The Lord has need of ME?? (Prayer Devotional for the week of December 13, 2015)

In a passage frequently referred to as “Jesus’ Triumphant Entry” (see Mark 11, Luke 19, Matthew 21, & John 12), we read the story about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Here’s an excerpt from Mark’s account:

“As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it and will return it soon.’” (Mark 11:1-3, NLT)

 

If you’re like me, you may have heard that story so many times over the years that it feels very familiar, but let’s look a little more closely. First of all, a lot happened around Bethany in the New Testament, and this story is no exception. Bethany was the hometown of Lazarus, the raised-from-the-dead friend of Jesus (John 11:1); it is also where a woman anointed Jesus with expensive perfume (Matthew 26:6); and, it is the place where Jesus cursed a fig tree (Mark 11:12). Bethany is also where Jesus blessed his disciples after his resurrection, right before he ascended into heaven! (Luke 24:50-51)

 

Next, Jesus chose a donkey in fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9, but I find it interesting that God – in his wisdom and sense of humor – selected an untamed colt as his animal of preference. He could have specified any magnificent creature on earth, yet he chose a lowly, stubborn, beast of burden. (May we remember that little fact whenever we think too highly of ourselves in the Lord’s work – if he can use an untamed jackass … er, donkey … then who are we to think we’re so important?)

 

Lastly, Jesus instructed his disciples to respond to any inquiries by saying, “The Lord needs it.” This word for Lord is the Greek word Kyrios, which is translated “master.” In essence, the Master of the universe is asking to borrow a lowly, untamed donkey so that he can ride into the city where he will ultimately sacrifice himself on our behalf. Let that sink into your heart for a few moments.

 

God always has a reason for why he asks things of us. He does not demand them of us, but he gives us opportunities to partner with him in his work. Sometimes the things he asks of us don’t make any sense right then, and to be frank, they may not ever make sense in our lifetimes. But, one day, all will be revealed in his perfect, eternal timing. In the meantime, we are called simply to obey. The Lord has need of you … are you willing to serve?

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Buried with him (Prayer Devotional for the week of June 28, 2015)

Do you ever wonder what Lazarus’ life was like after Jesus raised him from the dead (John 11)? When I first read Don Piper’s book, 90 Minutes in Heaven, I was struck by the way he described the intense longing for heaven that he experienced after he was brought back to life an hour and a half after paramedics declared him dead at the scene of an automobile accident. How could anyone not want to return? Of course he was happy to be reunited with his family, and he learned to reevaluate God’s call on his second chance at life, but there was still a piece of him that wanted to go back.

Lazarus had been dead for days (verse 39) when Jesus ordered the tomb opened. I can only imagine the amazingly awesome heavenly things that he witnessed in that timeframe! Then, to be yanked back into his creaky old body – to eat, drink, work, live – only to die again at some point in the future … I wonder what he felt.

Lazarus was brought back to life by Christ himself, and then he had to watch his dear friend die on the cross. Can you imagine the roller coaster of feelings that Lazarus went through during Jesus’ death and leading up to his resurrection? Just, wow.

Something truly remarkable happened when Jesus died. (Actually, several somethings amazing happened, and I encourage you to read the whole scenario in Matthew 27.) At the moment Christ died, there was an earthquake, the temple curtain tore in half, and … people rose from the dead. Seriously, check it out in Matthew 27:51-53.

When we talk about being “buried with Christ” in our decision to follow him, it’s symbolic of our desire to give up our old, sinful lives and begin a new, different life with him. 2 Corinthians 5:17 describes it as becoming “a new creation.” This week, let’s pray through 1 Peter 1:3-9 and think about how astounding – how wonderful! – is his great love for us.
(Originally posted March 11, 2012)