And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’ ” Luke 19:28-31 (ESV)
This passage refers to what is called ‘The Triumphal Entry,” when Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people worshiped him. In Matthew’s account, he writes that this was fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, which speaks of how the Messiah would enter Jerusalem. We celebrate and remember this event each year the week before Easter, called Palm Sunday.
This passage further illustrates the humble character of Christ. From being born in a manger, in a little town, to entering Jerusalem on a lowly donkey. This donkey, though seemingly insignificant, played a very important role. The donkey had the privilege of carrying the Messiah upon his back. Without the donkey, this particular prophecy could not have been fulfilled. As the scripture says, “the Lord has need of it.” Yet the story is not about the donkey; it is about Jesus. The people did not worship the donkey; they worshiped Jesus.
This scripture is also of personal importance to me. 5 years ago, God was transitioning me from my then position as a youth pastor to my now current position of Lead Pastor. I knew things were changing, but I wasn’t sure what that was supposed to look like. I loved where I was and I was not all that excited about the prospect of leaving. I also had little desire or aspirations to be a lead pastor. I was struggling with all that was happening, and in all honesty, was resisting what God was speaking to my heart.
In the midst of this, a dear woman from our church approached me in the middle of a service with what she believed was a “message from the Lord.” Whenever you hear this, you never know what might be said next! Fortunately for me, this lady was right. She went on to share this story with me again and said to me, “just as the Lord needed that donkey, he needs you.” She had no idea what was going on in my heart and spirit, yet her words served as a clear sign of confirmation for me. It did two things that day: first, it confirmed that God was indeed speaking to my heart. Secondly, it reminded me of God’s sense of humor. He was saying he needed me, but he was also reminding me that I’m just the donkey!
You see, for every believer of Jesus, our calling is to carry Jesus wherever we go. Our job is not to force people to Jesus, or to force Jesus to people. He will reveal himself to people in his own way and in his own timing. The gospel is not about us, it is about Jesus. Too often, with the best of intentions, we (followers of Jesus) try to force Jesus and Jesus-things onto people, because we believe he truly is the answer to every problem. But that is not our job. We are called to simply carry Jesus. What does that mean?
I believe it means that in everything we do we are to exalt Jesus by living, speaking, and treating others as he did. In fact, Jesus said on multiple occasions that he only spoke or did what the Father gave him to speak or do. How many of us can say that? How many of us even spend time praying that we would only do or speak what God gives to us? My guess is very few. Too often I have responded or reacted to things based on my emotions or circumstances. It’s easy to feel the need to stand up for or defend Jesus, but he never called us to do either. He simply calls us to be the ones through whom he will speak and act.
As we close down 2015 and look toward 2016, may we be challenged to get back to the root of the gospel–the love of God through Jesus–and commit to making Jesus known by carrying him everywhere we go. Let us be “donkeys for Jesus”; nothing more and nothing less.
God bless you with a fruitful and prosperous New Year!