“As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. ‘Go into the village over there,’ He said. ‘As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.’” (Matthew 21:1-3, NLT)
It was Sunday of the week that Jesus would be crucified, and the Passover festival was about to begin. Jews came to Jerusalem from all over the Roman world during this week-long celebration to remember the exodus from Egypt. Many in the crowd had heard about Jesus’ miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead. John tells us “Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, and they were telling others about it. That was the reason so many went out to meet Him – because they had heard about this miraculous sign.” (12:17-18, NIV).
When Jesus came riding into the city, it was the fulfillment of a prophecy in Zechariah 9:9, where a donkey and a colt are mentioned. Matthew shows how Jesus’ actions fulfilled the prophet’s words, giving evidence that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. “Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet He is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt.”
I find it interesting how Jesus acquired the colt upon which He rode. Matthew tells us that He sent two of His disciples ahead of Him into a village. He told them, beforehand, that they would find a donkey and a colt tied up. He instructed the disciples to take the animals and, if anyone were to ask what they were doing, just say, “The Lord needs them….”
Mark tells us what happened when the disciples did what Jesus told them to do. “The two disciples left and found the colt standing in the street, tied outside the front door. As they were untying it, some bystanders demanded, ‘What are you doing, untying that colt?’ They said what Jesus had told them to say, and they were permitted to take it.” (11:4-6).
There’s something about what Jesus told His disciples to say that strikes me. “The Lord needs them.” As I read that, I wondered what I may have that the Lord needs for His purpose. Would I offer it so quickly? Matthew said their response was immediate. What a picture of a spirit-led, spirit-filled life! The two disciples must have wondered where they would find the animals as they went into the village. Still, they went. Then, when they got there, it must have felt a bit weird to just untie them and begin to walk away, with people watching them. I can imagine how nervous they must have been when the bystanders demanded an explanation for why they were taking the animals. I may have been tempted to bolt about then – if I had even gotten that far with the mission! Nevertheless, remembering Jesus’ instruction, the disciples said, “The Lord needs them.” Would it work? Just like Jesus said! The bystanders immediately let them go. Relief must have washed over the two disciples, and what a story they must have told the others when they got back!
There is no better word to describe the spirit-led life than adventure! When we purpose to obey, to make our lives available to God, the adventure begins! The disciples didn’t have to figure it out – or even propose their own plan. They simply obeyed what Jesus instructed of them. As we follow Christ, He will prompt our hearts with what He wants us to do. The closer we walk with Him, the better we will know His heart. The disciples didn’t question the risks; they were simply obedient. Restfully available and instantly obedient. That’s all God asks of us! Does that describe your Christian experience? Part of the Lent Experience is for us to make adjustments in our lives that will lead us closer to Christ. The willingness to say, “All that I am and all that I have are yours, Lord.” Isn’t that how Jesus made Himself available to His Father?
- What is it in your life that the Lord needs? How willing are you to respond?
- What are the barriers in your life to obedience? Fear? Unbelief? Identify them and spend some time confessing them to God as you make a fresh commitment to become restfully available and instantly obedient to Him.