Why Did He Want Them to Do That?

March 23, 2024

In the church calendar–the way that many churches reflect on the life and ministry of Jesus–this Sunday is Palm Sunday. That is the day that many Christians remember Jesus’ “triumphal entry” into the city of Jerusalem shortly before His passion and death.

His entrance was quite a celebratory moment. The feast of the Passover was underway, and many faithful Jews would have come to the city to celebrate. John suggests that some of the crowd that gathered around Jesus might have been there not only because of that feast, but because just a short while earlier He had raised Lazarus from the dead and they wanted to see the formerly-dead Lazarus (John 12:9). Clearly, Jesus approached the city anticipating a large crowd.

But there is something else Jesus anticipated; something else He intended. Here’s what Luke tells us:

When Jesus drew near 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.'” So those who were sent went away and found it just as He had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought it to Jesus . . . (Luke 19:28–35)

Perhaps you’ve never thought much about this little moment that is the prelude (and a necessary part) of the “triumphal entry.” It is true that Jesus’ entrance on that colt was the fulfillment of a prophecy made many years earlier; Matthew reports that is what the prophet had spoken (Matthew 21:5; Zechariah 9:9). But maybe there is something else going on.

How do you think those disciples who were sent on that somewhat strange quest felt about their assignment and how it played out?

Go into a very busy area during this time when the streets are crowded with people and find a colt tied up. Without so much as inquiring about the owner, just untie it and bring it. Unless, of course, someone interrupts you on the errand and then just tell them “the Lord needs this.” Really?

What must they have been thinking as they returned with the colt? It would seem there could only have been one thing going through their minds: As surprising as it seemed as we set out, everything played out exactly as Jesus said it would!

Could it be that as Jesus was leading His disciples into the city, having explained to them what He was going to face there (and their reluctance to think it was really going to go as badly as He had intimated), that they needed to be assured: Everything Jesus had told them was, in fact, going to happen exactly as He had said.

He was going to rejected. He was going to delivered up. He was going to be condemned. He was going to die. And He was going to rise again.

All of that was quite unimaginable to them. But He had said those things. They needed to know that Jesus meant what He had told them.

Could it be that the “colt assignment” was a simple way to make that point? Yes, everything He has said will happen just as He has said it.

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