“If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’”
Years ago, one of the young men on our church worship team regularly used this incident in Jesus’ life to tease me. I had a Taylor acoustic guitar and (even though he was primarily a drummer) he really wanted one. When I’d take it out of the case he’d say something like, “You should give me that guitar.” When I’d ask why, he’d smile and say, “The Lord has need of it.” I’d just smile back and say, “He hasn’t said anything to me about it.” We’d both chuckle, and then get back to practice.
Frankly, I’ve always been a bit puzzled by this passage. Jesus sends two of his disciples into a town with instructions to untie the first donkey colt they see and bring it to Him. He instructs them what to say if they’re questioned. They follow Jesus’ instructions and are indeed confronted (probably by the donkey’s owners) about what they’re doing. When they reply, “The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately,” the men drop their objections.
I’ve heard some teachers speculate that Jesus set this up in advance with the donkey’s owners, knowing when and how He would be entering Jerusalem. While I admit it’s possible, that just doesn’t seem like Jesus’ style. Others are just amazed by the “blind faith” shown by the donkey’s owners. Just because these two men say, “The Lord has need of it,” they’re willing to let them walk off with the donkey! Talk about blind faith!
Well, I think this story does teach us about faith, but not “blind” faith.
Consider the disciples’ faith. Jesus is asking them to do a very strange thing, but they don’t hesitate. They had faith in Jesus, but it wasn’t a “blind” faith. Their faith was based on evidence. For three years they had walked with Jesus and He had never steered them wrong. Their faith in Him was built on a solid foundation of who Jesus was and all He’d done.
Consider the faith of the donkey’s owners. This even takes either in Bethphage, a village very near Bethany where some of Jesus’ closest friends (Lazarus, Mary, and Martha) lived. I think it’s safe to speculate that Jesus (and probably His disciples) would have been known in this area. The people would have been familiar with His miracles and His character. When the donkey’s owners heard that Jesus needed this animal and wouldl return it when He’s finished, they knew they could trust His word. Their faith was built on solid evidence too.
I think about it like this. If I found two strangers in my driveway, trying to start my car, I’d certainly confront them. If their response was, “‘Joe’ needs it and he’ll send it back when he’s done,” I’d probably respond, “Who’s Joe?” Then I’d call the police. However, if I saw two guys from our church in my driveway trying to start my car and they said, “Pastor Jeff needs your car and he’ll send it back when he’s done,” I’d toss them the keys.
What’s the difference?
I know my pastor. He’s demonstrated that he’s a man of God who can be trusted. I know his integrity. If he needs my car, he’s welcome to it. If he had to send two guys to pick it up (instead of coming himself) he must have a good reason. If he says he’ll return it when he’s finished, I know he will. My faith in Pastor Jeff is built on years of evidence of his character.
My faith in Jesus – in His goodness, mercy, grace, and provision – isn’t a “blind” faith. My faith is built on the solid evidence of His character as I’ve seen it in the scriptures and as I’ve experienced it in my life over and over again. He has demonstrated so many times that I can trust Him. I have no reason to doubt Him and every reason to trust Him.
Thank you, Father, for giving me a faith that is based on evidence and the sure foundation of Your Son, Jesus!