“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.”
Today, Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday, is the end of Ordinary time that began following Epiphany and is the gateway to Lent. Today it also corresponds in our Bible reading plan to Luke’s account of Christ’s triumphal entry to Jerusalem. Today’s reflection from Alan Rudnick concerns the Triumphal Entry and references Palm Sunday, near the end of Lent, but we will enjoy it here in anticipation of the joys to come in the Lenten season.
Reflection: The Untied Donkey
By Alan Rudnick
This donkey was born for Jesus’ wonderful work. It had not been used or ridden by anyone else. This donkey was tied up so that it could not wander away or be taken by someone else. It was waiting for Jesus to climb on to ride.
The colt (polos) has royal associations. Jesus’ riding the donkey echoes Zechariah’s prophecy. Nevertheless, to modern readers the donkey seems to be an unlikely and surprising device for Jesus’ use. That is because we see donkeys primarily as work animals capable of carrying heavy loads, or as docile creatures used for children’s rides, but certainly not as the animals of choice to transport triumphant kings.
In the ancient world, however, donkeys were used for ceremonial purposes. Whereas horses were symbols of war, donkeys were symbols of peace and often used to enact treaties.
This donkey was created for a purpose and was meant for Jesus. It was tied; it needed to be untied. Why does Luke emphasize this several times? There is an insight here.
We are often tied aren’t we? We are tied down by many things—by guilt, anxiety, and concern. Some of us are tied down with the need to forgive, but we cannot bring ourselves to do it. Others are tied down to obsessions or chemical dependence. We may be tied down to our smartphones and tablets, and be unable to put those devices down. Some need to let go and not be afraid to show love, peace, faith, joy, or the gospel to others. As Christians, we need to be untied from what weighs us down.
We need to be free to experience Jesus in our lives. We are meant to ride with Jesus: to follow him on his journey to Jerusalem, the Holy City, the city where God dwells. We were created with a purpose: to love God and love each other.
We cannot fully commit to God when we are tied. We must be released. We must surrender our burdens and our weights to God, much like the owner who surrendered his donkey to the two disciples.
By relinquishing our own burdens, we can praise and worship God freely. When we are untied, we can live a life of faith free from the pressure of trying to hold things up. When we are free, we can praise God without any hindrance.
Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. — Psalm 92.12
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Because we have been justified by faith we have the joy of entering into a season of reflection by God’s mercy. Together we fast. Together we engage. Together we serve.
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