Eugene Cho

Palm Sunday: He’s Jesus. He’s Lord. We’re not. We’re just the donkey (or ass). Remember, it’s not about us.

Palm Sunday.

I’m very fond of this season in the Christian calendar because I can mention the word “ass” during my blog post and sermon and still keep all the fundamentalists off my back. ;)

But seriously, the message of Palm Sunday is very significant. True, this fulfills the prophecy of the Old Testament and that’s very significant but there’s more:

The image of Jesus riding on a donkey – aka “an ass” – during Palm Sunday is a great paradox.

In some ways, it’s when things go downhill really fast for Jesus and for anyone and everyone associated with Jesus that had a different agenda about “the Kingdom” than Jesus.

In reality, there were tough and challenging things prior to Palm Sunday. For example:

  • Jesus kept hanging out with the lowly, the tax collectors, prostitutes, the sick, and even the children. The religious leaders wanted him to join their posse and cohort. Even his best friends wanted Jesus to act and hang out with the more dignified. Like they say, your company says a great deal about who you are.
  • Jesus went through Samaria and gasp…chatted with a Samaritan woman in broad daylight.
  • Jesus kept talking about loving your neighbors and even worse, loving your enemies.

There were challenges but #TeamJesus had some serious momentum. They were kicking butt and were making a name for themselves. But on Palm Sunday, veiled underneath the glorious chants of victory, allegiance, and power, Jesus was making yet…another declaration.

Jesus Christ – the Lord of Lords, King of Kings, the Morning Star, the Savior of all Humanity, and we can list descriptives after descriptives – rides into a procession of “Hosanna, Hosanna…Hosanna in the Highest” – on a donkey – aka – an ass.

Jesus rides in on an ass at his own Inauguration.  Goodness gracious.

My friend, Shane Claiborne, shares that a modern equivalent of such an incredulous image is of the most powerful person in our modern world – the United States President – riding into a procession…on a unicycle. He goes on to say that:

We’re just the asses Jesus rides on.

How true. How true.

It’s not about us. It’s not about our glory, our fame, our power, our buildings… We’re just the ass and we should be honored that God chooses to love us, save us, and that we have the joy of carrying the name and gospel of Christ to the world.

But let’s not forget, we’re not riding Jesus for our agenda. Actually, Jesus already has an agenda. And the agenda is twofold:

Salvation & Reconciliation

His agenda isn’t to just exclusively bless us. It’s really not. While he doesn’t mind blessing us…oh how he sees ‘blessing’ so differently than how we want to define blessing. His agenda isn’t to build our personal kingdoms. Jesus already has an agenda…

It’s true. Jesus’ “triumphant” entry into Jerusalem entry marks a dramatic turn downhill that actually takes him to the “lowest” place – hell itself.

The irony of it all is that Jesus’ final week is marked by

  • his entry into Jerusalem on an ass
  • washing the feet of his own disciples
  • and the Crucifixion

and for us, his followers…( if we’re honest)

those are the things we seek to avoid

While we as Christians (and Christian leaders) can get sucked into the cultural obsession with upward mobility and power, buildings, influence, private jets, wealth, mega conferences, lights, dry ice, and whatever else…

Let’s not forget:

He’s Jesus. He’s Lord. We’re not. We’re just the asses. It’s not about us.

All glory to Christ.

Filed under: christianity, church, Jesus, justice, leadership, ministry, , ,

15 Responses

  1. Matt Appling says:

    Look at who was in the crowd that day. The people who were so excited had lost interest by the end of the week. The Pharisees were already trying to kill Jesus. Even his disciples abandoned him. Given the choice, the best friend Jesus had that week was the ass!

  2. Fundie Fred says:

    I’m a fundamentalist and I’m offended by this post.

  3. teresa says:

    Amen to that! Puts it all in proper perspective.

  4. BNN says:

    I always heard that the kings of Israel always rode donkeys (asses), and that by doing this Jesus was declaring himself king…?

  5. thejourneywithnoend says:

    PRAISE GOD!!! I needed a good word and a good laugh!
    Laughter is GREAT medicine:)

    Blessings and Joy!

  6. Paula says:

    In this instance, I’m glad to be an ass.

  7. Nathan says:

    Great stuff, Eugene.

  8. Kayce says:

    Thanks for being honest and true to yourself. I really appreciate when pastors don’t sugarcoat but tell it how it is. I hate sugarcoat message because it doesn’t glorify Jesus at all. It also seems that we also don’t want to “offend” other people, but hey, I learn over the years that people are offended because they allow themselves to be. Sure, sometimes it is our fault and we should be more aware of our words, but it is a two way street.

  9. Ro says:

    Sweet. my sermon for tomorrow is complete. *print* *cite* :P

  10. Lisa says:

    Awesome blog… the ultimate deception, believing we’re something special after redemption.

  11. […] some may know, “Palm Sunday“ marks the beginning of Passion Week – the final week of Jesus’ life on earth. As we […]

  12. […] to Jerusalem” thing is a really bad idea. (I could at this point too easily resort to an “ass” joke, but I’ll spare […]

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Final sunset.

Aloha. Mahalo. Hana hou. Ohana.

Thank you, Kona, the Whitlocks, YWAM, sea turtles, Nemo, Restorers DTS, and Scandinavian Shaved Ice. Our three children.

One will be heading off to college in one year. The 2nd in three years. In six years, Minhee and I will be empty nesters. As a young parent, my prayers for them often surrounded their purpose in life. While I still ponder those things, there are three things that I most pray for:

1. That they may love Christ and obey Christ. Not just the idea but to actually follow Christ and thus, to love people.

2. To hold God's Word - the Holy Scriptures - dear and near to their hearts.

3. To love one another and be there for one another for life. To be loyal to one another. To protect one another. To never allow pettiness, conflicts, jealousy,  money, or whatever to get between them in the future. Ever. 
May it be so. Amen. Kona sunset. #nofilter

Perhaps from the outside...things look great but this has been one of the most challenging years of our life. The most painful has involved one of our kids who've had to endure through a lifelong chronic illness. This year, we've gone to the hospital 3-4 times/week trying to get her better. Ups and downs. Emotional roller coaster. Parents will understand this but nothing hurts more than a sick child...especially when you can't "fix" the situation. We were praying that our trip to Hawaii would be a balm for her soul...but it has been hard. Really hard. Lots of tears hard. But soaking in this sunset with our kids is something we don't want to take for granted.

We continue to pray and hope. Hope is not that God promises us perfection or everything we want but that in all situations...God is with us. Believing - while faltering - in this truth for our child. My Hawaiian Seattle Korean queen. #kona @minheejcho A family that hikes together stays together. #kona #pololuvalley Searching for Nemo. #kona #snorkeling #speechless

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