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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A Worshipful Splurge (Prayer Devotional for the week of November 16, 2014)

I don’t splurge on very many things, but I have a bottle of perfume that cost about $40 on sale, which is expensive, in my book. I justify paying so much because I can make a single bottle stretch for a couple of years. The other morning while getting ready for work, I applied some hand lotion, and instead of waiting to let it soak in and dry, I immediately reached for that bottle of perfume, and it slipped right through my greasy fingers!

 

Thankfully, it landed in a basket in an open drawer and did not bust. I would have been disappointed to waste it, not to mention having to deal with cleaning up the mess. My whole house would probably smell girly, much to my sons’ chagrin! As I finished getting ready (more carefully!), I thought about a perfume story that I remembered from the Bible.

 

All four gospels give some account of a woman anointing Jesus with expensive perfume (see Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 7, & John 12). We’re not talking $40 type of expensive, either. The Bible says that this special perfume cost about a year’s income! Maybe some people nowadays would spend that kind of money on a fancy car or an original masterpiece of art, but I can’t imagine anything other than a house that most people would pay so much for.

 

Anointing usually involves pouring oil on one’s head, and Matthew and Mark bring attention to the extraordinary cost of the perfume as she anointed Jesus, but Luke and John share some additional details that I find remarkable. John mentions that the woman also anointed Jesus’ feet, then wiped off the perfume with her own hair. Luke adds that she was crying while she anointed his feet, and she wiped off her tears and the perfume with her hair.

 

You and I may not have the means to give extravagant financial offerings to the Lord, but each of us can give him things that are even more important: our love and our lives. The perfume anointing was an outward display of the woman’s heartfelt worship. In the same way, we can offer the Lord our sold-out hearts in worship every day.