TA-DA! The winner of the drawing for Carol Kent’s Between a Rock and a Grace Place is Crissie Schofield. Congratulations to you, Crissie. And thank you to the others who put their name in the hat. Crissie, I know Carol’s book will be a blessing for you!
For today’s blog: In my reading of Matthew, I came across, “As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.” (21:1-3).
As I read these verses, I had a strong reaction of tension. I put myself in the place of the two chosen disciples and wondered if my reaction to Jesus’ instructions would have been:
“Are you sure it’s all worked out? Wonder if they don’t know what this is about? I don’t want to do something wrong. Wonder if they arrest me for stealing? Are you sure it’s OK? When did you exactly work on this? Maybe they’ve forgotten. I’ve been with you the whole time and never saw you talk to anyone there. Are you sure?”
I have to admit that I often argue with Jesus’ instructions. I also find doing some common things hard to do. I may not actually think I’m arguing with God, but I really am. I may think I’m arguing with myself or with Larry, or whoever, but I’m actually arguing with God if He is the one who is directing my life.
For instance, I want Larry to make the phone calls to follow up on anything that goes wrong. The computer has a glitch? “Larry, please call the computer tech.” I just don’t like anything that even smells of conflict or technical difficulties. I just seem to get it all wrong. If I’d been the disciple going for the donkey, I would have concluded, “Just wait. I’ll be the one who picks the wrong donkey.” And Jesus will say, “Can’t you do anything right? I only asked you to get the silly donkey.”
I was surprised when I wrote that statement from Jesus. Do I really think He would say that to me? Do I really think He would pour contempt on me? Is that really what I think of Jesus–especially if I were to make a mistake? I have to remind myself of Jesus’ reaction to Peter denying Him three times. Jesus gave Peter an opportunity to express his love and never once made fun of him or even tried to make his mistake into a lesson for others. No, Jesus would not pour contempt.
Will I continue to argue with God or will I claim His promise that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)? Even call the tech guy and have to admit “I have no idea what you’re telling me to do.” But y’know? The last tech guy I called patiently walked me through it and was marvelous. Oh, me, of little faith.
By the way, The IVP New Testament Commentary gives an interesting comment on that passage, “Whether or not the owner is a disciple, he has heard of Jesus, and Jesus foreknows his response; this testifies first of all to the man’s respect for Jesus. More important, the passage testifies to Jesus’ foreknowledge.”
It also says, “…that he would have prearranged the situation with the man without the knowledge of his disciples-who would have been his agents-is unlikely; compare 26:18.”
The Commentary continues says, “Thus Matthew is making a statement not so much about possessions here as about Christ: as the rightful King he has the right to anything in creation, certainly among his people.”
Whether or not the two chosen disciples had any trepidation about going to get the donkey, I don’t know. But I’m going to remember them the next time I start to argue with God (even if it’s through another person). If God is calling me to do something, like steal a donkey, oh, I mean, borrow a donkey, then I can be confident He foreknows everything about it.