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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One Day’s Wages

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Made it to 47 years old. Grateful for God's grace and all those who believed in me, prayed for me, encouraged me, invested in me, forgave me, fed me, loved me, and _____ me.

I've come a long way since my first school picture  at the age of 6 - the age I immigrated to the United States. And long way to go. You can do it, sun. Break through the clouds. I love her. Saturday morning date at Pike Market with @minheejcho. Enjoying the final day of sun before 6 months of rain and gray. Not lol'ing. Some of my moat memorable travels have been to Myanmar (otherwise known as Burma). In fact, the vision of @onedayswages began on my first visit to this country in 2006. On a recent visit, I began learning about the Rohingya people. Sadly, it has escalated to horrendous, genocidal proportions.

Thus far, about 500,000 people have been driven out from Myanmar through violence...with most going to Bangledesh...regulated to a massive refugee camp. Stateless. Undocumented. Minority groups. Dehumanized. Homes and villages destroyed. And so much more unspeakable atrocities.

Yes, it's complex and messy. It always is. But the root of this injustice as the case for so much brokeness in the world is the sin of dehumanizing one anotber as..."the other." May we see each person, including the Rohingya people, as one who is created in the image of God. It's the truth and the remedy to the incessant dehumanization that goes on in our world.

Lord, in your mercy. The obedience of discipleship which includes the work of justice is a marathon. It's long, arduous, and emotional. Be tenacious. But also take care of yourself. Create healthy rhythms. Don't burn out. We need you for the marathon. Friends, don't give up. Press on. In the midst of so much chaos in the world, may we continue to cling to the hope of the whole Gospel. May we cling unto Jesus:

Way maker!
Miracle worker!
Promise keeper!
Light in the darkness!
That is who You are!

What an encounter with the Holy Spirit at @seattlequest today. Grateful for our worship team, the gospel choir, and the Audio/Visual team. Thank you Matt, Teresita, and Chris. Please thank all the volunteers for us.

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