A Battle During a Parade
by Rev. Randy Brown
For the last several weeks we’ve been talking about different battles that are taking place in scripture. Battles that lead to the battle of good and evil where we come next week to realize the victorious in all the battles. It’s not normal to talk about a parade and a battle together, but hang with me today because I think that there is an appropriate tie-in here.
There was a lot going on behind the scenes. The battle was going on there. There was a king riding into town. The Pharisees complained. The Sadducees joined in there complaining. Rome was looking from afar to make sure things didn’t get out of hand. There was a king that was riding in to the city. The peasants were throwing their cloaks on the ground for the donkey to go over. The children were waving palm branches. The crowds were shouting hosanna.
Other people were arguing about who He was, about His authority, even about His politics. Jesus breaks down as He overlooks the city. It’s the second time that He broke down. The first time we see in scripture that Jesus wept He was at the tomb of Lazarus. This time He’s overlooking the city of Jerusalem, and He’s overcome with emotion. We’re told the same two words as He overlooks Jerusalem as we’re told when He stands beside Lazarus’ tomb: He wept. Could it be that the reason that He was weeping was not because of his friend, but because of the masses? You see Jesus cares for the individual, but He cares for the masses as well. Could it be that He realized again and the reality of the truth that He came in to His own and His own received Him not? Could the reality of that again start His heart so much that He just was overcome with emotion and as He stood there on that beautiful hillside, He wept for those who rejected Him?
In the midst of the battle though, there’s some good stuff going on and we want to talk about that. There’s a parade. Now, I have a conviction and I want to share it with you because I want you to help me. Everybody deserves a parade. Everybody deserves a parade. Turn to your neighbor and say “You deserve a parade.” Turn back to your neighbor and say “You do too.” Everybody deserves a parade. It doesn’t matter if it’s the doctor or the nurse, if it’s the bishop whose retiring after years of service, or if it’s the preacher whose never had more than twenty on a Sunday morning: Everybody deserves a parade. Whether it’s the head coach or the equipment manager, the director of the school or the custodian, the chief of staff or the orderly: Everybody deserves a parade. To be cheered, and to be applauded, and to be encouraged, and to be supported: Everybody deserves a parade. You know what? If it was up to me I’d give you one. We can give each other a parade. We can say a word of encouragement, a pat on the back, an arm around the shoulder, an atta-boy, an encouraging word. Everybody deserves a parade.
The second thing is this: Be careful about the parade. Everybody deserves one, but watch out. Because you know when your parade usually comes? A parade usually happens when you’re on your way out. That’s when Jesus got his parade. They were trying to get him out of the picture. Usually comes at the end of something. The mark or the end of a career. That proverbial gold watch at a retirement ceremony. Marks not the beginning of something, but the end of something. So, be careful. It celebrates the accomplishments. The grand marshal of the parade, whether it’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day or Rose Bowl, or New Years or whatever the parade is, usually there’s somebody that has accomplished something that’s on their way out that is asked to serve in that capacity. It’s reserved for the end of the career and somebody up and coming will move in. Next year nobody will remember who last year’s grand marshal was. So, be careful; it may be a way of getting you out the door. It was with Jesus. Parades are good things, but they’re not always a good thing.
But, we have to remember whose parade this was. The Parade. There’s an important character in this parade. Believe it or not this important character had four legs. A donkey. Not the most important animal to ever live, but think about this: the donkey was the transportation, the means of transportation that Jesus used from going to one village to the other. He went by the donkey from town to town, to village to village, from area to area, that was the mode of transportation. Jesus got around that way. When the parade started, and the palm branches were waving, and the cloaks were going down, and the chorus started, it would have been easy for that donkey to think “Ain’t I something?” You with me? That it was all about him, but it wasn’t all about him. It was about the messenger that he was delivering in to the village. You ever known a donkey to think that it’s all about them? Come on, ya’ll can laugh.
You ever known somebody to think it’s all about them? Even in the church we think sometimes it’s all about us, that we’re the main attraction. The main attraction is Jesus. Don’t ever forget that. You and I are called. I’m not going to say that we’re called to be a donkey, okay? I’m not going to call you a donkey, but I’m going to say to us this morning that sometimes our role is the same thing. That is that we are the vehicle whereby Christ will go from town to town, village to village, home to home, heart to heart. And, it’s up to us to transport him.
So, when somebody calls you a donkey, it’s not necessarily a bad thing because you and I have the same role to play; to be the vehicle and the means whereby Christ is transported from one place to the other, from one life to the other, from one heart to the other. We’re the means to carry him from one place to the other; that was the role of the donkey and that’s your role and my role; that we carry him wherever we go so that he might arrive where we arrive, so that he might enter in to the towns, and villages, and homes, and hearts that we go into. It’s not about the mode of transportation; it’s about the message and the messenger. That was the role that the donkey played and that was the role that you and I can play. That we transport him, that we take him wherever we go. And, with the means and the mode of transportation, for Jesus to walk out of our lives and into the life of someone else. It was His parade. It’s not ours.
And, they sang, hosanna. Hosanna, it was His parade. We need to realize something else here. We need to realize there was another unnamed hero in this story. We don’t know his name, we don’t know his political leanings, we don’t know where he stood on social issues, but when I get to Heaven I want to meet this guy. It’s the guy that owned the donkey. We don’t know his name, but we know his heart and his heart heard these words. “The Lord has need of it.” And, his heart responded, “Then take mine. Take mine.” You remind me of that guy because there’s lots in your life that God has equipped you with and if you listen you’ll hear the Lord say to you “You know that thing I gave you? You know that talent that you have? You know that resource that you have? You know those gifts and talents? I need those.” He’s saying that to us because there’s things in all of our lives that God wants to use. May our response be the same as the guy with the donkey? And, may we say “Lord it’s yours. It’s yours.”
He surrendered and he did it because the kingdom of God could be advanced. I want to say to you this morning there are things in your life that God wants to use to advance His kingdom. The Lord has need of it. Will we turn loose of it? Will we surrender it? Or, will we hold tight and waste what he’s given us? There’s something in each of you that God has gifted you with that God expects you to use so that his kingdom will be advanced. Gifts, talents, resources, abilities, passions, and the master has need of those. Will we be like this guy with the donkey and turn loose of it? And, if you don’t know what it is, ask him. And, if you still don’t know what it is, ask somebody who’s close to you, because they see things in you that you might not see in yourself. Be willing to say and hear that “the Lord has need of that.” How can I use it or how can God use what I have? And, He’ll use it for His glory.
Somebody asked one of the kids down at Frasier Memorial years ago when John Ed Mathinson was senior pastor there, he had this little church building in his hands. The little boy walked by and said “John Ed, what you got in your hands?” He said “Well, I got the church.” He said “I sure hope that you don’t mess it up.” You’ve got the kingdom of God in your hands. “Sure hope we don’t mess it up.” Sometimes we think we can only do something if it’s big and grandiose but in closing let me share this with you: “The Lord has need of it.”
Years ago in the city of Boston there was a shoe salesman by the last name of Kimble. Some of you, perhaps, have heard this story. If you ask my youngest daughter she’d say, “Yeah, I’ve heard that one before.” Kimble was a strong Christian man. There was a guy who came to work at the shoe store and Mr. Kimble led him to the Lord. The man who he led to the Lord, his last name was Moody, Dwight L. From that shoe department, Moody became a great preacher. He decided that he would talk to a friend of his and one night as Moody was preaching, a man by the name of F. B. Myer was converted. When Dr. Myer was converted, he wanted to go across college campuses and bring in athletes and have them give their testimony to college students and he did that.
And, out of that a man by the name of Wilbur Chapman came to know the Lord. Wilbur Chapman was later instrumental in serving and establishing the YMCA. The YMCA would bring in a man by the name of Billy Sunday. You know, that was before Billy Graham. He was the Billy Graham before Billy Graham. Billy Sunday, a brimstone kind of preacher. It was Billy Sunday who led another person to the Lord his name was Mordecai F. Ham. Mordecai F. Ham was preaching one night at a revival in a crusade in Charlotte, North Carolina and a young lanky boy walked down the isle and gave his life to Jesus. His last name was Graham. His first name was Billy. You know the rest of the story. So, from a shoe sales man in Boston to a crusade tent meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, God used people by the name of Moody, and Myer, and Chapman, and Sunday, and Ham.
We say we know the rest of the story, but the rest of the story doesn’t stop with Dr. Graham and all the crusades that he had. Dr. Graham, we’ve had a privilege to get to know some of his family the last several years at Black Mount, North Carolina. Anne’s husband was there, Danny. Danny died not long ago, but we’ve met their two grand children; Rachel Ruth and Mara. They’re tremendous Christian leaders and they have ministries of their own. Franklin’s ministry, his son’s ministry at the cove in Carolina, and it just keeps going on and on, and the world is hearing the gospel of Christ. And, you know, on that day when a shoe salesman in Boston led another shoe clerk to Jesus.
He had no idea where it would go. And, you have no idea who you can reach and who they’ll reach, and who they’ll reach, and who they reach. But, we can all reach at least one. The Lord has need of you. Of your talents. Of your gifts. Of your resources. And, the question we have to ask is, “What will we do with that?” Will we respond? Will we say, “Okay, Lord, it’s yours?” That’s the question. I don’t know if God’s got a hall of fame or not, but if He does I think there’s something there to represent a man by the name of Kimble. I think there’s a shoe spoon in God’s hall of fame that tells the story of a shoe salesman in Boston. That’s what he had and that’s what he used.
I guess my question this morning is if God’s got a hall of fame, and I think He does, what will be in that hall of fame to represent you and to represent us? That we turn loose of what we had to give it to Him that His kingdom would continue to be advanced.
Let us pray. Father in spite of the battles of life, Jesus never looked away from the cross. In spite of the battles, the guy with the donkey, he remained faithful. I’m sure there were people who told him not to do it, wouldn’t matter, wouldn’t make a difference, it’s just a donkey. Lord, sometimes we’re tempted to say our little bit wouldn’t matter either, but Lord, if you can change the world by a shoe salesman in Boston, you can change the world through us. So, Lord, all that we have and all that we are, we want to give to you that the kingdom will be advanced through us. Not because we’re so great, but you’ve equipped us with a great message. Help us to be the means of transportation where by the word is proclaimed and lives are changed. In Jesus name. Amen.