave himself up for us,
he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread,
gave it to his disciples, and said:
“Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
When the supper was over, he took the cup,
gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said:
“Drink from this, all of you;
this is my blood of the new covenant,
poured out for you and for many
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of me.”
We do not know what the future will hold for us, but we are assured that whatever happens, God is with us! Follow Jesus boldly to the cross and beyond. For God’s promises are good and true. You are beloved. Go in peace. AMEN.
Mora and Ogilvie United Methodist Churches are closed from Saturday, March 28, through Friday, April 10, in keeping with Governor’s executive order to stay at home the next two weeks.
Bishop Bruce Ough supports this decision and has asked all United Methodist churches in Minnesota not to host in-person worship through May 10.
Special Music today is provided by pianist Nora Houglum soloist Ruthanne Harman