Lent Devotion: March 20th
1When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
11Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
Over half of this passage describes Jesus’s instructions to two of his disciples regarding the details of fetching a colt, including where to find it, what kind of colt to get, and what to say. We aren’t told what the disciples were thinking, but it seems to me that part of them hoped for a more magnificent and nobler role than what preaching professor Thomas Long describes as “donkey detail,” or what another writer refers to as “donkey rustling.”
Given the past discussions where the disciples argued among themselves about who was the greatest, I doubt the disciples were thinking that they would have donkey duty that day. So, as Long notes, “on this very public and wonderfully glorious day of Jesus’ ministry, a day when Jesus will be welcomed into Jerusalem with joyous hosannas,” these two disciples find themselves behind the scenes, “mucking around a stable, looking suspiciously like horse thieves, and trying to wrestle an untamed and no doubt balky animal toward the olive groves.” Yet the donkey is a necessary part of the story. For if the disciples had done something different, this wonderful story would have been changed considerably.
This idea of being on donkey detail reminds me of the many ways we serve people. Maybe it’s by folding bulletins, singing to people at the local care center, cooking and delivering a meal to someone in need, or getting the oil changed in the church van.
What sort of donkey detail is the Lord calling you to? Is it your involvement with someone who is in need, helping with Sunday school, or volunteering in some way?
May we continue this Lenten season with a sense of service and obedience, listening for God’s call on our lives.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for this wonderful example of obedience given to us by these two disciples. Help me to be joyful while on whatever donkey detail you put me this week. Amen.
Mark Vellinga serves as the pastor of Mescalero Reformed Church in Mescalero, New Mexico. Along with his wife, Miriam, he strives to serve the Native American community in a way that honors their Native American heritage and demonstrates how that heritage shapes their faith.