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Giving a Donkey

Giving a Donkey Mark 14:3-9 Matthew 21:1-11

I can’t speak for you... but when it comes to me… when I get to heaven... there’s someone I’d really like to meet. You go ahead and swap stories with Mary or talk doctrine with Paul. Go ahead and find Abraham, Moses, and Noah. I’m sure someone here is going to find Lydia or Peter, or even Luke.  Of course, I don’t want you to worry… I’ll catch up with you soon enough. But first, right after I see Jesus, I want to meet the guy with the donkey and the colt. 

I cannot tell you his name, and I can’t describe what he looks like. In fact, there’s only one thing that I know about him at all… and that’s what he gave. He gave his donkey and her colt to Jesus on the Sunday Christ entered Jerusalem.

And what an entry it must’ve been!  Can you imagine? A huge crowd of towns folk from Jerusalem lining the streets shouting, “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Of course, what they were really shouting... what they were really crying out was, “Save us, save us Son of David, save us!”

Yeah, when we all get to heaven, I want to visit with the man who gave Jesus his animals.  Because I have so many questions that I’d like to ask him. Questions like…

How did you know?  How did you know it was Jesus who needed a donkey?  Did you have a vision?  Did you get a text or email?  Was it ESP?  Did an angel appear before you in some mysterious vision or dream?

I want to ask him if it was difficult for him to give up his Colt for Jesus. Surely it was hard to give up something that was so valuable.  After all, a donkey in Jesus’ day was like a car… a BMW or Mercedes… Or in my case a KIA Rio. 

I wanna know because sometimes it’s hard for me to give up things for Jesus. Sometimes I like to keep my animals to myself, don’t you? And sometimes when God wants something from me I’ll pretend that I don’t know he needs it… or I act like I have no idea that he really wants it.

I can’t help but wonder how it must’ve felt for this man. How it must’ve felt when he looked out and saw Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, riding on the back of his donkey! I wonder if he was proud, or surprised or maybe even a little annoyed. After all why did Jesus need his animals? Why didn’t Jesus use some other man’s donkey instead?

But then... I wonder if he even knew… I wonder if he had a clue whatsoever that it was the Messiah who needed his animal. I wonder if he had any inkling that his generosity would be used for such a noble such and honorable purpose? I wonder if it ever occurred to him that God was riding on his donkey. Was he even remotely aware that all four Gospel writers would tell his story? Did it ever cross his mind that a couple of thousand years later a curious preacher from West Point, Georgia, would be pondering his story, too?

Of course, as I ponder his story, I can’t help but ponder my own. Sometimes I get the impression that God wants me to give him something, maybe it’s my money, or my time, my talent. But still, I don’t give it because I don’t know for sure… I haven’t seen a sign or heard a voice or experienced a vision. Other times I know full well what he wants, but I just don’t give it. Because I’m too selfish, I want to keep what I have for myself - and I feel guilty because I’ve missed my chance… I’ve missed my opportunity to serve God. 

Then, of course, there are those times, far too few times I’m afraid… when I hear God’s voice, and I obey, and I feel honored that a gift of mine could somehow be used to carry Jesus into another place. And still other times I wonder if my little deeds today will make any difference at all.

I don’t know but maybe you have questions like these, too. I do know, however, that all of us have a donkey! You and I all have something in our lives, which if given back to God, could, like the donkey, move Jesus and his story further down the road.  Who knows? Maybe you can sing, or hug, or teach, or write a check. I don’t know… but… I do know…

Whatever it is, that’s your donkey, and… Whatever it is, your donkey belongs to Jesus.    

And it really does belong to him, doesn’t it? All of our gifts and graces are already his, just as the donkey was already his to begin with. In fact, the original wording of Jesus instructions to his disciples is proof: he said if anyone asks why you are taking the donkey (and her colt), say, “the Lord needs them...”  The Lord needs them.

The very language Jesus used as the language of a royal Levy.  Today we’d call it the “Right of Eminent Domain” I suppose.  It was an ancient law that required a Citizen the “hand over” to the king any item or service he or one of his emissary’s might request. So by making this statement (by saying, “It’s Lord is in need”), Jesus was claiming to be King!  He was speaking as one in authority. He was stating that as King, he had the right to any possession of his subjects.

Who knows, it could be that God wants to ride your donkey.  It could be that Jesus wants to enter the walls of another city, another nation, another heart, while using your gifting, your grace, your talent, your possession. The question for you and me today is, “will we?”  Will we let Jesus have our Colt? Will you give up your donkey, will I give up my donkey... for Christ?  Or will we hesitate, or worse, will we reject Jesus altogether?

You know, the Bible tells us that God loves a cheerful giver.  But, honestly, I think it really goes further than that don’t you?  Because I think God loves an extravagant giver!

Just look at the temple in Jerusalem. There was nothing cheap or standard, not a single thing plain ordinary about it. It was made of marble and gold in the finest materials available... it was first class all the way. An extravagant place of worship built to honor and show respect to an extravagant God.

And in the new Jerusalem, described in the book of Revelation… we’re told of streets paved with gold, walls laced with every precious stone known to humanity. It’s gonna be a little extravagant, don’t you think? And there’s certainly no doubt that the early church understood the meaning of extravagant giving. In Europe they were not content to build simple sanctuaries or cookie-cutter box churches… They built towering cathedrals!  Great places of worship, where when you walk in you immediately feel a sense of awe and reverence and the love that provoked such extravagant and opulent places of worship!

And what about the cross? Wasn’t that extravagant giving? God the Father sent his one and only Son to suffer, to bleed, to die, for you and for me. Yeah, I think his gift was the most extravagant of all.

You know, the fact is, that guy who gave his donkey to Jesus is just one in a long line of people who gave little things to a big God. In fact, the Bible contains quite a collection of donkey givers.

We find in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John, the story of Mary, the sister of Lazarus. She was just a plain, simple, ordinary woman, who loved her Lord and Savior so much that she recklessly, extravagantly, unexpectedly, poured on Jesus head and feet the most expensive perfume she owned.  It was worth a whole year’s wages!  And she did it for no other reason, than because she loved him. But then, she was only one of many…

Just flip through the pages of the Bible and you’ll see all kinds of gifts that were given to God by the people who loved him. There’s Rahab’s rope, Paul’s basket, David sling, and Samson’s jawbone. You’ll also find the staff that split the Red Sea and smote the rock. You can rest your head on the same cloak that gave comfort to Christ in the boat as he slept... and you can run your hand long the smooth wood of the manger... or you can set your shoulder beneath the heavy weight of the Cross. 

I sincerely doubt that will see any of these things in heaven, but I know one thing for sure. The people who used these things, and the people who gave these things, will certainly be there!  

The fact is you and I can never out give Jesus.  He entered Jerusalem in triumph as palm branches and robes lined the street. But soon the shouts of “hosanna”, the shouts of “save us son of David” - became - “crucify him”… “Give us Barabbas”… “Crucify him.”

What is it, what do you and I have that we need to give to Jesus? Is there anything too good, is there anything too valuable, to offer the King of kings and Lord of lords? Is there anything in your life that’s too precious to offer to Jesus? He gave everything he had for us. Shouldn’t you and I be willing to give everything we have for him?

(This message was built around a Holy Week devotional by Max Lucado I read several years ago.)

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