By David Faust
Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away” (Matthew 21:1-3).
Obviously we need the Lord. But could we ever say that the Lord needs us?
God is all-powerful and self-sufficient. He doesn’t need anything from anyone. The Lord says, “I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:9, 10).
So it’s a little surprising to read Jesus’ instructions to the disciples: “Bring me a donkey and her colt, and if anyone questions your actions, say that the Lord needs them.”
A Profound Mystery
Christ is fully divine, but “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14) and he experienced human limitations and needs, including hunger, thirst, and weariness. He could feed a multitude miraculously with bread, but at times he relied on others to provide him with ordinary meals. He created galaxies, but at times he had no place to lay his head. By choice the Lord Jesus humbly placed himself in positions of need.
On this particular occasion he needed a couple of donkeys.
He needed the donkeys to fulfill prophecy. “This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: ‘See, your king comes to you, . . . gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey’” (Matthew 21:4, 5—quoted from Zechariah 9:9).
He needed the donkeys to stir things up. Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem started a chain reaction. Soon a spontaneous parade broke out in the streets. “The whole city was stirred” (v. 10). The excited crowds “spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road” (v. 8). As the noise level swelled and the palm branches waved, the crowds shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (v. 9).
He needed the donkeys to send a message. The crowds wondered who was worthy of so much attention. “Who is this?” they asked, and the answer came back, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” (vv. 10, 11).
A Practical Lesson
Does the Lord “need” anything from us? Technically, no. But if we choose to put ourselves at his disposal, he will do his work through us.
The Lord used David’s musical skill to produce the Psalms. He used the leadership ability of Esther and Daniel to influence kings. He used a boy’s meager lunch to feed thousands. He used a poor widow’s offering to teach about generosity. He used Peter’s voice to preach and Paul’s pen to write. He used Dorcas’s sewing ability to make clothes for the poor. He used Priscilla and Aquila’s tent-making skills to support his work, and their home became a meeting place for the church.
The Lord may not “need” us, but he graciously invites us to participate in the drama of redemption.
Even if all we have to offer is a couple of donkeys.
1. What can you offer the Lord for his use this week?
2. What help do you need from the Lord this week?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for March 3, 2013
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Leviticus 24, 25
Leviticus 26, 27
Numbers 1, 2
Numbers 3, 4