April 08, 2017

Untamed Colts

Matthew 21:1-7

Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.

—  Matthew 21:2

On this day before Palm Sunday, let’s look at the almost overlooked little animal that is so important to Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Jesus tells his disciples to go into the village, untie a donkey and her colt, and bring them to him. Mark and Luke describe it as a colt that “no one has ever ridden” (Mark 11:2; Luke 19:30). And selecting a donkey’s colt, Matthew explains, fulfills a prophecy (Zechariah 9:9). Riding a donkey’s colt identifies the rider as coming in peace.

What’s striking is how that donkey, never before ridden, submitted to Jesus without resisting. Even the loud “Hosanna” shouts of the people seemed to have no impact on this animal. Such unnatural behavior of this donkey’s foal is as instructive as it is miraculous. Our God has dominion over all of his creation.

Did Jesus look for the same submission from his disciples—total surrender to the Master? Paul wrote later, “I urge you . . . in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1). Perhaps our thinking about this colt should prompt us to ask whether we’re submissive to the Lord. Or do we tend to act as might be expected of a stubborn donkey, braying in protest and pulling against the lead?

Lord, Master of all nature, lead us gently to surrender to your control, submitting our hearts, our minds, and our very lives to your perfect will. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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