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The story of a donkey

Matthew 21:1-9

Pastor David Ernst

First Sunday in Advent
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Dec 2, 2018 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We begin the Advent season with the story of a donkey. But it is not the story of Joseph and Mary's journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Because of much Christian art and music, we have the image of Mary sitting on a donkey led by Joseph standing.

Maria sits on a donkey

And the chaste José is an expert guide.

However, none of the evangelists speak of the way Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem. It's a nice thought to think of Maria sitting on the donkey, but it does not matter as far as biblical doctrine. What is more important is the fulfillment of the prophecies that said the Messiah will be born of a virgin in Bethlehem, the birthplace of King David.

In our text for today, the donkey is important. The donkey is at the center of the story. Why? Because the donkey is the fulfillment of a prophecy.

But, first, another question: Why do we read this story out of chronological order? This is not a story of Christmas, but of Palm Sunday, the first Sunday of Holy Week. Jesus entered Jerusalem the last time sitting on a donkey in the last week of His earthly life, not the first.

The answer is simple. Advent is a season of preparation to celebrate Christmas. We begin our reflections on the meaning of the Incarnation with the purpose for the entrance of Jesus Christ into our world as the Child of Bethlehem. This purpose was to suffer and die in our places on the cross. As all the prophecies of the Old Testament pointed to the coming of Christ, and the fulfillment of each pointed to the fulfillment of another, for us Christmas points to Holy Week and the death and resurrection of Christ.

"All this was done to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, who said: Say to the daughter of Zion: Behold your King comes to you, meek, and sitting on a donkey, and a colt the son of an animal of yoke."

This, the whole event, with all its unique incidents, was done in this way so that the words of the prophet, Zechariah 9: 9, could be fulfilled. The people recognized this sign.

"And the multitude, which was very numerous, spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the multitudes that went before and those behind were shouting, saying: Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the high!"

To throw their mantles and palms on the road was the way to greet a king. Also "Hosanna to the Son of David!" Did not mean only here comes a descendant of David, but the Descendant promised to David, that His kingdom would never end.

What else? "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest! "Where have we heard something similar? In the Christmas account of St. Luke: "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. "(Luke 2: 13-14)

This is the meaning of the donkey. In the ancient world, when the king went to war, he went out sitting on a horse, the beast of war. Because the horse is a big and strong animal, brave and fast. The horse has beauty in its strength. The donkey, on the contrary, has no beauty. He has strength, but he is not fast. He is calm and patient. Then, the king sitting on a donkey signified the king came in peace, on a mission of peace, to make a deal for peace.

Precisely in this way, Jesus came to Jerusalem during Holy Week. Not as a conqueror, not as a judge, but as a peacemaker. To restore a good relationship between God and men by the sacrifice of his own blood. In the same way, Jesus entered this world the first time in humility and meekness, not in glory and power, with the same purpose. Therefore, the angels proclaimed "Peace on earth."

This peace is like the world can not give us, because it is not only the absence of conflict, but it is the eternal peace inside our hearts, between all the trials and challenges of this world. We have this peace because of the promise of eternal life that we have in baptism, and therefore, this is the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen. sobrepasa todo entendimiento. Amén.

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