Matthew 21

Read Matthew 21.

Wouldn’t it be nice if your car or truck could just give birth? Instead of buying a new one, you could just breed the one you have and instantly have a new vehicle, a new way to move stuff around.

That is one advantage that animals have over machines.

Here in Matthew 21:2, Jesus commands the disciples to go find a donkey and her colt. The colt, we know from Luke, has never been ridden. It still has that “new colt smell.” The family who owned these animals must have been pleased to have this new one. Maybe they had a teenager who was looking forward to riding the old one around without having to share it with mom and dad.

Or, maybe I just injected my own story into the biblical narrative a bit.

Anyway, along came the disciples of Jesus. They saw the colt and donkey tied up, just as Jesus said (cf. vv. 2, 6) so they untied them, just as Jesus commanded them to do (cf. vv. 2, 6).

This was not a case of “Grand Theft Animal,” however. In Jesus’s world, it was acceptable for a rabbi or someone else with authority to borrow resources from other people. Usually, though, a person would ask before borrowing someone else’s property. Jesus did not tell the disciples to ask. He told them to “Untie them and bring them to me” (v. 2e).

When the owner inevitably asked the disciples what they were doing (Lu 19:33-34), Jesus had already instructed them not to ask but to tell the owner, “…the Lord needs them” (v. 3b). Some owners might have said, “Well, then, shouldn’t the Lord ask to borrow them?” But that was not the response in this case. Instead, Jesus said the owner would “send them right away” (v. 3c).

This was an act of lordship. Jesus Christ commanded his disciples to commandeer the colt so that he could use it to fulfill God’s word (vv. 4-5). We believe in and the Bible teaches the right of private ownership of property. The stuff you own is yours. You have the right to use it or lend it or do whatever you want with it.

But God is the ultimate owner of everything and that means he owns what you own. Your home, your car, your money, and any other resources you have ultimately belong to him. As followers of Jesus Christ, you and I should want the Lord to take what we have if he’s going to use it for his kingdom and glory.

It is unlikely that the Lord or one of his disciples will show up and take your car. But, think about this passage in terms of Matthew 25:31-46. I’ll quote a few verses of it right here:

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25:37-40

Lending or using your resources to help or refresh the Lord’s servants is an act of service to the Lord himself. It is as if Christ himself came to take your colt and you willingly, gladly handed it over when you help one of God’s people. And, when you and I volunteer to help someone and generously lend or use what you have without expecting any return, you will be blessed by the Father (Matt 25:34).

How is the state of your heart when it comes to generosity? If you have a chance to help someone today, even if it is inconvenient or costly, think about this passage. The Lord has the right to take and use our stuff so let’s look for ways to be useful for him to anyone who has a need we can meet.

1 Chronicles 7-8, Zechariah 4, Proverbs 26:17-28

Today read 1 Chronicles 7-8, Zechariah 4, and Proverbs 26:17-28. This devotional is about Zechariah 4.

God was moving his people back to Jerusalem in the days of Zechariah and, in this chapter, the Lord sent some encouragement to the leaders. Zerubbabel was the leader in charge of rebuilding God’s temple (v. 9) and he is the leader named in this chapter. 

When the people returned to Jerusalem, they were poor. They had an immense amount of work to do rebuilding the city and the temple; but the resources they had to do that work were minuscule.

A massive job to do and few resources to use are the perfect prescription for discouragement.

God sent Zechariah to Zerubbabel to remind him that he had the ultimate resource in God. How would he be able to rebuild that temple? “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty” (v. 6). The natural, financial, and human resources  at Zerubbabel’s disposal were few but only resource he needed was spiritual, the power of almighty God. 

As a result, neither Zerubbabel nor God’s people should give up or be discouraged by meager beginnings. As verse 10 says, “Who dares despise the day of small things….” Everything that exists once started as something small and modest. Every large church, for example, was once a small church; indeed, it was once merely the idea and desire of a small group of people. If God is in the project, it will not be stopped; if he is not in it, it will not ultimately succeed. 

Are you ever tempted to look at your ministry or your life or something else that belongs to God and think, “This is never going to amount to anything!” Verse 10 would rebuke you: “Who dares despise the day of small things…?” Trust God that the desire to serve him matters. Your resources may be few and the beginning may be humble but God is more than powerful enough to make something great.