Trampled by a donkey

Yesterday was Palm Sunday.

We had a guest preacher at our church and he helped me understand, somewhat, one of the many mysteries of the Bible that has perplexed me for years.

“What changed between Sunday and Friday?”

Sunday is Palm Sunday, the day Jesus arrived in Jerusalem and was heralded as the coming King! A crowd of thousands of Jews, armed with palms, rushed out to meet him as he entered the city. The Jews believed him to be the one of whom Scripture foretold, the one to sweep in and squash their Roman occupiers.

Hosanna!

Here he comes! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

Finally, salvation from our state of oppression! Blessed is the King of Israel!

Hooray! Hooray!

How did Jesus — this anticipated liberator — arrive? On a white, fiery steed? With an army? A sword?

Nope.

He clippety-clopped in on a donkey!

With a band of riff-raff fishermen.

That’s it?

Is this a joke?

Five days later those same Jewish revelers shouted “CRUCIFY HIM!” — a refrain that ushered in the greatest act of love any of us could ever imagine.

Why?

Because he didn’t meet their expectations. He didn’t fit the mold they’d made for him.

Jesus didn’t come to liberate those Jews from their Roman captors. He came to liberate every man, woman, and child — all of us throughout history — from the captivity of our own sins.

Well, that type of thinking is just too broad, we say.

Doesn’t He know I hate my job?

Doesn’t He know my marriage is failing?

Doesn’t He care that my mom is sick?

Doesn’t He know the collectors keep calling?

Doesn’t He know that we can’t sell our house????

If you want to forgive my sins, that’s fine, Jesus. But sell my house first!

(When I start saying things like that, I imagine God says something like: “Ugh! What will it take to get through to that guy? Okay, young man, let’s try this again….”)

The preacher on Sunday reminded us that the things of God are so much more than the minutiae of our everyday lives. Yes, God, like any loving father, will take care of those things. But we really need to look beyond those things. As the preacher said, we need to lay those concerns down on the ground and let Jesus — our King and Savior, the Creator, the Master of the Universe — ride over them on his little donkey.

After Sunday’s sermon, I felt like I’d been trampled by that donkey. I’ve been so absorbed in the worries and anxieties of my life and I’ve often lost my focus on the things that are truly important. I have not been seeking God. He wasn’t meeting my very specific and selfish expectations, so I was shrugging him off.

Later, in our Life Group (a.k.a. Sunday School class), we read a convicting message from Colossians 3:1-3

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

Then, this morning, I listed to our friend Robin sing “The Promise,” a song with the lyrics:

I never said that I would give you silver or gold
Or that you would never feel the fire or shiver in the cold
But I did say you’d never walk thru this world alone
And I did say don’t make this world your home

I never said that fear wouldn’t find you in the night
Or that loneliness was something you’d never have to fight
But I did say I’d be right there by your side
And I did say I’ll always help you fight

‘Cause you know I made a promise that I intend to keep
My grace will be sufficient in your time of need
My love will be the anchor that you can hold on to
This is the promise, this is the promise I’ve made to you

God does not always meet our expectations, but he will always exceed our expectations.

We just need to keep seeking Him and everything else will fall into place. No matter what. That’s the promise.