On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood
What Does the Lord Need?
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell them, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’” (Mark 11:1-3, NIV)
The walk from Jericho to Jerusalem involved an arduous climb during a walk of over 20 miles, rising from 1,200 feet below sea level to 2,500 feet above. We assume Jesus walked it because only when He neared the top did He ask for a donkey. He had begun the ascent the day before, joining no doubt with other pilgrims in singing the Psalms of Ascent (120-134). After a rest stop for the evening, He approached the villages of Bethphage and Bethany, atop the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, sometime in the morning.
In following His steps from Jericho, we see again the humility of our Lord. He didn’t ask anyone to carry Him, nor did He ask for any special means of transportation. Given that He was walking toward the cross to die for our sins, surely He was entitled to special treatment. But for our sake He became a servant. He set an example for all in His kingdom that special status does not mean we exercise any special privilege. He declined to live an entitled life.
He knew that in the next village a colt on which no one had ridden was tied. How did He know this? We are not told. It’s possible He could have made prior secret arrangements with His friends Lazarus, Mary and Martha, who lived in Bethany, even as later in the week He made arrangements for the Upper Room without the disciples’ prior knowledge (14:13,14). More likely, He knew it supernaturally since if He would have made prior arrangements, the colt would have been brought to Him and bystanders would not have been asking questions about why the colt was being taken.
What is known is His intention. Matthew’s account of the colt was Jesus’ way of fulfilling Zechariah 9:9.
“Say to the Daughter of Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey’”
The Lord anticipated that His two disciples would be queried when they began to untie the colt. Jesus thought one step out in front. He considered the consequences of actions — a very necessary trait in all great leaders. So, He prepared the disciples with an answer in the event they were questioned.
This is the first time in the Gospel of Mark that Jesus is recorded as saying He needed something.
Amazing! The Creator who owns all things, who made the cattle on a thousand hills, doesn’t even own one animal. He has to borrow a colt in order to have transportation.
It’s a lesson for us. Jesus looks at you and me today. Theoretically, He doesn’t need anything. After all, He is ascended and at the right hand of the Majesty on High. But He nevertheless looks to us. He says: “I need your life. Will you give it to Me?”
Or, He may say, “I need you to do this for Me. I need you to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit those in prison, care for the sick, and be My witness to those who are lost. Will you do that? I need you.”
A prayer of response
GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.
On Your Mark