Luke 19:28-34 (CEV)
28 When Jesus had finished saying all this, he went on toward Jerusalem. 29 As he was getting near Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples on ahead. 30 He told them, “Go into the next village, where you will find a young donkey that has never been ridden. Untie the donkey and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks why you are doing that, just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”
32 They went off and found everything just as Jesus had said. 33 While they were untying the donkey, its owners asked, “Why are you doing that?”
34 They answered, “The Lord needs it.”
The Lord Needs It
I have a friend who regularly reminds me that God ‘owns the cattle on a thousand hills’.
It’s a reference to Psalm 50:10 where the Psalmist writes, “Every animal in the forest belongs to [God], and so do the cattle on a thousand hills.” A reference to a passage that suggests that everything belongs to God in the first place, and we are only stewards of the things we ‘have’ for the time being.
She reminds me of it when she’s not sure where the money to pay the next bill will come from.
She reminds me of it when her friends are in trouble and need things.
She reminds me of it when it feels like there won’t be enough.
And for some reason I am reminded of it this morning as I meditate on this passage about Jesus’ disciples untying a donkey and telling the owners that it’s completely okay that they’re stealing it because Jesus needs it.*
Because that’s basically what happens.
Jesus’ instructions aren’t to go into the next village, find someone with a donkey, barter over the price of it, pay for it, then bring it to him.
Jesus’ instructions aren’t to go into the next village and ask for someone who would be willing to lend them a donkey for a good cause.
Jesus’ instructions are to go and take the donkey, and, if asked, give the answer ‘the Lord needs it.’
And that’s it.
There’s no indication that the owners fight the disciples over this. No indication that they try to refuse or to stand in the way of the disciples’ leaving with their donkey.
There’s this incredible sense of acceptance implied in the text, at least, and it got me wondering. Is there anything that I ‘have’ that the Lord ‘needs’?
And then it got me wondering, and if there was something that I had that the Lord needed, would I part with it so easily?
Because if the Psalmist is correct – if God actually owns all of this, and it isn’t mine to keep but simply entrusted to me for a time, then it might change how I look at the things that I have.
It might change how I think about my stuff, and my money, and my space, and my privilege if I consider that at any moment the Holy Spirit might say, “the Lord needs that.”
* Yes, I know that some commentators suggest that since this is an area Jesus has visited in the past, he probably made arrangements in advance to borrow the donkey … but since we don’t have any proof of that, I’m going with the obvious for the sake of our meditation.
- I have a creative exercise for you this morning.
- I want you to take pictures (or draw or journal) over the next few days the things that you value that you ‘have’.
- Include your stuff, your money, your space, your privilege (gender, race, education, family background) – whatever you can think of.
- Then take a look at the images you have collected and consider what it would mean for these things to already be ‘the Lord’s’.
- Does it change how you use them today?
- Does it affect how tightly you hold them?
- Does it impact the way in which you offer them back to the Kingdom?