Robert D. Pace
Who Owns What
At times, Jesus borrowed things to emphasize important lessons. For example, he paused at Jacob’s Well to request water from a Samaritan woman. On another occasion, He borrowed Peter’s fishing boat and used it as a platform for preaching to the multitudes gathered along the shoreline. Later, He took a boy’s lunch and fed the thousands. And the final week of His public ministry He borrowed a donkey to ride into Jerusalem during Passover celebration. This story is known as the “Triumphant Entry” and three of the four Gospels mention it. Many lessons can be taught from this episode but there’s one particular angle I want to emphasize. It deals with ownership. The name of today’s message is “Who owns What?”
(Transition) Since our story deals with Jesus requesting the use of a donkey for His transportation into Jerusalem let’s consider who owned the donkey.
Who Owned the Donkey?
When Jesus arrived at the outskirts of Jerusalem, He stopped and sent two disciples to bring back an untamed colt that He would ride into the city. He directed them to where they would find the animal and instructed them to tell its owners, “The Lord has need of it.” When the disciples arrived to retrieve the donkey the scenario played out just as Jesus predicted. One of the owners said: “Why are you loosing the colt?” Subsequently, the disciples responded just as they were instructed, “The Lord has need of him” (Luke 19:33). This was an interesting exchange of words here because the Greek word for “Lord” also meant “Owner.” Thus, the disciples actually informed the earthly owners that the real “Owner” of this donkey, needed it.
(Humor) This request had the potential of creating an awkward encounter. Can you picture these disciples informing the earthly caretakers of this animal that someone referring to Himself as the donkey’s “Owner” wanted it? Some people treat their animals with more affection than they do their children! They would more readily dismiss their kids than lose Fee-Fee or Fido. But when the earthly caretakers of this donkey heard the disciples’ message they instantly submitted to the request. And according to Zechariah’s ancient prophecy, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey while worshipers proclaimed His praises along the roadside.
There must be significance to this story for three of the four Gospels to record it. Why was it important for Jesus to stop outside Jerusalem and wait for His disciples to retrieve this animal? Notice what’s happening: Christ’s divine destiny was culminating here. He had come to Earth to die on the Cross and redeem man from sin. But now, He pauses on the outskirts of Jerusalem and sends two disciples after a donkey. While there is significance to the issue of “Who Owns What?” I first want to make another observation.
Jesus was Israel’s Most Wanted Man! But now, He’s 17-miles outside Jerusalem calculating His entrance into the hub of hostility. Most men with a bounty on their head would slip into the city at night. But not Jesus! Why was He publically signaling His entry?
Consider this: Years earlier, kings of nations carefully selected their means of transportation when presenting themselves to the masses. When kings warred against cities they rode horses, but when they approached cities in peace they rode donkeys. So here was King Jesus entering Jerusalem in grand, royal view of all that would crucify Him. And what did His mode of transportation signal to onlookers? It signaled an entrance of gentleness and peace.
Yes, Jesus revealed Himself as the “Prince of Peace” 2000 years ago as He entered Jerusalem on a donkey. That was His First Advent. But His Second Coming to Earth will be upon the back of a horse. He will return as a “Man of War” to judge those that rejected His crucifixion. Have you received Christ as your Savior? If not, I encourage to before this service ends.
(Transition) But let’s focus on the point of today’s message from this story—the subject of “Who Owns What”?
Who Owns What?
Did you notice when Jesus sent His disciples to retrieve this donkey that Jesus told them to ask the “owners” (plural) for its use? This donkey was owned by more than one person. We can only surmise, but perhaps two poorer people had pooled their resources for this animal. But despite their poverty, they instantly released this young foal for the Master’s use. Someway, somehow these caretakers knew it was their opportunity to comply with God’s plan.
When Christians understand God’s grace and goodness they aren’t so reluctant to part with their possessions. They know how God’s arithmetic operates. They understand God’s blessing far outweighs whatever they surrender to God! But there’s more to understand about our sacrifices and gifts to God. And that’s the central point of today’s message.
Do you realize that all your possessions belong to God? It doesn’t matter if something is of incalculable value or it’s an insignificant piece of junk. Everything belongs to God! Psalm 24 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” When we understand this truth, it provides a unique spiritual perspective to all we possess. It shows that we know God has merely entrusted us as temporary custodians of His possessions and all our material enrichment is on loan from God! That’s what the Lord wants us to acknowledge. And when we do, it becomes easier to obey His principles of giving.
The Kingdom Belongs To You!
But there’s more! The reason God wants you to surrender whatever He requests is because everything God has is also ours! You see, it works both ways. As the Sovereign Lord and Creator, God owns everything. But as God’s children, His resources are also ours to enjoy for eternity! Jesus said in Luke 12:32, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Jesus is in the process of giving us everything that pertains to His eternal kingdom and He doesn’t plan to hold back anything! Turn to Matthew 25 and let’s read an incredible passage.
What a fabulous passage of promise! People struggle to crown Christ Lord of their life and possessions because they don’t understand His eternal plan of the ages. That plan involves the Father and Son sharing everything in their kingdom with their children.
There is a wonderful application that the Bible ascribes to our Creator. It’s called the Fatherhood of God. Always remember that! It means God treats the people of His Kingdom as His children—the “apple of His eye.” And our loving, Heavenly Father would never withhold anything good from his children. He’s not going to be unfair or hold back His goodness. And the more you understand this the easier it is to surrender whatever He asks. Undoubtedly, the earthly owners of this donkey were acquainted with Christ. They knew of His teachings and miracles. Their instant obedience to relinquish the donkey evidence this.
(Illustration) I heard about a boy that was given a piggy bank with the words, “This bank belongs to ____________,” and a blank space was provided for the insertion of his name. But the boy didn’t write his name in the blank. The boy wrote Jesus’ name in the blank space!
God wants you to know of His Lordship: that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” But He also wants you to understand His Fatherhood. And when you combine the two, it reveals that God will recompense His children for whatever He requests.
(Transition) Now, I want to focus on another aspect of God’s ownership. Do you realize God owns you! You, the actual person—body, soul and spirit—is owned by the Lord. You are completely His. That’s what I want to discuss.
God Legally Owns You!
(Example) When someone decides to take a chunk of granite and sculpts it into a work of art, who owns that artwork? The creator owns it! When someone purchases land, a house, or an automobile who owns it? The purchaser owns it. Two principles of ownership apply to man’s possessions: Ownership is determined by (1) creative rights, or through (2) lawful acquisition.
Do you realize Christ owns every human for these very reasons:
“In the beginning God created . . . man.” And that’s why He owns us.
Ezekiel 18:4 says: “For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son—both alike belong to me.”
Deuteronomy 32:6 says: “Is this the way you repay the LORD . . . Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?”
Romans 14:8 says: “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”
As Creator, God declares His property rights of man. But beyond God’s creative ownership of men, He also claims double ownership of others. God owns Christians through His claims of redemption. 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; (20) you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” Christians are doubly indebted to God because of creation and redemption.
Jesus departed the boundless realms of eternity to enter the confines of Earth. Born in a stable, His rightful place was at the Father’s right hand, but while on Earth He had “no place to lay His head.” He was maligned and ridiculed everywhere He went. He died on a cross, squeezed between two thieves. Christ’s purpose was to reveal Himself as the Ultimate Giver; the Giver who wholly and unreservedly surrendered Himself to the Father’s will. And Christ’s “giving” purchased man’s salvation! This is why God raised Jesus from the dead. Christ’s Resurrection is proof that Jesus is Lord, Owner, and Savior of those that believe on Him! And He has a legal right to every cell of your body and your every possession.
Simon Peter had this in mind when he preached to the thousands in Jerusalem: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, [Who paid the price] both Lord and Christ” (ACT 2:36).
(Illustration) Many years ago a minister in England was informed of a new assignment of ministry. He sent a reply back to the Bishop: “I understand that the authorities wish me to take over a certain Church . . . I must make it clear that I have no intention of doing so; I do not consent to this change. . . .” He then signed the letter: “I am, my lord, your obedient servant.” The absurdity of the letter is evident. It’s impossible to renounce the Bishop’s request and maintain obedience to him. While most Protestant Churches don’t operate with that form of government but many Christians conduct their lives accordingly. They say:
“Lord, I’ll serve you. But don’t ask me to take public stances that will create embarrassment.”
“Lord, I’ll obey you. But I reserve the right to “Veto” certain requests.”
“Lord, all my possessions are yours, just don’t ask me to surrender my. . . .”
Then there is the issue of Christian Service. “Lord, I’m your obedient servant. But I work tirelessly on my job, so don’t ask me to engage in ministry activities of the Church.”
One more point about this: If something in your life is outside Christ’s lordship; if anything is off-limits to Christ then it remains outside His blessing! Man and his possessions are only blessed as God has unrestricted access to them! Are you submitted to Him?
(Transition) Now, let’s turn to Matthew 21 and read the Parable of the Two Sons to help answer this question.
Parable of Two Sons
This parable shows that our obedience to Christ’s commands determines whether He’s Lord of our life. And Christ can’t be your Lord and Master without wholehearted commitment. The Lordship of Christ governs every area of your being—mind, heart, and actions.
Jesus described two sons that were commissioned to work in their father’s field. One son represented the rebellious mass of sinners that has no problem rejecting God’s commands. They were the tax collectors, criminals, and prostitutes but when they heard John’s preaching they repented and entered the kingdom. The other son, represented the pious religious community, those that appeared righteous and sounded religious, but ignored the commands of their Lord.
In the parable, both sons transgressed. One sinned with his words when he said, “I’m not working” but later repented and obeyed. The other sinned with his actions by pledging to work, but didn’t. Both sons treated their father’s commands as principles of convenience.
This parable aptly fits this generation! It’s a behemoth struggle for many Christians to maintain their promises. Commitments are often nullified before stepping out of sight. When God’s commands cramp our style, we tend to ignore them. But God’s people have always struggled with this:
At Mount Sinai, Israel pledged to Moses: “All these things the Lord has commanded us, we will do.” But a month later they were building a gold calf and claiming it as their delivering god.
Even Simon Peter failed at this point. On the eve of Christ’s crucifixion he asserted: “Even if I must die with you, I will never deny you.” But later that night Peter was the most vocal in denying the Lord.
Like Paul said we sometimes fail in practicing the good we want to do (Romans 6-7). We honor God with our lips but wind up disobeying. We say “yes” to God’s Law but somehow wind up failing the test of obedience. It’s a constant struggle to walk upright. Thankfully, God understands man’s propensity to stray. His chosen people Israel constantly illustrated this:
Deuteronomy 9:7 says: “From the day you left Egypt until you arrived here, you have been rebellious against the LORD.”
Deuteronomy 9:24 says: “You have been rebellious against the LORD ever since I have known you.”
Sixteen times in the book of Ezekiel God specifically called Israel “rebellious.”
But added to that propensity, Paul said the Last Days would be plagued with a spirit of anarchy. This is why it’s so difficult for Christians to maintain steadfastness toward God. They are contending with seditious, unseen forces of darkness! But Saints of God, the power of righteousness transcends the spirit of rebellion! 2 Corinthians 10 says, “We have divine power to demolish strongholds . . . [and] punish every act of disobedience” (4,6). You can stand firm in the Faith! Totally surrender everything to Christ. Give Him your will, ambitions, and desires. Proclaim Him as Lord of everything.
(Illustration) Florence Nightingale wrote in her diary: “I am thirty years of age, the age at which Christ began His mission. Now, no more childish things, no more vain things. Now, Lord, let me think only of thy will.” Later, when asked for her life secret she replied, “I can give only one explanation. I have kept back nothing from God.”
People fear signing the title deed of their life to God because of what He might require of them. And God could have a different plan than you have figured, but it’s not to make you miserable. His plan works for your good and you’ll never be content without submitting to it. If Christ is your Savior make certain His is Lord and possessor of all you own. The Owner’s reward is certain!