“Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:
‘Tell the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your King is coming to you,
Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.’’
So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’
Hosanna in the highest!’
And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, ‘Who is this?’ So the multitudes said, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.’”
We just read Matthew chapter 21. It describes how Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a colt. In this passage, the Lord is explaining what kind of people are chosen as His workers and how they are used by Him. Who then are those used by God? He uses those who have been loosed from their worldly ties. Those who are tied to the world cannot become workers because they still hold fast to many things of this world. Those who have been freed from the world are used by God as His precious instruments. God makes them His workers and fulfills His will through them. It’s through people who have been set free from the world that God accomplishes His work. He uses them for His work.
It is written, “Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.’ All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: ‘Tell the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey”” (Matthew 21:1-5).
When Jesus and His disciples came near Jerusalem, He said to two of His disciples, “Go into the village opposite and you will see a donkey and a colt. Untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone says anything, tell them that the Lord will use them.” This is something that only the Lord can say. If we had acted like this, people would say that we’ve gone mad. If we were walking and I said to you, “Bring me that car. If the owner says anything, tell him that the Lord will use it,” wouldn’t you think that I’ve gone insane? This passage is indeed something that only the Lord can say.
The Lord, who has saved us, is more than able to do this. Since He is the creator of the heavens and the earth, the entire universe and all things in it belong to Him, including the donkey. Because the Lord commanded His disciples to loosen the tied donkey and colt and bring them to Him, the disciples obeyed and did as they were told. Jesus then entered Jerusalem riding this donkey.
People welcomed Him with all enthusiasm. They laid down their clothes in the road. They took down palm branches and spread them in His way. They welcomed Him enthusiastically, shouting, “Praise God!” The Scripture passage says, “Others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!’” They, too, knew and believed that the King was entering their city.
This is how Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem. Yet the King of kings was riding a donkey that was loosed from the bondage of this world. He rode the donkey into the city out of humility. The Lord is the King of Heaven, but He entered Jerusalem riding a lowly donkey. In the Bible, donkeys refer to the descendants of Adam who have not been born again. The first man and woman, Adam and Eve, did not believe in the Word of God and disobeyed it out of stubbornness. God described them as donkeys. Someone who has a stiff neck and is stubborn is called a donkey.
Who are made workers before God? Even though we are as stubborn as a donkey, God makes us, the born-again, His workers. While it is a donkey that Jesus rides, it’s a special donkey that has been freed from the world. It is written, “But every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem” (Exodus 13:13). All of us, without exception, must be put to death because of our sins. But, by believing in the propitiation of the Lamb of God, we have been born again and redeemed from all our sins. These donkeys, having received the remission of sin, are God’s people. Even though we are Adam’s descendants, and even though we were destined to die for our sins, those of us who have received redemption through Jesus Christ and attained the remission of their sins are used by God. It’s by using these people that God fulfills His will.
If a donkey’s nose is strung with a rope and tied to a stake on the ground, how could this donkey be used? No matter how much anyone wants to use this donkey, if it’s tied to the ground, it can’t be used. In the same way, those who have been saved and are used by the Lord are those who have been untied or loosed from the world. Only those who have been released from the world are used by God as His precious instruments. God cannot use those who worry about what to eat, what to drink, what to wear, and all the material things. Jesus said, “You will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them.’”
God loosens the ties that bind us to the world and then uses us. Therefore those who are used by God are those who have been released from the ground. Among the saved, some people can become God’s workers, while others can’t. There are some young believers whom God cannot use to His heart’s content, and then there are those whom God can use to carry out His work. Someone who cannot become a worker before God is someone who is still tied to the world. God cannot use such people. He can’t use people who are still tied to the material pleasures of this world. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He said, “Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:44). Lazarus had been wrapped in linen grave clothes when he was placed in his grave. When the Lord called him and said, “Lazarus, come out of the grave,” he walked out wrapped in linen. Seeing this, our Lord said, “Loose him, and let him go.” Lazarus’ being raised from the dead implies his salvation—meaning that even though he had been bound by his sin and destined to hell, he was saved from hell, destruction, and sin to live again. Yet he still had many things that tied him down to the earthly things.
“Loose him, and let him go.” God loosens the ties through His servants. So His servants are those who release people from the ties that bind them to the world. Our Lord Himself does not untie them personally, but He loosens them through His servants. The donkey here was also tied to the world. A stake was driven into the ground and the donkey was tied by a rope to this stake. It was usually done this way. The donkey works for its master. It does everything that its master tells it to do. Long ago, when there were no cars, donkeys were the means of transportation. Just as a donkey is a worker to its master, we are also God’s workers once we are born again.
We receive the remission of sins and are born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Once we are born again, we are all qualified to be God’s workers. However, if we are still tied to the world, God cannot use us as His workers. The ties that bind us to the world really have to be loosed. Only when we are released from the world can the Lord ride us and enter Jerusalem with us. If we are still tied to the world even after receiving salvation, how can God use us for His work?
How many ties do you have that bind you? You may be tied to your acquaintances, to your emotional attachments, to power, to your basic needs, or even to yourself. But all these ties must be loosened before you can be used by God. God uses those who have been released from the world and themselves after being saved. God uses those who live by faith and say, “I believe that God will provide for my needs. Now that I’ve been released from the world, God will take care of me.” That’s because we do not live by human efforts. Those who are used by God are those who are not tied down to the world, who are led by Him and tied to God instead. God is glorified through people like this.
The donkey mentioned in today’s Scripture passage refers to us. As I just mentioned, it’s written in Exodus, “Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck” (Exodus 13:13). Every firstborn donkey had to be put to death. To save this donkey, it had to be redeemed with a lamb. This means that if a lamb was killed and offered to God in the donkey’s place, then this donkey did not have to be put to death. When a donkey was born, to avoid killing it required a sacrificial animal. Why doesn’t God like donkeys? He dislikes them because they are stiff-necked. Newborn donkeys were killed, and they were killed in a very specific way; by breaking their necks.
Most herbivorous animals are able to stand up and run around as soon as they are born. God had commanded the Israelites to kill newborn donkeys the very moment they were born by breaking their necks. Why? Newborn donkeys are the same as Satan, and stand against God. Donkeys won’t even listen when they are told what’s good for them. That’s why God said they should be killed. What God hates the most is when people disobey His Word and won’t believe it. So God says that the firstborn donkeys should be killed. Because the Bible frequently shows God’s will in the manner of representative principle, the word ‘firstborn donkey’ means ‘every donkey.’ Therefore the firstborn donkey means every one of us human beings.
Everyone born as Adam’s descendant is a donkey. People are stiff-necked and don’t listen to the Word of God. When they are told, “You are a sinner. You are a mass of sin,” they say, “Why am I a mass of sin?” When they are told, “You will die if you break any of My Laws,” they say, “No, I don’t think so.” They object to everything God says to them. When God says, “Do this,” they say, “I’ll do that instead.” When they are told, “It should be done this way,” they say, “I think it would be better to do it that way.” They are completely opposite to the will of God. When they are told, “Go this way,” they say, “No, I will go that way instead.” They are just like donkeys that do the exact opposite of what they are told. A donkey will never follow you if you stand in front of it and try to pull it toward you. In order to move a donkey, you have to stand behind it and beat its buttocks. Only when you raise a rod does the donkey obey you.
My fellow believers, all of us are donkeys. We were born as donkeys from birth. For us to be saved, we need a sacrifice of atonement. The animals that God prepared as sacrifices of atonement are lambs and goats. In order for us to be saved, we need a lamb. We can live only if a lamb shoulders our sin and dies in our place. The Book of Leviticus speaks about how many sins we commit while living in this world, and how many mistakes we make in our lives. Let’s turn to Leviticus here.
Leviticus 14:33-47 says: “And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: ‘When you have come into the land of Canaan, which I give you as a possession, and I put the leprous plague in a house in the land of your possession, and he who owns the house comes and tells the priest, saying, ‘It seems to me that there is some plague in the house,’ then the priest shall command that they empty the house, before the priest goes into it to examine the plague, that all that is in the house may not be made unclean; and afterward the priest shall go in to examine the house. And he shall examine the plague; and indeed if the plague is on the walls of the house with ingrained streaks, greenish or reddish, which appear to be deep in the wall, then the priest shall go out of the house, to the door of the house, and shut up the house seven days. And the priest shall come again on the seventh day and look; and indeed if the plague has spread on the walls of the house, then the priest shall command that they take away the stones in which is the plague, and they shall cast them into an unclean place outside the city. And he shall cause the house to be scraped inside, all around, and the dust that they scrape off they shall pour out in an unclean place outside the city. Then they shall take other stones and put them in the place of those stones, and he shall take other mortar and plaster the house.”
“Now if the plague comes back and breaks out in the house, after he has taken away the stones, after he has scraped the house, and after it is plastered, then the priest shall come and look; and indeed if the plague has spread in the house, it is an active leprosy in the house. It is unclean. And he shall break down the house, its stones, its timber, and all the plaster of the house, and he shall carry them outside the city to an unclean place. Moreover he who goes into the house at all while it is shut up shall be unclean until evening. And he who lies down in the house shall wash his clothes, and he who eats in the house shall wash his clothes.”
The passage here describes the statutes concerning leprosy. It outlines what should be done when leprosy broke out in an Israelite house. When someone came down with leprosy, the disease could easily spread throughout the whole house. The entire house could be infected with leprosy. When the leprous plague broke out in a house, the owner of the house had to come to a priest and tell him about it. The priest then had to go into the house and examine it. Once he determined that there was an outbreak of leprosy, he made its inhabitants remove its stones and cast them into an unclean place outside the city. Then the walls of the entire house completely scraped. The dirt scraped off the walls was then cast into a place outside the city where unclean things were dumped. The house here refers to us, human beings.
The Bible uses everything to speak about remission of sin. It is the only book that speaks of salvation. There is absolutely no way to receive remission of sin with any other book; nor to know the mystery of salvation. The Bible alone tells us this. Only through the Word of God can we know salvation. When leprosy broke out in an Israelite house, all the walls had to be scraped, and the filthy dust that was collected had to be cast out in a place where unclean things were dumped. Any unclean stones had to be removed and thrown out. The house here refers to people. In other words, anyone who has sin in his heart must be cleansed.
Like this house, how much mold do people have? How many mistakes do people make and how many sins do they commit throughout their entire lifetime? It’s not that the whole house is unclean. A certain place may be rotting away with mold, but everywhere else is fine. In those days, houses built with mud and dirt were prone to this. Even some houses built with cement are like this. Mold grows when there is too much humidity in the house. For people, it’s like being infected with leprosy. It’s very unclean. When you walk into a basement filled with humidity, you can often see mold growing all over the walls.
We all commit sin in our lifetime, no matter how hard we try to live an upright life. Someone builds a house to live a good life in. Although the house is clean at first, as time passes, the house comes down with the leprous plague. People born in this world try hard not to commit sin and live a virtuous life. But how can anyone not commit sin? Everyone commits sin. God had commanded the Israelites that when the leprous plague broke out in a house, all its infected walls had to be torn down and the dust had to be cast out. In the same manner, we also suffer the filthy leprosy of our sins we commit throughout our entire lifetime. God has commanded us to scrap them and throw them out. Sin is unclean.
Everyone commits sin. God looks into a person’s heart, sees the sin, and judges him to be unclean. He then tells him to scrap them and throw them out. When a house came down with the leprous plague, according to God’s Law, everyone who visited during the outbreak of the plague was also unclean. So He commanded that all the walls of the house should be scraped. A priest had to go to the infected, scrap all of its infected parts, and throw them outside the city. If the priest saw that leprosy broke out again after this, then the whole house had to be torn down. All the plaster and stones of the house had to be carried out and thrown into the place where unclean things were dumped.
This speaks about your life and mine. It speaks about all our brothers and sisters, and everyone in this world. God had established these statutes as a symbol for human beings. It’s impossible for us not to commit sins throughout our lifetime. We all commit sins, and we must scrap them and throw them out. What if we commit the same sin again after even after throwing it out? What should we do if our sins are once again exposed even after the Lord took them away? God says that if the same sin is exposed again, and we keep committing it repeatedly, then this house should be torn down, shut down, and all its part should be collected and thrown into a place where unclean things are dumped.
We all have the tendency to commit the same sin time after time. It’s human nature to commit sin repeatedly. We are no different from this unclean house. People commit the same sins repetitively time after time. This being the case, we should be thrown out to the unclean place and burnt with fire. That’s why the Bible says, “The wages of sin is death.” The Israelites scraped the unclean walls and threw its dust out, but if the leprous plague of the house kept breaking out after this, then the house was shut down and all its plaster and stones were thrown into a place where unclean things were dumped. If human beings continue to commit sin, they will be cast into the unclean place and burnt.
Everyone is born a sinner. Everyone is born a stiff-necked donkey. You and I were born with stiff necks, and even though it may seem as if we obey God, we actually don’t obey Him at all. All people who continue to disobey God must be shut down. They must be cast into hell.
For us to avoid hell, it’s not enough that the Lord only take away the sins that we’ve committed so far. Even though we are aware that we should not commit sin, we keep committing the same sins time after time. According to the Law of the Lord, we must all be demolished. The Lord came to this earth to blot out our sins forever.
What God sees in us forces Him to cast us into hell without exception. We all deserve to be sent to hell. We are nothing more than donkeys. Our necks should be broken and we should be put to death. In God’s sight, we all deserve to have our necks broken for being so stubborn.
However, out of His love for us, Jesus opened a new and living way for us (Hebrews 10:20). We must realize that Jesus has become the propitiation of atonement. Here God said, “Scrape off unclean dust and cast them into a place where unclean things are dumped.” Jesus Christ has become our sacrifice of atonement for all our sins. Jesus is our propitiation.
This means that Jesus, like a garbage can, took upon Himself all our sins, and became a repository of unclean things. In other words, even though Jesus was absolutely clean, He took all our sins, bore all our uncleanness, and was condemned in our place. Jesus shouldered all our sins and bore all our uncleanness through His baptism and His death on the Cross.
That is how Jesus became our propitiation. He came to earth to save you and me from sin. We are like stiff-necked donkeys that don’t listen to the Word of God nor believe in it, and disobey stubbornly. Jesus, the Lamb of God, who was completely sinless, died for us in our place. That is how we, stiff-necked, donkey-like beings, could avoid death, and how we now can be used by God as His precious instruments.
All of us need to grasp what is meant here by the house that came down with leprosy mentioned in Leviticus. The house plagued with leprosy refers to humans. It refers to our lives. If your house came down with the leprous plague, you would clean the house, scrape out any strange growth and all mold, and throw them out. It would be nice if the mold does not return, but if your house has too much humidity, it will inevitably break out again. If this keeps on, the whole house should be demolished.
We were born sinners. We are descendants of Adam. Adam and Eve are the ancestors of all mankind. But they were deceived by Satan and sin came into their hearts. Once they disobeyed the Word of God, they began to listen to the Devil’s words. Time after time they began to reject God’s Word. If mold does not grow again once it’s scraped out, then people can live in this house. But if the mold returns, even after scraping it, the house needs to be demolished. It would be all right if God takes away only the sins that we’ve committed so far, if we would not commit any sin from then on. But can we do this? Do we commit sin just once and then never commit sin again? Can any of us do this? Are any of us capable of not committing sin repeatedly throughout our lifetime? None of us can do this. It’s human nature to commit sin time after time until the day we die. We are nothing more than donkeys. We disobey and do not listen to God for our entire lives.
Then shouldn’t we be destroyed by God, just as the leprous house was destroyed? We must be torn down to our very foundation. Didn’t the Israelites scrape all the filthy and unclean things from the walls and cast them into an unclean place outside the city? When a house is torn down, where does the debris go? It’s thrown into a garbage dump? It’s buried in a trash dump. We all deserve to be cast into hell and forsaken by God. We cannot help but commit sin, and we commit sin time after time.
Despite this, Jesus became our propitiation so that God would save us. It wasn’t just a sacrificial lamb that died; it was the very Son of God, the living Creator Himself, who came as the Savior of mankind. Jesus sacrificed Himself to save us donkey-like beings in order that the house may not be demolished, but spared, Jesus took all the leprosy of mankind, all its filthy sins upon Himself, and shed His blood on the Cross to bear the condemnation of sin. Because of this, you and I have been saved by faith. The Bible says that these houses refer to human beings (1 Corinthians 3:9).
Fellow believers, the remission of sin is priceless. If a house is continually infected, then no one can live in there no matter how nice it may be. Why? Sooner or later, anyone living there will be infected with the disease. A leper may be completely healthy except for a small part of his body. But this is enough to call him a leper. No matter how smart or how wealthy this person may be, people don’t call him smart or a rich man. They call him a leper.
Long ago, one of my friends came down with leprosy. I didn’t realize it at that time. He was rather unattractive enough before he had leprosy, but he kept having sores. Since I had also often come down with skin diseases as boils and ringworm, I thought that he had some common skin disease like me. He was a very bright and sweet young man. His family was quite wealthy as well. He used give me all kinds of treats whenever I visited his house to play with him. But for some reason, no one else came to this house.
As time went by, and as I grew older, I finally realized that this kid was suffering from leprosy. I visited his house often, because back then I was too young to know any of this. But one day his family moved away. It was a long time before I realized he was a leper. He had sores all the time, but these sores didn’t go away. When I had boils, I could get rid of them easily with some home-made remedy. But he kept having boils on his face and body year round, and they never went away. He was suffering from leprosy. It didn’t matter how wealthy his family was; he was still a leper shunned by everyone.
The Bible also speaks of General Naaman, a leper. General Naaman was the commander of the army of Syria. He was the single most important hero who saved his nation. But the Bible says, “He was a leper.” He was more frequently called “Naaman the leper” rather than “Naaman the Commander.” Leprosy refers to mankind’s sins. No matter how hard anyone may try to live a clean life, he cannot help but commit sin. No matter how educated, how wealthy, how morally upright, and how decent anyone may be, if he has sin, then he is a sinner in God’s sight.
This type of person will be sent to hell unless he receives the remission of his sins. It doesn’t matter how much luxury and extravagance he may enjoy in this world. Nor does it matter how brilliant he may be and how he may have graduated at the top of his class. If he has sin in his heart, then he is only a leper. His intelligence and wealth are all useless. They can’t be used anywhere. If they are used, they will be thrown into a place where unclean things are thrown. This place where unclean things are thrown is hell. Just as people throw their trash into a dump, our sins must be thrown into the place where unclean things are thrown. This place where trash is burnt, where unclean things are dumped, is hell. Anyone who has sin will be cast into hell.
When a house was infected, a priest examined it. If the priest identified that the house was leprous, then its walls were scraped. All the infected dust was scraped and thrown out. When the priest returned to the house again, leprosy sometimes would have broken out again with mold growing all over. This house then had to be shut down and demolished. The same thing applies to mankind. Born as the descendants of Adam, we all commit sin. We may not have committed many sins when we were young, but we all become experts at sinning once we grow up. Even though people are taught to live virtuously, they still commit sin. When you commit sin, your heart may feel better after you make reparation for it by offering prayers of repentance. You may think that this exposed sin can be taken care of through religious remedies.
When people do good deeds, offer prayers of repentance, practice self-denial, and torment their own bodies, they think that their spirits can be healed of their guilt as compensation. But what happens when they commit sin again after this? What will you do when you commit the same sins time after time, and your leprosy is exposed even more than before? If every wall in a house keeps molding in all directions, then this house has to be torn down. What should we do when our sins continue to arise like this and we keep committing sin? Forgiveness that is attained through religion is useless and will be forsaken. Those who find refuge in religion will be thrown into the place where unclean things are dumped. They are destined to hell along with their sins.
My fellow believers, you and I are unclean people. We are donkeys. Just how well do we do the things that we are told not to do? Do we never commit sin again, once we receive the remission of our sins? No, we still commit sin. Do people quit drinking just because they are told to quit drinking? No, they still drink. The human mind is such that when we are told not to eat something, we want to eat it even more.
If your husband happens to drink a lot, there is quick way to make him quit drinking. If your husband gets drunk and makes a fool out of himself, get several more bottles ready. When your husband comes home drunk, give him more to drink. Open his mouth and keep pouring drinks down his throat. Let him take a small break and give him something to munch on. Then make him drink again. “Open your mouth.” Then give him some more munchies, and after a small break, start all over again to make him drink. Do this again and again. “Keep drinking. You like to drink, don’t you?” Keep making him drink.
Long ago, when my friends got drunk and kept bothering me, I used to prepare drinks for them and invite them over to my place to drink all night long. “Drink to your heart’s content! Since you like liquor so much, and since that’s all you want out of your life, here is all the liquor that you want.” I kept making them drink. Once people get drunk like this, they won’t drink again so easily. It’s simply human nature that makes people like to do something they are not supposed to do.
The Bible tells us not to commit murder, adultery, theft and so other things. But sooner or later, everyone does everything he is told not to do. We keep committing sin time after time. Think about it. Do we not commit any sin throughout our entire lifetime? No, we continue to commit sin until the day we die. When a priest found out that the leprous plague broke out again, even after scraping its infected walls once and throwing out the dust, this house was shut down.
If the Lord blotted out our sins only up until a certain point in time, it would be all right if we didn’t commit sin anymore from then on. But do we really commit sin only until that point? No, we sin everyday. We will sin until the day we die. If we were a house, would there be any place left clean? Would the door stay clean? Would the walls be clean? Would the ceiling be all right? If the ceiling were our heads, the walls were our limbs, and the door were our bellies, would anything be intact? Wouldn’t the house be infected with leprosy throughout? Wouldn’t it be completely filthy, filled with humidity and mold? Who would ever live in such a house? It will be torn down in the end.
My fellow believers, what does it mean that you and I have received the remission of sins? Jesus has become our repository of unclean things. He took upon Himself all our uncleanness, accepted all our sins, became our sacrifice of redemption, and shed His blood to be condemned in our place. We should be grateful for these things. When you and I examine ourselves, we see that we are bound to commit sin until the day we die, and to be cast into hell. Just as the leprous house was torn down, we cannot help but keep committing sin and be thrown into hell by God.
However, Jesus took upon Himself all our sins and uncleanness, and He died in our place. To save a donkey, an innocent lamb was killed. How docile is a sheep? A sheep’s hair is very white, soft and docile; yet, it was killed? It was all to save this ugly donkey. In other words, Jesus was condemned in our place to save such worthless people like us, to save every sinner in this world, and to save us lepers. We are fortunate and should be thankful because of this Jesus. Don’t you agree?
We have received the remission of our sins. But even so, don’t we still have shortcomings? Of course we do. When a house is infected with leprosy, its symptoms are clearly revealed. In the same manner, our shortcomings are exposed, and that is why we were leprous houses that had to be torn down. That is why we are people who had to be cast into hell. But because our Lord took upon Himself all our uncleanness, and was condemned in our place, you and I have been saved by faith all because of the Lord Jesus Christ.
How fortunate is this? If Jesus had only taken away our sins up to a certain point in time, or just our original sin, then we would once again be destined to hell the very moment we commit sin again. Just as God said that if a house that’s healed comes down with leprosy again, and should be torn down, we are to be torn down. As the wages of sin is death, we are inevitably bound to hell. But Jesus has healed us completely from all these sins. Where did God throw all our sins? Didn’t He throw them out to Jesus? Is Jesus then unclean? If Jesus is the place where all the unclean things are thrown, does this then mean that Jesus Himself is unclean? No, not at all. Jesus is perfectly clean without any sin whatsoever. He bore our uncleanness in order to save us. Even though Jesus is clean, He bore our uncleanness to save us and was condemned in our place. That is how we have been saved and resurrected. It’s because Jesus sacrificed Himself that we have been remitted from our sins and brought back to life.
How many sins do you and I commit? We commit countless sins throughout our lifetime. Even after receiving the remission of our sins, we sin again. That’s why Jesus became our propitiation. He became our sacrifice of atonement. He died in our place. Jesus, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed in our place. He took upon Himself all our uncleanness, and He was condemned to die instead of us. Because Jesus bore our condemnation, we’ve been saved. It’s written, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus fulfilled the salvation for us, the unclean humans. It’s because Jesus took upon all the uncleanness of mankind and paid off the wages of sin that we have been saved. That is how we have become such people who are used by God. Don’t you agree?
Those who have too much of their own righteousness say, “I am different. I can avoid committing sin repeatedly.” But how are they any different? When a house comes down with the leprous plague once, doesn’t the plague break out again? Once mold begins to grow somewhere from too much humidity, it will inevitably grow again even after it’s scraped out. It’s the same with sin. Once our bodies are stained by sin, inevitably we commit sin time after time. That’s because everyone was born as a descendant of Adam. Because Adam fell into sin, all of us who were born as his descendants have inherited sin and continue to commit sin repeatedly throughout our lifetime. That is human nature.
If we receive the remission of our sins, do we somehow no longer commit any sin? Is there anyone who doesn’t sin? How insufficient are we? The Bible speaks about the leprous plague of a house. But this refers to us as individuals. How insufficient are we as individuals before God? How weak are we? Just how many blemishes do you have? There is no end to our blemishes. We expose our blemishes and we are still insufficient. We have poured out so many blemishes. But Jesus took upon Himself all our insufficiencies and all our sins. Where did Jesus bear them? He bore them in the Jordan River, by being baptized by John the Baptist.
Unclean things are thrown into a dump. Fire comes up from the dump to burn them. The Law of God says, “The wages of sin is death.” If we have sin, we must be condemned to be cast into fiery hell. However, Jesus took all our uncleanness and was condemned in our place. In other words, He bore all our sins and died in our place. That is how we were able to be cleansed. And that is how God fulfilled His law that declares the wages of sin to be death. It’s because Jesus shouldered our sins and died in our place that we have now received the remission of our sins and attained everlasting life in Christ Jesus.
The gift of God is eternal life. The gift that’s in Christ Jesus is now found in those who have been born again of water and the Spirit, and this gift is everlasting life. By believing in Jesus, we have been saved. Jesus became our sacrifice of atonement. He died in your place and mine. It wasn’t just a lamb that died, but Jesus Himself, God in the flesh, died for us. That is why we were able to have our sins remitted for eternity. Our propitiation is Jesus who has blotted out all our sins. Do you believe this? We give praise to the Lord who has saved us from all sins. We believe in God. We give Him all our praise.
We, the donkey-like beings, were saved because of the Lamb of sacrifice. It’s all because of Jesus that we sinners were saved. He bore all our sins in the Jordan River, and He was condemned to death in our place. Jesus carried all of our sins that we commit throughout our lifetime. He was condemned in our place by shedding His blood and dying on the Cross. That is how we were remitted from all our sins.
All of us have received the remission of sin in this manner. But who among us are made God’s servants? In Matthew chapter 21, who is made a worker before God? What kind of people can become Jesus’ disciples? It is those who are not tied to the world. You can become a disciple of Jesus only if you are not bound to the world.
Jesus wants to use the donkey which He appointed. To whom does this donkey refer? It refers to you and me. Jesus had never ridden a donkey before. But when He entered Jerusalem, he used this donkey. When a king enters, he has to ride on something. Because Jesus was humble, He rode a donkey. God uses insufficient people like us. He wants to work through human beings who are donkeys. Even though we are indeed insufficient, because we have received remission of sins, God uses people like us.
My fellow believers, if you donkeys want to be used by the Lord after receiving the remission of our sins from God, then we must be released from this earth. If we are completely tied to the world, God cannot use us even if He wants to. If you and I are bound to this world, God cannot use us even when He wants to use us. The first condition for anyone to be used by God is that he must be untied from the world. Only donkeys and colts that are untied can be blessed to be used by Jesus who has saved us. Do you understand this? You can’t be used if you are tied to the world. If God wants to use someone, if he has too many ties that bind him to the world, He says, “There are so many ropes tying you down that I just can’t use you. I will just have to give up on you.” However, if he is not tied down to the world, even if he is insufficient, he can be used by God, and God can entrust him with various tasks.
There are two types of people who have received the remission of sins: those who are used by God, and those who are not used by God. Some people just stay in the Church doing nothing, even after being born again. Those who are not tied to the world can become true workers of God. If we are not tied to the world, God will draw us and use us. If we want to be freed from the ties that bind us to the world, we must listen to the Word of Jesus.
Only then can we be released from the bonds. Just as Jesus said to the disciples, “Go and untie the donkey and bring it to me. If anyone says anything, tell him that the Lord will use it,” God unties us from this earth in order to use us. He cuts off all the ties that bind us to the world. When we become free, God takes us, rides us, and makes us work for Him. He takes us wherever He wants to go and carries out His work through us. But how could the Lord use us like this if we were still bound to the world? When the Lord uses us, He always frees us first from the ties that bind us. Only when we are released and set free does God use us.
My fellow believers, what kind of people are you and I? Are we worthy of God’s use, or are still tied down? Are you not bound by yourself? “How should I make a living? How should I live?” Those who are tied to the world like this must be released. God cannot use people who are unbound from the world but still continue to be tied down. Will God ever ride anyone who is tied down? Will He ride him just to take a picture? If you want to enter the great city of Jerusalem carrying Jesus on your back, you must not be tied down. Wherever God commands you to go, you must go there, whether by running or walking. But how can you move forward if you are still tied down?
For all of you who have been born again of water and the Spirit to live as God’s workers, you must not be tied down. A life that’s lived to serve Jesus and carry Him on the back is more glorious. Those who are bound to the world are always worried, wondering anxiously how they could make a living. In contrast, if you are released from the world and used by God, then you will enter His palace and be glorified along with the Lord, hearing countless people shouting, “Hosanna in the highest! Praise the Lord! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” You will live this blessing, and you will enter His Kingdom.
There are two types of donkeys: One is tied down to man, and the other is held by God. Even though we have been saved, we can be tied to two places. We can be tied to God as well as to man. We were actually tied to man alone, just as a donkey was actually tied to its owner from its birth. If the owner of the donkey wants to save it, then he offers a sacrificial lamb and kills it instead of the donkey. The donkey is then bound to the owner according to the Law of God. Our fundamental existence is just like this donkey. When we live by faith, believe in the Word of God, and follow the guidance of the servants of God who preach His Word, we will be released from this world. We will be tied to God, and then be used by God.
Do you want to be used by God? Then when God’s servants release you from your bondage, you must accept this by faith. Jesus never uses anyone who is tied to the world. This means that all God’s workers have been released from their bondage. They have all been set free through the servants of God. By saving us and then releasing us to go freely, God has enabled us to enter His glorious Kingdom. Our Lord wants to use us as His instruments to spread this gospel that has blotted out all our sins. I want you to realize the will of God, and become a worker of God by faith. Do not be bound by yourself.
We live in this world with what we have learned, what we have experienced, and what we know. No one can escape from the limits of human means and abilities. Everyone lives like this. However, once you are saved, there is another way to live. There is a way for you to live your life used by God as His instrument, receiving His blessings.
Yet people are usually prone to cling to one thing that they’ve learned. For instance, when a parent passes down his business skills to his son, the son’s fate is already sealed in his father’s footsteps, because they are all this son knows. All he saw while growing up was what his father did. Having been trained to regard this work as his own, the son knows only that he has to make his living doing this work. This is all he knows, even though there is another way for him to make a living.
In this world, there are many ways to live for God apart from what you know. There are many ways you can live more splendidly and gloriously for God. Many roads can lead you to a more worthwhile life. Yet even we, the born-again, only know what we know. There clearly is another way. The Kingdom of God is wide, expansive, and deep. Just as a bakery is always full of bread and not a day goes by when it isn’t, so is the Kingdom of God filled with glory. It’s not good to live according to your own ideas. If you give up your own way and cast it aside, then you will find a way to live by trusting in God. You shouldn’t stubbornly try to live only on what you have. That’s not all there is.
Can you succeed only if you graduate from a prestigious college? No, of course not. In the old days, when Korea was under the Japanese colonial rule, there were a quite a few people who graduated from prestigious Japanese universities like the University of Tokyo or Waseda University. But these people absolutely refuse to do any manual work, even if it means that they will to starve to death.
One of my acquaintances who graduated from Waseda University in the early 1940s had never done any manual work in his entire lifetime. Why? Because he was too proud. Because he was too proud of his formal education, he couldn’t tolerate any criticism from his boss and ended up shouting, “Which university did you go? You call that a university? I’ve graduated from Waseda University!” Because of this, he kept moving from one job to another, and he was not doing that well. While plenty of other people did manual work pushing wheelbarrows and carrying loads on their backs, this man couldn’t bring himself to do this. He thought to himself, “I’m a graduate of Waseda University. How can I pick up loads on my shoulder? How can I push some wheelbarrows?” Even though he hadn’t achieved anything in his life, he was so conceited that he told his wife to go out and get a job. If it was such a prestigious thing to have graduated from Waseda University, why did he make his wife do manual work, when he himself couldn’t do this?
He thought that educational credentials were all that mattered. But the way is not found in formal education only. On the contrary, it’s because of his educational credentials that every road was blocked for him. I am not saying that you shouldn’t attend college. If that’s the direction that you want to take, then by all means study hard. But if that is not the direction you want to take, then there is another way. Some people are so obsessed with their study that it’s all they know, but I want you to be careful so that this won’t prevent you from doing anything else.
People who had been good students are usually narrow-minded. There was a pastor with whom I was acquainted while attending seminary. I am not sure if he is still alive or not, but when he was attending seminary, his grades were all A’s, and he graduated at the top of the class. There was no student like him. Whenever he preached, he memorized the whole sermon from beginning to end. So you can see how brilliant this pastor was. Yet he only had about 20 members in his church. After a lifetime of ministry, all he had was a tiny church with a small membership.
Even though he had been an excellent student, he was a complete failure when it came to the ministry. He admitted this all the time, saying, “When I was studying, I was a far better student than all my classmates. But now, they are now ministering more successfully than me. It’s so strange. Studying is one thing, but this ministry is an entirely different thing.” I am not saying that you shouldn’t study. But I am pointing out that there is more than just studying. What you learn on this earth is not everything and what you have on this earth, is not everything.
My fellow believers, you must not be tied down to this world. Even while studying, if there is a better way, then you should know when to stop. But if you have to see it through, then by all means study diligently until the end. I have no interest in whether our brothers and sisters at our Church are good students or not. I look at whether they really have faith or not. I look at whether they believe in the Word of God or not, how much they follow God by faith, and how much they obey Him by faith.
Those who are used by God are blessed the most. Jesus had told the disciples to bring a donkey and a colt and then He rode them. We have to realize that only a donkey that’s released like this is used by God. What matters is not whether or not you are a good student. What’s more important is how you are living by faith, and how obedient you are to God. Since the things of this world are not the Truth, all that you have to do is just memorize them. While memorizing also requires at least with some degree of understanding, the things of the world are not that important.
The reason why I am talking about studies here is because I don’t want you to be tied down to this world too much. Life is not all about studying, nor is your own knowledge all there is to your life. Nor, for that matter, does power or authority mean everything in your life. None of these things means everything before God.
What does God say in the Bible then? The Lord says, “Untie the donkey and bring it to Me.” “What should we do if others say something?” “If anyone says anything, tell him that the Lord will use it.” My fellow believers! Do you want to be used by God? If you want to be used by God, then you must be released from the things of the world. You may be treated as a rather dim-witted person, however, it’s good for you to be released from the world and tied to God instead. Do you understand this?
Those who are faithful only to the affairs of the world cannot be used by God. Such people are not even that faithful to worldly affairs, even though they may seem to be. In reality, those who are tied to God also do the work of the world faithfully. Don’t be tied down too much to the affairs of the world. You must not allow yourself to be bound by these things. Studying is just something you do. College is just somewhere you go. Business is just something you run. Your job is also just something you do, and your social life is also something that you are engaged in. None of these things is all there is to life. In other words, don’t engross yourself in the affairs of the world, because if you are bound by the world, you cannot be used by God. It’s only when you are released that you are used. God says that those who have become workers in His sight have been freed from the world.
However, those whose faith is young have many ties that bind them to the world. Whenever you are tied to the world, think about the gospel of the water and the Spirit through which Jesus has saved you. Jesus was baptized in our place. He shed His blood on the Cross. He rose again from the dead. Doing all of this, He took away all our sins. Jesus has become our propitiation. Because an animal could just become our sacrifice of temporary atonement, but Jesus Himself, our God, our Creator could become our eternal propitiation, so all our sins were blotted out forever by His eternal sacrifice.
We must become the ones who are used by God. Once saved, we must become like the donkey that was used by the Lord. I believe that God will use us like donkeys that partake in His glory. I believe that God will, without fail, release us from all the ties that bind us to this world and use us as His instruments. Halleluiah!a