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April 3, 2012

Donkey in field of blue bells
A donkey in a field of blue bells

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"The One Called Faithful And True!"
A Lesson From A Donkey

“Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt” (John 12:14-15).
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True” (Revelation 19:11).

For many years we passed a donkey on Colebrook Road on our way home from Elizabethtown. Just before we'd reach the bend in the road I'd look in the rearview mirror, anticipating my mother leaning forward in her seat, moving her gaze toward the window, and carefully perusing the approaching pastureland for a view of the neighborhood donkey. She'd get such a kick out of seeing it every time. Upon spotting the donkey, for some silly reason, we'd usually roll down the car window and collectively call out "Hee Haw" making a poor imitation of the donkey's bray. However, a few years ago, the family took down the fencing and got rid of the donkey (or perhaps it passed away.)

I suppose in the animal world the donkey would not be considered one of the more dignified animals. It’s smaller than most horses and is not typically used for riding or work, at least not nearly to the extent a horse  or its cousin the mule, which is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse.

Donkeys are referenced throughout the Bible with perhaps the most famous being Baalam’s talking donkey! However the donkey in our daily text had an important role during the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, being a part of the
fulfillment of a Messianic prophecy.

Palm Sunday Jesus riding a donkeyThe various gospel accounts provided varying detail but in John’s record we merely read, “Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it.” This was a fulfillment of prophecy spoken of in Zechariah 9:9, "See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."

How precisely this prophecy came to pass. Note the characteristics about Christ. “Your king coming to you, righteous, having salvation, gentle.” The righteous One who would pay the price for our salvation did not come into Jerusalem on a powerful horse, in glory and honor; He came in gentleness and humility, on a lowly donkey.

Jesus on a white horseBut, Revelation 19 gives us another image of the coming King. Here, He does come in power and glory and we see Him on a white horse. So, there is a very different image here. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True.”

1) He is called "Faithful". This translates the very common Greek word "pistos", which objectively has the meaning of trustworthiness and reliability. This is one of the great attributes of God found throughout the Scriptures. Believers can join with Jeremiah in declaring, "Great is Thy faithfulness!"

2) He is called "True". This word denotes real and genuine. It places Him in contrast to the antichrist who is also depicted on a white horse earlier in Revelation 6:2. While on earth Jesus told His disciples, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).

We close with a powerful thought from Warren Wiersbe: "This description of Christ is thrilling! He is no longer on a humble donkey, but on a fiery white charger. His eyes are not filled with tears as when He beheld Jerusalem; nor is He wearing a mocking crown of thorns. Instead of being stripped by His enemies, He wears a garment dipped in blood, signifying judgment and victory. When on earth, He was abandoned by His followers; but here the armies of heaven follow Him in conquest. He comes to rule with a rod of iron (Psalm 2). He comes not to bear the wrath of God on the cross, but to tread the winepress of God's wrath at the Battle of Armageddon. He is King of kings and Lord of lords!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying womanDaily Prayer: Father, our journey on earth is to be marked by gentleness and humility. There is no example greater than Jesus who left the glory and splendor of heaven to reside among sinful humankind. Though He was King of kings and Lord of lords He walked the lowly path of humility and laid aside His crown for a pauper's life.  He did not assume His rightful place but humbly rode on the back of a donkey's colt. We're so thankful that Jesus didn't leave us before His mission was accomplished when the jubilant crowd turned into a jeering mob only days later.  We long for the soon coming day when our faithful and true Savior who once rode on a donkey's colt will appear in the heavens riding on a white charger leading the army of saints into their home eternal. What a day, glorious day, that will be!  Amen.

We appreciate the response to our little quiz yesterday inquiring what plants (such as the palm tree yesterday) and animals (such as the donkey today) are a part of the Holy Week narrative in the Scriptures. Actually readers suggested some I had not even considered! We will consider three more the remainder of the week.

Additional study note:
In studying today's text I was struck by the verse that immediately follows. "These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him” (John 12:16). This seems to be speaking of the entire events of the Triumphal entry and even more generally Holy Week, not just the donkey. I think there is a lesson here for us when it comes to things that seem mysterious or confusing to us but we accept by faith. Some things we just don't understand when they happen but we will at a future time either here on earth or in heaven.

Maple syrup on pancakes
This morning we had buttermilk pancakes with butter,
fresh maple syrup, and sausage links.
Yum, Yum!

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

"My Redeemer Is Faithful and True"
 Video  A very young Steven Curtis Chapman with very long hair at a Billy Graham Crusade!

"Faithful And True"  Video  Marc Taylor & Jennine Henderson

"Behold He Comes"  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

"It Is Finished"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

(We will leave the following materials up throughout the week.)

“It's Still The Cross!”

(A selection of Scripture verses focusing on the Cross for personal, family or congregational reading.)

Pastor: Here they crucified Him, and with Him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. John 19:18

Congregation: This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. Acts 2:23

Pastor:  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

Congregation: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

Pastor: By abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  Ephesians 2:15-17

Congregation: He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name.  Philippians 2:7-9  

Pastor: For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:19,20 

Congregation: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13,14

All: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3

Major Events of the Passion Week

Here's an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week. It sure helps me to have a sense of when the events took place and is inspiring to read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter.

  • Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19
  • Jesus Clears the Temple: Mt. 21:12,13; Mk. 11:15-17; Lk. 19:45,46
  • Jesus' authority challenged in the temple: Mt. 21:23-27; Mk. 11:27-33; Lk. 20:1-8
  • Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Mt. 21:28-23:36; Mk. 12:1-40; Lk. 20:9-47   
  • Greeks ask to see Jesus: Jn. 12:20-26
  • The Olivet Discourse: Mt. 24; Mk. 13; Lk. 21:5-38
  • Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Mt. 26:14-16; Mk. 14:10,11; Lk. 22:3-6
  • The Last Supper:  Mt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22:14-20
  • Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room:  Jn 13-17
  • Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Mt. 26:36-46; Mk. 14:32-42; Lk. 22:39-46; Jn. 18:1
  • Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Mt. 26:47-56; Mk. 14:43-52; Lk. 22:47-53; Jn. 18:2-12
  • Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Mt 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mk 14:53-15:20; Lk 22:54-23:25; Jn 18:13-19:16
  • Jesus is crucified and buried: Mt 27:31-56; Mk 15:20-41; Lk 23:26-49; Jn 19:17-30
  • The glorious resurrection: Mt. 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-11; Lk 24:1-12; Jn 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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O Lord, be gracious unto us,.... This is a prayer of the church under the persecutions of antichrist, imploring the grace and favour of God in their miserable and distressed circumstances; desiring his gracious help, assistance, and deliverance; pleading not any merits of their own, but casting themselves upon the mercy and kindness of God: