Sermon on April 10 , 2022

KaB FKB, Andreas Latossek


Don’t be a donkey

( Matthäus 21, 1-11)

This sermon is translated from German into English. You can find the original video here


A horse and a donkey get into an argument about which of them should be rated higher. The horse is proud of its past.
However, the donkey is proud of his future and replies: “Technology will overtake the horse, but there will always be donkeys!”
You donkey, that’s the image we use for a stupid or stubborn person, but Donkeys are anything but stupid or stubborn.
Rather, their seeming stubbornness is an appraisal of dangerous situations. Instead of reacting like a horse with the instinct to flee, the donkey stops and weighs the situation.
With their well-developed sensory organs, donkeys perceive a potential enemy from afar.
With their lateral eyes, they have almost complete all-round vision and are very alert.
Donkeys are good-natured and sociable animals, selfless, and they can carry heavy loads.
Don’t be a donkey.
That’s what I called today’s sermon
We shall see later where it is good not to be an ass in a figurative sense and where it is quite good to be an ass.
The donkey is the central animal on Palm Sunday, which we celebrate today.
We have already seen the story as a video for the children, I will read the Bible text from Matthew 21:1-11 again:
1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. 6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. 10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? 11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
Jesus had been wandering the country for three years. He had done miracles and told people about God. He had told them that He would die and rise again to clear the way to God, but they hadn’t understood that yet. And now he was on his way to Jerusalem.
The incident we have read about takes place at the beginning of mankind’s most historic week. Crowds accompany Jesus. They expect that a new king will take power and finally break the rule of the Romans in their country. Not everyone in Jerusalem has met Jesus. But when asked who that is, the answer is sufficient: The prophet Jesus from Nazareth .
Word got around about his actions, they preceded him. Everyone knew about it. Significantly, they call him a prophet because the masses of people who were not as close to him as his disciples did not understand who Jesus really is: The Son of God.
  1. Don’t be a donkey – Jesus is coming again

He’s not just a prophet, he’s the son of God. People wave palm branches. These branches occur in two contexts in the Bible.
First, when the temple was built, King Solomon had palm trees and branches carved on the walls of the temple.
On the other hand, in the last book of Revelation we read, so to speak, of a renewed Palm Sunday:
 9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
Here it becomes clear who Jesus really is. He is the king of kings, possessing all power and strength, wisdom and glory. To whom one day all will bow and honor him.
He is God Himself.
In Revelation the image is used, which is also here, of the lion of Judah . God almighty and of the lamb a defenseless beast, a type of Jesus who let himself be slaughtered like a lamb on the cross.
But while the full power of God is visible in Revelation, Jesus comes humbly riding a donkey to Jerusalem. Salvation and salvation come from him, we read in Revelation.
He brings salvation. This is also in the prophecy that Matthew quotes from Zechariah. A centuries-old prophecy that will be fulfilled when Jesus enters Jerusalem. But Matthew quotes only a portion.
Her name is:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
Here, too, it is said that he brings salvation.
On Good Friday Jesus will die on the cross for the guilt of all mankind, including yours and mine. And on Easter Sunday at the latest, it becomes clear that God accepts what Jesus did and said by raising him from the dead.
Jesus conquered death.
He brings eternal salvation to all who entrust themselves to him and claim that Jesus also died for their guilt.
Now, at the latest, people can recognize that Jesus is not only a prophet but the Son of God, as he repeatedly said and testified through his miracles.
And then you have to make a decision. If that’s really true, you can’t avoid it. You have to decide: Do I want to believe that and do I want to entrust myself to this Jesus or not.
The donkey is a symbol of the peace that Jesus wants to give you. He came to make this reconciliation with God possible. But we read in Revelation that there will come a day when Jesus will come again:
Then the sky opened before my eyes and I saw a white horse. The one who sat on it means: “the faithful and truthful one”. It is the just judge who fights for justice! Revelation 19:11
This time Jesus will not come as a lamb but as a lion. He will not ride a donkey but a horse, a symbol of power and war. He will bring justice that we long for.
And he will judge and the Bible makes it clear that no man, that we cannot stand before him, because we are not all perfect as God is.
We talk a lot about peace in Ukraine these days, but peace in our smallest circle, to start with, we can’t even do that.
Don’t be a donkey – Jesus is coming again
It is better to acknowledge him as king now and to confide in him when he rides a donkey than to hide later when he comes as judge in power and glory.
Which brings me to my second point, more specifically to a question:
  1. Don’t be a donkey – who or what is riding on you

Before anyone can ride a donkey, there must first be space. So if this donkey is full of heavy boxes, they have to be unloaded first. Before Jesus has a place in your life, something else has to come out that prevents him from developing.
Who or what rides you, who rides you, who or what determines your life?
Is it your career, your family, your money, your house and yard, your health, the most fun you want to have, have the most comfortable life possible, not make mistakes, get the approval of other people?
Who or what drives you? Or is it burdens that weigh you down?
Worries, fears , conflicts with other people, disappointment, frustration, anger, old wounds that still hurt, things that you hold grudges against others and cannot forgive?
We will take a closer look at all of this at Easter.
Jesus invites you:
“Come to me, all of you who are toiling and overwhelmed by your burdens ; I will take them from you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am kind and humble of heart. In this way you will find rest for your soul. Matthew 11:28-29
You can come to Jesus and take your burdens to him. He promised to take it from you. And at the same time he says that we should learn from him how life works. So don’t just lay down burdens, but let Jesus sit up. He is the Creator who knows how life works, what is best for you, who loves you.
So when we let him sit up and do what he tells us to do, we find stillness, inner peace, even when life is going crazy around us .
Everything else stands in the way of Jesus unfolding in your life and you experiencing the peace, joy, hope and fullness of life that he promised us in his word.
If we want to lay down burdens and then run after our own goals, then we will experience everything that Jesus wants to give us, maybe briefly, but not permanently.
Because you have experienced God’s mercy, I urge you, dear brothers and sisters, to be there for God with your whole life. Be a living sacrifice offered to God and pleasing to Him. Serving him in this way is the appropriate response to his love. Do not conform to this world, but change by allowing yourself to be completely realigned by God. Only then can you judge what God’s will is, what is good and perfect, and what pleases Him. Romans 12:1-2
And how does that happen?
By living in connection with Jesus, by talking to him and reading his word, by sharing with others how we can apply what God is saying to us in our lives and by encouraging one another in doing so, and by really take it seriously and take it more seriously than all the influences and advisers we have around us.
This is how God changes the way we think, speak, act, and even live our lives.
My children, our love must not be exhausted in words and fine speeches; it must be shown to be real and true through our actions. 1 John 3:8
Are we taking Jesus to the people around us, to our city? Do we show His love for them by loving them, and not just with fine speeches? Does Jesus live in us in such a way that he shines through us and is it important to us that we take him to people?
Don’t be a donkey – who or what is riding on you? And one last point:
  1. Don’t be a donkey – serve the king

At the beginning of the entry into Jerusalem, Jesus commissioned two of his disciples: Go get me a donkey.
A short time earlier, the two disciples James and John had been arguing about who was the greatest of them, and right before this incident on Palm Sunday, their mother came to Jesus, a really interesting family, and wanted Jesus to promise them that the two of them would be in heaven are allowed to sit on the right and left of Jesus, i.e. get the two best seats.
Jesus tells them:
You know: The rulers of the peoples, the big ones in the world, oppress their people and let them feel their power. It must be different for you! Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your servant. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:25-28
My guess is that Jesus now instructs these two disciples to fetch the donkey. They probably thought:
What a stupid job, fetching such a stupid donkey while the others are all with Jesus. That takes strength, we have to walk the hilly path, we sweat. Doesn’t Jesus have a more important job for us, something of importance, something where there is recognition?
They thought that this task was not important enough, perhaps beneath their dignity.
What they didn’t know is that this job was important, that they were helping to fulfill this ancient prophecy found in Zechariah 9:9 and thus pave the way for Jesus to go to Jerusalem.
Today the most important question is often: What do I get out of it? Or does it fit into my plan? Or is it too uncomfortable for me?
God invites you to become part of his plan.
He wants you to bring what He has entrusted to you in terms of money, possessions, time, relationships, strength, intelligence, your voice, gifts and abilities, experience, opening your house or apartment to others.
When he calls you, are you ready to hear and follow?
Every part fulfills its task and so the whole body grows towards Christ and builds itself up through love. Ephesians 4:16
We should do our part. Even if he seems small, inconspicuous, like fetching a donkey.
Whoever is faithful in the least is also faithful in the larger (Luke 16:10 ) says Jesus and in the parable of the entrusted talents he makes it clear that he will entrust more to those who deal responsibly with the small things.
We should do our part. Even if I don’t understand what God is up to. Even if I may not see the fruits and not be able to harvest them.
I recently read this book by Winrich Scheffbuch : World Mission Adventure – Beyond the Endless Seas.
It contains many stories about people who went into missions.
Often unimaginable for us today, under what effort, and sometimes also in the knowledge that certain death awaits them.
But God was worth it to them.
They heard his call and followed.
And again and again it happened that, as with Abraham, they only saw a small part of what God had promised come true, sometimes nothing at all.
But how after that, on the ground that she prepared, or through that one person who might have come to faith, church after church grew up and multitudes of people were saved for eternity.
Conversely, however, there are always stories, and it was just too long ago that I could no longer remember the specific people where later rulers, who persecuted Christians or brought a lot of evil into the world, made contact with Christians who repulsed her with her loveless nature , who had no time and were so self-absorbed that the chance was gone.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be firm and unshakable in your faith and always do your best for the cause of the Lord. You know the Lord will reward your efforts. 1 Corinthians 15:58
God wants us to give him the best, not the leftovers. It’s an attitude of the heart to do that. Because God gave his best, his son. And because Jesus gave his life.
He knew exactly what awaited him at the end of this Palm Sunday journey.
He could have got off the donkey at any time, but he didn’t, out of love for us, knowing that otherwise we would be lost.
Don’t be a donkey, because
Jesus is coming again.
Ask yourself:
Who or what is riding you
And then:
serve the king!