Summary: In Luke 19:31-34 we see a man give permission for Jesus to use his donkey. In this small act, he was able to play a role in what God was doing on the earth. Will we surrender all because "the Lord needs it" and be a tool in His hand as well?
Have you ever been in a situation where you really needed some help? The situation had just gotten out of hand. It was too difficult, too painful, you were trapped and there was nothing you could do about it. You really needed someone who could come into your situation and make things right. That had often been the situation with the Jews of the Old Testament. Whether in bondage to the Egyptians, the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, or even their own corrupt leaders they found themselves many times in a situation of oppression that they could do nothing about. They needed a Deliverer.
God had promised a Deliverer but He seemed to never come. In the Old Testament, there are various prophecies concerning a Savior, a Messiah, a Promised One who would come to deliver the Jews. These prophecies were embedded in the hearts of the Jewish people. Throughout the centuries the hope of a Messiah was their strength in times of suffering, defeat, and exile.
In the days before Jesus, the people were under the brutal rule of the Roman Empire. This caused them to desire even more for their Messiah, their Deliverer. We read of different men during this time in history who would rise up and gain a group of followers. People would begin to hope that these men could be the Promised One. But then he would either be killed or discredited and the people would return to what seemed to be endless waiting. Life was unbearable under the Romans, but what other option did they have? In the days following Jesus' birth, they had no idea that in the city of Nazareth the promised Messiah had already arrived.
As we read the story of Jesus Christ we see how He began His public ministry at the age of 30. It was characterized by teaching like no one had ever heard. He blessed the children, gave forgiveness to those caught in sin, and even related to those who society turned their backs upon. His ministry was confirmed by the working of signs and miracles. The blind received sight, the lame walked, those who had leprosy were cured, the deaf heard, the dead were raised, and the good news was preached to the poor. Many people believed and followed Him.
All of this was preparing the way for Christ’s stated reason for coming. Jesus had come to seek and save the lost and that would only be accomplished once He died on the cross for our sins and was raised back to life. One week before His crucifixion and resurrection there was a special event that we are told about in Luke 19:28-38.
The story describes Jesus walking down from the Mount of Olives, through the Kidron Valley, and entering the city of Jerusalem. Jews, by the thousands, had assembled in Jerusalem for the celebration of the upcoming Passover. As Jesus approached the city cheers went up and people began to come out and meet Him, praising Him as the promised Messiah. He rode on a donkey and the people laid down their cloaks on the road before Him and waved Palm branches in His honor.
If we will observe the culture of that day and the scriptures of the Old Testament we can begin to understand much more about this story. An animal that had never been ridden or worked was often used for sacred purposes. (1 Sam. 6:7; Num. 19:2; Deut. 21.3) So it was for the donkey colt that Christ rode. A conquering king would enter a city riding a horse. A king coming in peace would ride a donkey. (Matt. 21:2; 1 Kings 1:33-34) Jesus had not come to be an earthly, military king who would free the Jews from Rome. He came as an eternal king, the Prince of Peace who would free many from the condemnation and slavery of sin.
Zechariah 9:9 reads, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. “
It had been prophesied but the people did not recognize the signs. Jesus Christ was truly King, but not the type they had expected. The laying of cloaks, robes, and palm branches was clearly a sign of Kingship. (2 Kings 9:12-13; Psalm 7:9) It was a dangerous statement to be making at that time in history, but it was the time that God had set and the end was drawing near.
We could focus on different lessons in this story, but let’s turn our attention to verses 31-34 for a moment. It concerns the colt that Jesus had requested to make this whole story possible. As Jesus had approached Jerusalem he had asked two of His disciples to go to a nearby village where they would find a colt donkey. They were instructed to untie it and bring it to Jesus. If anyone asked why they were taking it they were to tell him, “The Lord needs it.” That is exactly how it happened. They went and when the owner asked why the disciples were untying it they merely said, “The Lord needs it,” and the owner let them take it. We don’t know what the owner’s name was or anything else about him. We only know that the one phrase was sufficient. “The Lord needs it.” At this moment an obscure unknown man who owned a donkey was invited to fulfill century-old prophecies and to be a part of the story of God on earth.