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* 😛

  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 […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

41 years ago today, our family immigrated to the United States from Seoul, South Korea. I was six years old; the youngest of three sons. My father, when he was also six, fled from what is now known as North Korea. Just recently, he shared with me that he and some of his family had been in a refugee camp when war and violence broke out on the Korean peninsula. It's emotional thinking about what my brothers and I went through coming to a completely foreign country. It wasn't easy. And then, I think about what my parents had to go through:

They fled their homes near Pyongyang which also meant leaving some of their extended families.

They experienced unfathomable hunger and poverty.

They experienced the pain of war.

They immigrated again to the United States as adults with minimal resources and a handful of English words.

All in hopes that their children would have the opportunities that were never afforded to them.

I'm thinking of my brothers today. I'm thinking of my parents and honoring them for their sacrifice and tenacity. And finally, I'm thinking of refugees and immigrants all around the world that are yearning for family, peace, hope, and opportunities. Don't reduce Martin Luther King Jr. to a yearly quote on social media. Live out the dream. Seek first the Kingdom of God. Confront evil. Be a truth-teller. Seek justice. Love mercy. Pursue reconciliation. Build bridges. Love your neighbors. Forgive your enemies. Pray unceasingly. Live a committed life of peace, love, and justice.

The God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today.

Be brave. "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here's the full context of his famous quote: "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that." An important word for the Church... Oh, how God loves the nations. The Scriptures make this so clear. No one - let alone, the leader of a country - should ever disparage other nations with such a disgusting comment.

To the beautiful people of Haiti, El Salvador, and of the many countries of Africa: We are so sorry. Please accept our apologies on behalf of President Trump.

I've had the privilege of being in Haiti twice and numerous countries in Africa including Kenya where I took this picture during an afternoon drive near Kijabe. In many of these visits, I witnessed such creativity, courage, leadership, hospitality and kindness. To follow Jesus without obedience, repentance, self-denial, and dying to self is an oxymoron. In other words, are we more in love with the idea of following Jesus than actually following Jesus?

Grateful for an incredible Sunday at @seattlequest of beginning our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting.

my tweets