We ask, “What is ‘it’ that the Lord has need of?” This is a behind-the-scenes Palm Sunday question. Upon reaching the top of the Mount of Olives, Christ dispatched two disciples on an errand to find a colt. The disciples were supplied passwords to give to an innkeeper, “The Lord needs it.”
The words of Zechariah (9:9) then became real: “See your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The drama of Palm Sunday was foretold, a set-up for God to show up.
The use of passwords proves that Jesus’ entrance was carefully planned.
In spite of a bounty on His head, Christ had chosen Passover in Jerusalem, a time when all of Israel would assemble to proclaim his mission. He chose the Jericho road, knowing that a huge crowd would be present. The gathering was wildly enthusiastic, believing Jesus to be the next King David, able to restore their nation to glory, and to liberate them from Roman rule. But the dream of restoration deafened the people to the words of Jesus and His true mission.
In time, it was evident that Jesus was not a political figure. His first stop in Jerusalem was not the palace, but the Temple—where he evicted the moneychangers from “the House of Prayer.”
Christ’s dramatic entrance on Palm Sunday was intended to spread the message of peace. But, when the people refused to see and know “it,” Jesus was disheartened. Scripture says, “He wept over ‘it,’ and He said, ‘If you, even you had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes.’”
Christ saw that ambition for political power had blinded men to reason. Instead of seeking salvation, men deferred to political correctness. The Pharisees on the roadside said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” (Luke 19:39). Instead of fearing Godly consequences, the Pharisees feared local political fallout. Thus, Christ said to them (Luke 19:40), “If they keep quiet, the rocks will cry out.”
Hunger for political power and policies of appeasement eventually destroyed the Temple, and Israel. Jesus’ warnings were ignored. Instead of aiming to please God, the people of Israel sought to placate Rome, behavior which drove Jesus to tears.
The people wanted a conquering King, but God had sent Christ, a savior with “Kingly Authority.” Instead of a warring King, God had sent “The King of Peace.”
In Luke (19:11-27), within the “Parable of the King’s 10 servants,” there are lessons regarding the stewardship of our gifts. Christ uses this parable to raise four questions in preparation for the Palm Sunday drama: “Do you want God’s Kingdom to grow?” “Do you trust God to govern it fairly?” “Are you as concerned for others’ welfare as you are for your own?” and “Are you willing to faithfully use what He has entrusted to you?”
The Lord needs our gifts to build up His kingdom. We must trust Him to govern our lives. We must commit to caring for others as we do for ourselves. We must be willing to faithfully use our gifts for God even in ways we don’t like, or find uncomfortable. Finally, we, too, must untie and release our inner colt, “Because the Lord needs it!”
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at 6001 NW 8th Ave., Miami. To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or email the pastor at email@example.com.