Matthew 21:1-11 (Part 1) – Are You An Anything for Jesus Kind of Believer?: Giving our Donkeys & Colts To Jesus

Posted: February 21, 2016 in 40-Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 21:1-11 (Part 1)

Jesus Rides into Jerusalem on a Donkey

 

Today, we will be begin a multiple blog look at Matthew 21:1-11. This passage is an important one and we take time to chew on it a few days. There are several things that are important to note in this passage. First, today, we will take about the way Jesus obtained the colt on which He was to ride. Next time, we will look at the way Jesus entered to Jerusalem and what it says about the kind of King He was claiming to be. After that, we will look at the superficiality of the praise being offered unto Jesus.

 

The illustration that comes to mind this morning is that of one of my favorite movies, Selena. In the movie, in the early years of Selena and her band made up of mostly her family members, they toured the Southwestern US in a rickety old, former Greyhound or Trailways bus. On this particular day, the bus gets stuck in the sand on the side of the road in the desert. When Selena uses her good looks and charm to get these two Mexican dudes to stop. They are discuss what the problem is and they Mexican guys realize that they are in the presence of their favorite regional pop star (Selena was big with the Latino community long before her short-lived time as a nationally known pop artist). So they try to figure out how they can help her and the band. They offer to try to pull out the big ol’ bus with their suped-up, pimped out, convertible Chevrolet Impala (from the early 70s). No one believes that no matter how big the engine in the Impala has, it is not going to pull out the big bus from being stuck in the sand. But the guys both say, “Anything for Selenas!” They rip the rear bumper off the Impala as they try to floor the petal on the Impala. The guys in the band are so upset because they have hurt the car of their fans but these guys are so happy to have even tried to help Selena that they just throw the bumper in the backseat and say they are going to put the bumper up in their garage and put a label under it that says, “This bumper was ripped off our car by the bus of Selenas!” Later, after they had made arrangements with their dad to hire and bring a tow-truck with him to get the bus out of the sand, the brother and sisters of Selena were telling their dad about how freaked out these guys were about seeing Selena and that it meant she was becoming a star. Then the whole bus starts giving Selena hard time about her budding stardom, by all them repeating what they Mexican dudes had said, “Anything for Selenas” to the point Selena starts throwing pillows at whoever says it next! Great scene. Loved it. They kind of reminds of what we see here in this passage about how Jesus came to be in possession of the colt. Let’s read the passage, Matthew 21:1-11, with particular attention to vv. 1-3:

 

 

21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

 

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

 

5 “Say to Daughter Zion,

   ‘See, your king comes to you,

gentle and riding on a donkey,

   and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”[a]

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

 

“Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c]

“Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

 

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

 

 

The thing that we have advantage of here after 2,000 years of Christianity is that we know that Jesus was who He claimed to be and who we believe Him to be. Therefore, we often gloss over the first three verses of this passage. Sure, now, virtually everybody in the world has heard of Jesus Christ but let us drift back in time to the first century in Palestine. There was a greater faith required to be a disciple of Jesus at this time, don’t you think? Jesus had not yet been crucified and had not yet risen from the dead. Yet, we see in these first three verses that there is a man of faith who is not one of the direct disciples of Jesus, not one of the twelve. But he must have heard of Jesus before. He must have known who Jesus was. He must have known of the disciples as well. He must’ve known this Jesus band that had been working its way from Galilee to Jerusalem. They had been on tour for a while now. This guy that owned the colt and the donkey must have seen and heard Jesus preach possibly. He must have seen and heard about the miracles. He must have had such high regard for Jesus, such respect for Jesus, and maybe he was a disciple (as a result of Jesus’ preaching and teaching elsewhere) that He was willing to give His possessions to Jesus because the Lord said He needed them. Maybe, this owner of the animals in Bethpage was kind of like the Mexican dudes in the movie, Selena, and said, “Anything for Jesus, Anything for Jesus!” Maybe, just maybe, this guy recognized the Messiahship of Jesus. Maybe, just maybe, we should be like this man.

 

In the eyes of this unnamed follower or fan of Jesus, nothing was too prized not to give away to the Lord. Donkeys were important in first century Palestine. They were valuable animals for farming and for transportation of goods. So, it was not like these animals were just throw-away to the owner. They were important to him and whatever he may have done for living. It would be like giving your pick-up truck away today. That is the amazing thing here is that just because the Lord needed it and sent his men to get it, this owner gave it to them right away without question to Jesus. Remember, this guy does not have 2,000 years of history on his side as we do. He trusted that Jesus was the Messiah. He trusted that enough to give Jesus sovereignty over His possessions. He did not even see Jesus directly. He was dealing with Jesus’ disciples, the agents of Jesus in this situation. Under royal customs of the day, the king had rights to all possessions of the people he ruled. This custom continued right up through the Renaissance era. It was a long-held and accepted custom that the king could demand and receive any property from his citizens because the theory was that the property was the king’s to begin with. He just allowed his citizens to hold his property in trust until he needed it. Jesus is exercising his heavenly royal authority and asking for the property for His use. The owner, apparently having faith, that Jesus was the heavenly King, the Son of David, the Son of God, the Messiah, that he readily gave his property to Jesus. He gave it without regret or begrudging nature. Bam, Jesus ask for it. Bam, he gave it. He probably considered it a privilege to have his animals used by Jesus. Anything for Jesus, Anything for Jesus, he might have said. There’s no questioning that the owner willingly gave his property to the disciples of Jesus. There was no verbiage in this passage about some negotiation or some trouble that the disciples had in obtaining the donkey and the colt. It was asked for and it was given. No convincing was needed. No begrudging gift. Joyful response to the needs of Jesus’ ministry. Anything for Jesus this man may have said. Anything for Jesus.

That brings up the question to us in the 21st century. We have 20 centuries of knowledge of who Jesus is. Many of us firmly believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. We know why He was crucified. We know that He gave us victory through His resurrection. We have a far greater advantage over this owner of the donkey and the colt because we have history at our side. We know all these things. He had to have faith that all these things were true. We know these things for facts. But yet the man who owned the donkey and the colt has far greater faith in Jesus than many of us do, than many of his modern day followers. This guy had real faith that Jesus was the Messiah, the King of All Eternity and willing gave his workhorse possessions to Jesus for His ministry. Why is it that with all of our advantages of history and knowing who Jesus is that we do not have the same attitude toward the relationship of our property to our King Jesus that this man had 2,000 years ago? Why do we not have an “Anything for Jesus” attitude toward our possessions and their relationship to King Jesus?

 

God gives us our talents. God gives us the ability to make money. God gives us the ability to gather wealth ever how big or small by earthly standards that it might be. All of it comes from Him. Jesus is the church. Jesus is the King. It all comes from Him. We are just the agents in trust for the things that have been given to us by God. In return, He asks that we cheerfully and readily give back to Him. It is His to begin with. It is his right as King. Yet, we act like rebellious subjects and think that it is all because of us that we have what we have and that God has nothing to do with it. We begrudgingly give the extra $20 in our wallet on Sunday. We think the preacher has it easy and we are not going to support his lifestyle. We think the church has all the money in the world to do its work. We think that others who are more involved with the church will give in our place. We have got it all wrong. Giving back to Jesus cheerfully and willingly reflects a proper attitude of praise. Giving as commanded in God’s Word is an act of worship to the one true King. We should be figuring out how to live our lives where we are not living beyond our means. We should be living our lives to avoid fixed debts that are beyond our ability to pay and that choke the life out of our spirit. We should be living our lives in a way that allows us to give joyfully and willingly to the Lord. We should be living lives where if God calls us to action that we are not so shackled by debt that we cannot put our yes on the table for the Lord. We should live our lives in such a way that we can freely respond to the needs of ministry. We should be living our lives in a way that we looks for ways to serve Jesus with our money and possessions. There is joy in living well below our means. It means that we can help our church. It means that we can help our neighbors. It means that we can love on others in real and tangible ways. Could you give your property away to someone who needs it worse than you right now or all your assets mortgaged to the hilt because you bought them before you could afford them. Lord, give us a right mind about these things. Let us be a people that are different than the culture around us. Let us be a people that can give without question, without reservation, without a begrudging thought. Let us be first century believers who made sure that each other had what was needed to live. They gave willingly and freely to one another, the church. Possessions were seen as coming from God and it is our duty to give back to Him our King by not hoarding our possessions, not buying things we really don’t need, not mortgaging our ability to serve God away. Let us be the people that breaks the cultural mode in which we live. Let us be the people that knows the joy of financial freedom and as such can give freely to the needs of the church and the needs of the world around us. What if just my church lived that way? What if we all tithed at my church. Say the average salary for a member of my church is in the neighborhood for $50,000 per year. Say that everyone who attends our church regularly gave 10% of their gross to the church. Say we have 350 family units in our church (I say family units because we have married couples with families but we also have single folks who by themselves make up a family unit). That would work to $1.75 Million in giving. What our church could do for the Lord if that were the case. But we are not there as a people because we live beyond our means. We learned as children to live beyond our means. We continue it as adults. We want. We want things. And things and things. May we become a people that can give our donkeys and colts to Jesus without question. May we be a people that joyfully gives and not begrudgingly and guiltily give. May we give to the King because we have not usurped His power to command our assets for His needs. May we be a people that stands at the ready to give Jesus our donkey and colt.

 

May we be an “Anything for Jesus” people just as the Mexican dudes were willing to do anything for Selenas! May we be an “Anything for Jesus” people like the owner of the donkey and the colt. Amen and Amen.

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