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 […]

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"He must become greater; I must become less." - John 3:30 We have to remind ourselves of this truth every day lest we forget:

Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant.

Be faithful.

PS: Also, it helps to get some Vitamin D especially if you live in the rainy Northwest Thank you, Brooklyn, for the reminder. Umm, @jlin7 is a Christian but he wasn't very Christlike with me on the basketball court. He muscled me into the paint, dunked on me, mentioned my momma, and then said, "Stick with preaching." Just kidding. Kind of.

If you haven't heard, Jeremy Lin is donating his one games wages (approximately $140,000) and an additional $100 for every 3 pointer made to support Girls' Empowerment and Education through @onedayswages. That game is this Friday vs the Boston Celtics!

Join his campaign as he's inviting his fans to donate just $7. - http://onedayswages.org/jlin

Did you know that 32 million girls of lower secondary school age are not enrolled in school.

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#jeremylin #jlin #linsanity #onedayswages Don't be held captive to either praise or criticism.

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The answer to who you serve makes all the difference... It's the day after International Women's Day - and it's still important to celebrate the contribution of women in our lives, society, and world. As we honor women all around the world, I'm also reminded of how women and children are those who are most deeply impacted by injustice - especially poverty.

Sadly, I have witnessed this reality in too many places. ​In 2012, I traveled to a remote area in Eastern Kenya as part of a @onedayswages response to a famine that struck the Horn of Africa region. This famine impacted nearly 13 million people and according to some sources, took the lives of about 250,000 people. During my trip there, I had the chance of meeting many people but the person that still remains in my memory was a Muslim woman named Sahara.

She was so hospitable in inviting us to her small and temporary home. During our conversation, I learned that ​Sahara traveled 300 kilometers (a little under 200 miles) – some by cart and some by foot – as they sought to escape the worst drought that has impacted East Africa (Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia) in the past 60 years.

This is not a misprint.
200.

She traveled about 200 miles on cart and foot. ​And all along, she was ill. If you look closely ​at the photo, you might notice the large lump in her throat - likely a large cancerous tumor.​ She did not travel alone. She traveled with her husband who I was not able to meet because he was staying with one of his five other wives in this polygamist community.  She did not travel alone. She also traveled with her six children – the youngest being about 1 and the oldest being around 8. She had just given birth to her sixth child when they began her journey. Her youngest was severely malnourished when they arrived to this new settlement in a town called Benane. 
Sahara and her children all survived this journey. They survived because she persisted. 
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