When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.'” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
While we are much more accustomed to hearing this text as one of the opening gospels for the Palm Sunday liturgy, today we hear that Jesus and his disciples are approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives. Mark suggests that Jesus has done some advance planning for his entrance into the city. He sends two unnamed disciples on a mission and the instructions are very simple and very clear, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.'” Jesus has arranged for the colt and anticipates that his disciples will have to respond to people who may be watching the animal. The disciples pose no questions about going to do this odd thing and there is no mention of any conversation on the matter.
A theme running through Mark’s gospel is the authority with which Jesus does everything. We find that the two disciples do exactly as they are instructed, and taking on Jesus’ authority respond to the challenge of bystanders, are allowed to take the colt to Jesus. The disciples trust what Jesus has told them and asked of them. They know that Jesus only speaks the truth. We live in a world that tends to question everything and demand explanations. But trust and faith are in the realm of God. Today we come to understand that when Jesus calls us, the request may sound impractical or at times impossible, but we have to trust is his authority, his care and his plans for us. In these last weeks of Lent, may our trust in Jesus grow more and more.
‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His Word Just to rest upon His promise, Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!” Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to trust Him more! LEVAS-II: Hymn 108; text by Louisa M.R. Stead (1850-1917)