Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bethany Bullet - April 15, 2014

Get Off Your Donkey

Palm Sunday began at Bethany, a village a few miles outside of Jerusalem.  As the crowds were gathering for the most important feast of their church year, the sea of humanity splits and Jesus, atop a donkey, rides into Jerusalem as her King.

The Pharisees tell Him to dismount.  They say, in a way, “Get off Your Donkey” and quiet the crowd. “After all they are receiving you like a Royal. Worse yet, they are treating you as one who is Divine.”

The crowd has also appealed to Jesus, more or less, requesting that He, “Get off His Donkey” and teach the teachers a lesson, provide them the bread they’ve been wanting and kick out the Romans for good measure. 

Yet it is only One voice that Jesus will heed.  The Father who tells His Son to, “Get off His Donkey” and become Himself a lowly beast of burden.  So Jesus does dismount.  Not to claim throne but prepare a home…for His own.  Jesus bares the pride and injustice, the lust for power and arrogance at thinking one always knows best that so dominates humanity’s crowd.  The ones gathered at that Bethany and the ones who read this blurb from this Bethany.  Jesus came for the hard-hearted that are so quickly closed to the ways of God and the stiff-necked that so soon bristle at any “new” the Lord would do.

Jesus rides into our lives as King!  The King’s decree: “Get off your donkey!”  For we are so quick to get on our “high horse.”  “High horse” is a synonym for those desiring power and control.  When the term is used, it is to criticize folk for their haughtiness.  “The first riders of high horses didn’t see it that way; they were very ready to assume a proud and commanding position, indeed that was the very reason they had mounted the said horse in the first place.”  (John Wycliff) but Palm Sunday declares that being set apart as God’s holy people isn’t about.

While we are so quick to get on our high horses, Palm Sunday reminds us that being set apart as God’s holy people isn’t about being correct, but being right with God.  Jesus was and is King.  Jesus was and is Divine.  Yet proving He was correct wasn’t what the moment needed; rather providing us the means to be right with God is what and why His time was required! So Jesus “Got off His donkey.”

Ought not we, do the same?  The purpose of the church is not to be right!  But to be the means through which others become right with God!   Now, that doesn’t mean truth isn’t truth, that there are no matters that are black and white and that accuracy is unimportant!  But our calling isn’t to defend a position but to declare a Person.  One who is royal and divine at the same time and who rides into lives to bring mercy and eternity; to bring personal transformation and a personal relation with God Himself.

While we are so quick to get on our high horses, Palm Sunday reminds us that being set apart as God’s holy people isn’t about being elevated by others, but humbling yourself. Holiness isn’t about tooting your own horn but gladly wearing a thorn…crown that is.  Jesus let others toot the horn, the kids, the crowd, the rocks would have if need be.  But HE, He humbled Himself and got off His donkey.

Ought not we, do the same?  The purpose of the body is not to be lauded by others for who we are but to live for others because of whose we are. Sure it would be great to be known as the best church, the best author or preacher, or the member.  However, far more important that being settled firmly in place in an earthly kingdom, we are called to firmly setting our purpose in the Eternal Kingdom. 

Jesus did.  Palm Sunday could have been the climax to the Christ event.  Palm Sunday could have been the end.  Christ could have ridden atop that crest, took the throne and called it quits.  He would have had every right to do so and if He had it would have been the end for us.  It would have meant this is as close to heaven as we ever get.  It would have meant this is as close to holiness as we would come; a pilgrimage begun at Bethany to the One who lives in temples made of stone.  So Jesus “Got off His donkey.”

Ought not we, do the same?  We’ve not merely come close to Holiness; Holiness has drawn near to us. How near?  It flowed over you in Baptism, it fills your ears with the Words, and “for sake of one who got off his donkey and climbed onto your cross your sins are forgiven.”  It dwells in you through the Spirit of Holiness who lives in each of these temples of God reading these Words.

There is no denying that our natural desire is for a fiefdom, a principality, a throne and signet ring. Yet as new creations in Christ (declared Holy through faith) we are called to a holiness of life that sacrifices our little kingdoms that others might enter the Greater Kingdom – one from another place.  His calling won’t sound like the demands of the detractors around us, or the adoring applause of those beside or within us either for that matter.  Holiness of life that flows from the Holiness of faith will surely cost us power or prestige, control or comfort zones.  It bares others more than it cares for self, It seeks to give more than it seeks to gain, its priority is yielding authority to God not wielding authority over man.  The call of holiness of life proceeding from the holiness of faith is elegant and simple at the same time, to each declared Holy on account of Christ, to all who seek to follow in His holy way it starts as we, like HE who comes in the name of the Lord, Get off our donkey!

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer


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