Eugene Cho

our jesus riding to his own “inauguration” on an ass

jesus riding on a donkey

The image of Palm Sunday is one of the greatest ironies.  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.

I’ll be honest: I would have asked for a chariot or at least an Aston Martin.  But that’s just me.

But Jesus does this for a reason.  In fact, everything he does has a reason.  His whole life is a model of the Kingdom of God.  But if that is so, why are we as Christians so enamored with power?  Why are we – even as Christians – still so enamored, fighting, and jostling with who gets to the sit by Jesus at the table?

How do we continue our call to be Light and Salt; to love mercy, seek justice; to preach and live out the Gospel – all while modeling the very nature of Christ?

I enjoyed the reflections of another friend, Christine Sine (from Seattle) who as part of her Are You Ready for Easter reflections on Palm Sunday, shared the following thoughts:

Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem was obviously headed for a collision with the powerful Roman empire –  collision that would cost his life and change history forever.

The question for all of us as we approach this Palm Sunday is where is our allegiance.  The question for us on this morning is where do we find ourselves in these pictures?  Are we part of that ragamuffin discipleship band following Jesus fully aware that we are on a collision course with the values of our secular culture? Are we some of the misguided enthusiasts, cheering our own idea of a  messiah, that looks more like the Roman emperor than the humble Jesus?   Are we enamoured of an idea that has little to do with what Jesus has come to teach? Do we only want to follow a Jesus when we think he promises health and happiness here and now.  Have we so misunderstood him and his purpose and that we are ready to turn against him when he turns out not to be who we thought he was?

Perhaps however, we’re not part of Jesus’ procession at all.  Perhaps we’re standing at the other gate, cheering for the symbols of empire.  Dazzled by power, attracted to wealth, wanting to identify with the victors, not the vanquished, hoping to be counted as one of the elites of our time.

Actually most of us are probably part of both processions – wanting to follow this Jesus whom we find so don’t fully understand but also caught up in the excitement of Easter egg hunts and spring fashion displays

And the beauty is that Jesus, in his humanity, sees and knows all of us. . . the flawed humanity that surrounds him. . . the flawed humanity of each of us. . . and he sees it and he forgives it, and loves us, and gives his blessing to all of us as he clops along the dusty road toward his confrontation with power, his time of trial, his abandonment, his death.

Filed under: christianity, church, ,

9 Responses

  1. Peter Armstrong says:

    this post gives me a little more peace about the sermon i preached yesterday (i.e. the above is what i preached yesterday). the themes were met with mixed reviews. probably to be expected.

    Barbaro or “Donkey” from Shrek? Rome or Ragamuffin? Those are the central questions in Matthew’s Palm Sunday text.

  2. mike says:

    “Why are we as Christians so enamored with power?”

    I am on the same page with Richard Rohr when he teaches that Jesus is an icon of vulnerability. I think an important reason why Christians are so enamored with power is because Jesus is still held up essentially as an icon of power to most Christians. I know we are trying to redefine what power is when we call Jesus Lord, Most High, Savior, King, etc., when we build all kinds of fancy, rather powerful buildings in his honor, when we Catholics have the Pope ride around in a bullet-proof Mercedes, etc, etc. It gets to a point though where it is no longer redefining what and where power is and instead merely electing Jesus to be the recipient of the same power as before.

  3. Mario says:

    Pray for me that I become more like Christ.

  4. We do not need to define anything…EVERYTHING is defined in relation to the the person of Jesus Christ, even the workings of the universe. If we wish to know ANYTHING in any capacity, we find it only through him.

    And the first step is this, revealed to us from the mouth of the Glorious One himself:

    “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

  5. fergie says:

    The Honor was to the Ass… the Ass, misunderstood as surely as our Lord was to his Own People… even today. The Ass, a better protector of the young sheep than a sheepdog. The Ass, surefooted and steady on treacherous rock.

    NO tripping up on the way to the cross.

    So much beauty in that one little part of our Lord’s Passion…

  6. Bethany says:

    Sooo… Jesus was a democrat, or what? Am I just bringing this whole discussion down?

  7. […] Cho wrote a blog post back in 2009 about the irony of Palm Sunday: The image of Palm Sunday is one of the greatest […]

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One Day’s Wages

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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