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JL's Journal

April 03, 2012

“Go into the village…find a donkey and a colt…

bring them to Me…the Lord has need of them.”

Matt. 21:2-3)

Dear Friends & Partners,

This past week Christians around the world celebrated Palm Sunday.  It’s the beginning of Holy Week when we commemorate Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey amidst shouts of “Hosannas.”  It was Jesus’ last day of public popularity.  In just a few days the fickled crowds would become hostile and cry out for His blood!  The donkey would be traded for a cross.  By Friday, the burden-bearer would be Jesus.  The donkey would not be carrying Christ – Christ would be carrying the cross.  He would not be on a donkey’s back – but a cross would be on His back! 

But on this day there was much rejoicing because of Jesus’ humble Kingly presence.  And at the end of the day, the donkey had done its job.

In the prelude to this story, we are told that Jesus sent two of His disciples to bring the donkey.  We don’t know which of the disciples were on “donkey duty” that day!  Perhaps some even grumbled: “Lord, I don’t do donkeys!  Fishing is my background – not donkeys!  I didn’t follow you to manage donkeys!  Donkey discipleship is not my calling!”  But in spite of possible protest, two disciples were ultimately dispatched for this unglamorous “donkey duty”! 

Anticipating their concerns about absconding a donkey from a total stranger’s house, Jesus gave them very specific instructions:

“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.  If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”   (Matt.21:2-3)

So by faith, those two disciples did what Jesus told them to doTheirs was not to understand but to obey.  Once again we see the “principle of partnership” at work in this event.  On Palm Sunday, Jesus engaged two of His unnamed disciples and He involved an unknown donkey owner to accomplish His purposes.  If there was any question on the part of the owner as to why his donkey and colt were being taken, they were to simply to say: “The Lord needs them.”   That declaration rendered any further discussion or disagreement a moot issue.

Jesus assured them that if they made that declaration to the owner of the donkey “…he would send them right away.”  There would be no further hesitation.  The donkey and colt would be immediately released for Jesus’ use.  And so it was.

Again, neither the two disciples nor the donkey owner understood why Jesus needed the donkey?   They were clueless.  Like them, we are often in the dark when Jesus asks us to do something by faith – especially when it does not seem to make sense!  What could a donkey possibly have to do with the will of God?!  However, Jesus was crystal clear in why He needed that donkey and colt.  He needed them to fulfill the ancient prophecy about that day which said:

“See, your King comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9; Matt. 21:5).

For Jesus to walk into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday like the disciples did would have been a violation of prophecy.  It would have proven the Scriptures to be untrue and untrustworthy.  A donkey was required that day – and a very specific one at that.  It had to be “…a donkey and its colt.”  Thus, two disciples, a donkey owner, a lowly donkey and her colt converged to fulfill prophecy that first Palm Sunday!  How amazing are the mysteries of God’s Will and Word!

Do you see a parallel here to your situation?  What is it in your sphere of ownership – or stewardship – that Jesus wants to use to fulfill His foreordained purposes?  Are you holding tightly to your resources as your security?  Just like the donkey was “tied up” in this story, are your assets so “tied up” by debt, fear, selfishness, greed – that you are unable or unwilling to release them to the Lord Jesus?

This donkey owner had a different spirit.  He released his donkey and colt and sent them to Jesus “…right away.”  He was immediate in his obedience.  Dare we do any less?

Through the years when new acquaintances ask me what I do, I often respond: “I’m a donkey for Jesus!”  Most look puzzled – waiting for a further explanation.  So I summarize the Palm Sunday story.  I tell them that my calling is that of the donkey on Palm Sunday.  I explain that in the Bible the donkey is a beast of burden and symbol of humility.  As a result, my calling in life is to simply take Jesus and His resources wherever He wants to go.  And in the process, I am to always remember that it is not about the donkeyit’s all about Jesus! 

On that first Palm Sunday, all of the cloaks strewn on the road…the waving of palm branches…the shouts of “Hosanna” were not for the donkey!   They were for Jesus.  People were not admiring the donkey.  How foolish it would have been for the donkey to think, “Wow, look how important I am!  Listen to how these people are praising me!”  No.  He wasn’t the focal point of people’s attention and admiration.  He was simply an instrument that Jesus needed to accomplish His goal.  That’s to be our highest purpose in life also.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Palm Sunday reminds us afresh that life is not about us – it’s about Him!  Christian ministry is not about the minister – it’s about Jesus!  Church is not about the members – it’s about the Master!          It’s not about the saints – it’s about the Savior!  Christian leadership is not about our glory – it’s about the good of others.  The Christian life is never about the donkey – it’s always…always…all about Jesus!

No doubt there were hundreds ofother donkeys in Jerusalem that Sunday.  They were the trucks and taxis of the day carrying people and cargo all over the city.   Obviously then, the only thing that distinguished that particular donkey on Palm Sunday from the hundreds of others in the city was Who he was carrying.  Without Jesus on His back, he was just another donkey.  But with Jesus on his back, that donkey had direction and distinction.

So it has been my joy for over 4 decades to be a simple “donkey for Jesus.”    To be sensitive to His voice.  To be available to His bidding.  To be obedient when He says to me: “J.L., I need you to take My love and compassion to some of My needy children.”

And like the two disciples in the story, I have to be willing to step out on faith.  I have to sometimes do things I do not fully understand.  I have to go on missions that have not been clearly defined yet.  I have to boldly ask people to release their resources for the Master’s use.  I have to lovingly challenge them to “untie” and release some of their assets because “…the Lord needs them.”

And then, as they give by faith, I have the joy of transporting those resources to meet the physical and spiritual needs of others – just like Patt and I had the privilege of doing recently in Nepal and India.

When Jesus and His resources come – whether on a donkey or airplane – there are always shouts of praise!  There is always thanksgiving!  That’s why Paul encouraged the saints who gave through him with these words of assurance:

“The service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the Gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else” (II Cor. 9:12-13).

So thanks for “loading our donkey” with needed supplies that we were able to deploy on this past trip to Asia.  Be blessed by the slideshow pictures.  And know that you have brought glory to God and praise and thanksgiving to His people!

But right now, our donkey depot is almost totally empty!  So we pray that many of you reading this email will make a special “Easter Offering” to replenish our dwindling financial supplies so we can continue to share His practical love and compassion to others in need – wherever He deploys us.

Just a donkey for Jesus!

JL

PS:  I will be leaving for an “Easter Crusade” in Haiti this weekend – so I do covet your prayers.  And as always, I will go in with my donkey loaded – or overloaded (according to the airlines!) – with supplies to meet needs in His Name!

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