This sermon used a call-and-response method, which is totally uncomfortable for most Lutherans, so you should definitely listen to it by clicking here>
28After he had said this, [Jesus] went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
29When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ” 32So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34They said, “The Lord needs it.” 35Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 37As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38saying,
“Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!”
39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
Who Needs It?
Today we sing Hosanna
And later our shouts will be
Hold us in our indecision, Lord
So often we don’t know what to
Think of you
Or say to you
So lead us. Hold us.
No matter what we say.
The thing I identify most with in the Palm Sunday reading is that donkey. It probably is not shocking, but I’m as dumb as a donkey sometimes.
Like, the other day I was at the gym, and before I try any new weightlifting machines, I always do the walk-by. The scan. Because I’m never quite sure how to work them at first glance.
And so I grab some weights and put them on, a modest amount; doable. And I sit down and I push…and nothing. It doesn’t move. So, of course I wipe off my hands, because that’s always the problem…sweaty hands. I remove the little weights, but leave the big ones on, and sit down again. I push.
So, I figure, it must just be a really heavy bar. I go and remove all the weights, sit back down, and push…still nothing. And a guy walks by and says, “Uh, dude, you pull on that one…you don’t push.”
I’m no better than that donkey. Thoughtless animal. With a brain like that, who needs it, right? Can’t even figure out the weight machine…
But today the donkey gets center stage in the story, so it’s OK to be like the donkey on Palm Sunday.
Today is the day when we celebrate that Jesus participates in some petty theft.
Did you catch it? He sends the disciples into town to fetch a donkey, and should anyone ask why they’re taking it, they’re to say what?
Right. “The Lord needs it.” Which sounds totally ridiculous, right?
Imagine going into a 7-11, grabbing a Slurpee, and as you walk out when the clerk says, “Hey, where’re you going?!” You say, “The Lord needs it…”
Which they’d say, “Well, then tell the Lord they’ve got to pay for it!”
The Lord needs it. Who needs it? The Lord needs it.
You know, the scriptures are full of examples of where people look at something and say to themselves, “Who needs it?” Take Moses for example. God speaks to him through a burning bush, telling Moses to go confront Pharaoh and tell him to “Let my people go!” And Moses looks at his body, talks about his stutter, and says to himself, “Me? Who needs it? I can’t speak. I’m no leader. That kind of life? Who needs it?” He fancies himself not much better than a donkey. Who needs it?
The Lord needs it. And would use it.
So, Beloved, when you feel like you’re called to confront the Pharaohs of this world, to free people from the bondage of whatever system they’re caught up in, and you take a look at little old you, or little young you, depending on who it is, and you wonder, “Who needs this?”
The Lord needs it.
And if you think you’re too messed up to be any good, remember Moses’ brother Aaron. Aaron, who spoke for Moses. And Aaron, who when Moses went missing, was pressured by the people to build an idol, and to appease them he did. A golden calf.
And when Moses came down with the laws of God from mount Sinai, he found that they had already broken the first one, “You shall have no other gods before me!” And Moses was like, “You done messed up, A-a-ron!” an allusion that only some of you will get. And you would have thought that God was done with Aaron…but God still used Aaron. Aaron probably looked at his life and thought, “Who needs it?” He was no better than that donkey. Who needs it?
The Lord needs it.
This is why, Beloved, no matter how you’ve messed up, or how messed up you are, don’t ever think something good can’t come of you. We all make idols in this world, Beloved. We all mess up…
Or if someone maybe has told you that you can’t do or be something because you’re a woman, or a girl, I want you to remember Deborah from the book of Judges, who when no one else would take charge, heard God’s call upon her life to lead the army into battle. The world doesn’t need any damsels in distress; now is the time for warrior princesses. Or consider Mary who, young and fragile and scandalized by pregnancy, was chosen to carry Jesus into the world. Imagine her looking at her predicament and thinking, “Who needs this?” Who needs this?
The Lord needs it.
Don’t ever imagine that your gender or orientation or status holds you back from being useful, by God. Too many of our babies are growing up contemplating suicide, struck by addictions galore because they’ve heard overtly or subconsciously that they’re not good enough. Beauty products and body building and movie stars and test, tests, and more tests. God needs the brains you have, not the brains you think you need. God needs the hands, the feet, the body you have, not the ones you think you don’t have.
If you look in the mirror and think, “Who needs this?!” Remember your scripture, young theologian. Sure, I may be no better than a donkey, some might even call me that other name we call donkeys, and they might call you that, too. But as we hear in this story today, who needs it?!
The Lord needs it.
And let’s take a look inside for a second, friends. At your fickle heart. Because these people today shouting, “Hosanna!” and praising Jesus, they’re sentiments will soon turn and like every story of friendship, they’ll betray this one they’re praising, shouting, “Crucify him!” in a few days. And while some scholars think it might be a different crowd, if we look deep inside our hearts I think we’ll all recognize that our hearts are fickle, fickle things, prone to love one thing one day, and hate it the next. Am I right?
I mean, who needs a heart that can be so wishy-washy? We like to pretend we’re made of granite, that we’re true to our word all the time, that we’re unmoving. Even Pilate washed his hands of his wrong doing, like we try to do continually. But our hearts, if we’re honest, turn, and turn, and turn. Who needs a heart like this? Who needs it?
The Lord needs it.
And, as we’ll see in just a few days, God is willing to do anything, even die, for it.
Palm Sunday is a parade of fools, friends. Fools who are no better than that donkey that Jesus rode in on. And you and me, we just participated in that parade, which makes us no better than them, or that donkey. But if God can use Moses, and Aaron, and Deborah, and Mary, and yes, even that little old donkey, then perhaps, Beloved, it might just be true that God might use you and me.
And love us even to death.
So if you’re looking at your life right now, and wondering “who needs this?” Today you have your answer. Who needs it?
The Lord needs it. And will die before you think otherwise.