Do you remember how Jesus acquired the use of the donkey for the most important parade ever—as he entered Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday? I would love to have been the proverbial “fly on the wall” to see the look on the faces of the owners of that donkey when the disciples just walked up and started to untie it. As I was re-reading that story, it dawned on me that lots of us have things tied up, too, and if we’d untie them, they’d be of service to our Lord.
Let me read that passage from Luke 19 that tells this story about the donkey:
After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”
Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They replied, “The Lord needs it.” They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road (Luke 19:28-36).
This happened just a week before the crucifixion. It’s a really interesting scene, when you think about it. Jesus chose that colt to ride in his one and only parade. He knew where it was, he knew that it had never been ridden, and he knew what the reaction of the owners of the colt would be. How could he know all this? Because he is God, and though he was fully man in his 33 years on earth, he was nonetheless fully God, and God is all-knowing.
Interesting that the disciples evidently did not question Jesus’ instructions. But then, after three years with him, they should have been very certain that what Jesus told them could be totally trusted. However, it had to take a little bit of nerve to walk up to this colt and start untying it. You have to give those disciples credit for their faith and obedience in this matter.
As they were untying the colt, the owners approached them. Why there was more than one owner, I don’t know, except I can guess that neither could afford the colt himself, so they formed a partnership and bought it together. Could it be that these owners were poor people without a great deal of this world’s possessions? Quite possibly. I doubt that a donkey’s colt was a very prestigious animal. Not what kings and wealthy people chose for transportation. But likely it was all these simple owners could afford.
I can also imagine that they were a little perturbed to see two strangers taking their prized colt—evidently a young colt, since it had never been ridden. Can you put yourselves in their shoes? I wonder if they screamed at the disciples: “Why are you untying our colt?” I wonder if they were upset? I think I would have been.
At any rate, when the disciples explained that Jesus had requested to use this colt, this one particular colt, it seems to put an end to the entire discussion. Without another question, they give the colt to the disciples for Jesus to use. I have to believe they had heard about Jesus. I’m sure most everyone in the area had by that time.
Perhaps they had heard him speak at some time; maybe they’d seen him heal someone or cast out a demon. Their willingness to let go of a valuable possession so unquestioningly leads me to believe that Jesus was someone they knew about, someone they respected, perhaps even loved.
As I read this story, I thought, “What do I have tied up that the Lord wants to use?” I think many times we’ve got resources and abilities that God would use in his service, but they’re all tied up. We’re using them for our own selfish purposes, or failing to use them at all perhaps, instead of giving them back to God for his eternal purposes.
Think about your resources. For example, your home or your apartment. Is it tied up, or do you use it for the Lord? You may say, “Well, my place is real small and it’s not furnished very well.” Or, “I’m not a great cook and I don’t know how to entertain.” You know, that colt was not first-class transportation. It wasn’t a chariot or a thoroughbred. But Jesus chose that particular animal and rode it at the front of a parade. And I think the reason he chose it was because it was available.
You’ve heard it said that the greatest ability is availability, and how true it is. God isn’t interested in the size or splendor of your home or your culinary skills. He just wants you to untie what you have so that he can use it in glorious ways for eternal purposes.
Your home is a resource that can be used to build friendships, to encourage people, to show love and caring for others. It can offer a shelter for others. It can be a great tool in the hands of the Lord, if it’s not all tied up.
I think of a good friend of mine who has a lovely home here in the suburbs of Chicago. She and her husband have no children, but they are always sharing their home with others. I remember once when they kept a teenage boy whose father died and whose mother was hospitalized with serious depression.
Barbara and Roger shared their home with that young boy, giving him love and helping him adjust during that difficult period. That resource—their home—was used for eternal purposes, not just something for them to enjoy. Oh, it had a price tag to it. They lost their privacy and it wasn’t easy to become a temporary parent of a teenager overnight. But they paid that price because their home is given back to God for him to use.
How about your money? Is it all tied up so there’s none for the Lord? So few Christians have ever learned the joy of giving their money back to God. In this money-crazed society, most of us are scared to death to part with our money. We want it for what it can do for us, for security, for comfort.
My father was always a wonderful example to me of generosity. Dad had the gift of giving, and all his life he gave away his money. I think the more he gave away, the more he enjoyed doing it. He and Mom were not slaves to money. Though they never had very much money by the world’s standards, they were most generous in giving to others. I thank God for that role model.
Maybe you’re saying, “Look, I just barely have enough as it is.” I dare say the owners of that colt had to sacrifice to be without their animal while Jesus used it. It might have represented their life’s savings. But they gave it. Even if you feel as though there’s none to give, you need to untie some of your money and give it to God.
Wherever you put your money, that’s where your real interest is. Where’s your money? Bank accounts? Investments? Paying bills for luxuries for yourself? If that’s where you put your money, that’s where your heart is. When you see a Christian who gives money to God’s work, who invests in missions and in helping others, you see someone whose heart is fixed on eternity, who is storing up treasures in heaven. The reverse is also true. A Christian who invests their money solely in things of this earth will have little heart for things of God.
What have you got tied up—perhaps your time? Is it all occupied with other priorities of lesser importance? I’m amazed to see how many of us tie our time up with absolutely useless activities. I think of a former neighbor who spent all her time playing golf. I think of a friend who has her time completely occupied with all sorts of meetings and clubs and associations. Are these things wrong? No, not unless they completely tie up our time with no eternal value to show for them.
Because that colt was available, he carried the Lord of heaven and earth in his one and only earthly processional! Had his owners insisted they could not let him go because they had other plans to use him that day, they would have missed this most incredible opportunity. What better way for their colt to be used than to carry the Son of God on its back? Could they have ever guessed that their simple animal would have such an honor?
What would God be doing with your time for eternal value if you untied it and gave it to him? What excuses are you using for not giving God the time you should? I think many of us are going to stand before the Lord in wide-eyed astonishment when he tells us what he wanted to do with us and through us, if we’d been willing to untie our time and allow him to have it.
What about your abilities and talents? Are they all tied up? God has given all of us various gifts and abilities. For some it is organizational abilities; for some it is leadership. Others are gifted musically. Some are great teachers; some are good at bookkeeping and administrative tasks. The list is practically endless.
But so often I see Christians with wonderful gifts and abilities that they use for their own profit in the business world, but they don’t contribute one iota of that ability to God’s work. It amazes me to see people with various gifts who feel it’s an imposition to ask them to use that gift for the Lord. They get paid for it on their job, and they have an attitude that it’s not proper to ask them to give away that talent.
There’s no question that our churches and Christian organizations suffer because so few people are willing to untie their abilities and give them back to the Lord. We have to stop and remind ourselves of what Paul told the Corinthians, that we have nothing that we didn’t receive. Any talent or ability any of us has is strictly a gift from God to us. Hopefully we’ve developed that resource as we should, but it is nonetheless God’s gift to us. What makes us act as though it’s ours to do with as we please?
What have you got tied up today that God wants to use? Your home, your money, your time, your talents and abilities? Are you willing to untie them and give them back to the Lord?
Let me tell you that when you do that, the joy of the Lord floods your life. If you’ve been hoarding those things for your own use, you’ve been missing out on the greatest thrill and joy in life. And that is to see how God will use what you have if you’ll simply untie it.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be fancy or splendid. All that God asks for is availability. That donkey colt was not a great thing. It was a humble thing to give to the Lord. But look what the Lord did with that humble donkey: He sat on its back and rode it into Jerusalem in the most important processional this world has ever seen!
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get to heaven and discover that God had great and mighty plans to use me which never came to pass because everything I had was tied up and unavailable. Oh, friends, could we but get an eternal viewpoint and understand that this world is very temporary. Even if Christ does not return soon and we live to ripe old ages of 100, it is a very short span compared to eternity. Why are we so wrapped up in things that have no eternal value? Why do we have all our resources focused on a few short years of our earthly life, when we could be untying them and using them for God’s eternal purposes?
What have you got tied up today that Jesus wants to use?