Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

Taking a Donkey

The disciples are an interesting bunch. I especially appreciate how the Gospel writers honestly reveal their inadequacies. There is no attempt to gloss over their failures. At the same time, we witness their tremendous faith in other places. I was reading from Matthew 21:1-11 this week and noticed a profound statement.

Jesus is very close to the cross in this chapter. As is often the case, Jesus gives his disciples instructions.

(Matthew 21:1-2 NIV) As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “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.

This may seem like a strange request. To find a donkey tied might not be out of the ordinary, but would this not indicate that someone owned the donkey? Are they just supposed to just walk away with someone’s property? Jesus anticipates their questions and gives further instructions.

(Matthew 21:3 NIV) If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

In the next two verses (4-5), Matthew indicates that Jesus is fulfilling the words of the prophet Zechariah. But when the disciples are making their way into town to find the donkey, I am not sure they fully understood. Yet they don’t seem to question Jesus. In verse 6, we see a simple description.

(Matthew 21:6 NIV) The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.

This had not always been the case. Certainly, they did their best to follow their rabbi’s guidance. But time and time again, they go their own way, make rash and irresponsible decisions. But by now, they had learned that Jesus does not always explain his intentions. He is often full of surprises. So they merely follow his assignment.

Matthew 21:6 is a short statement of great faith. We will often hear God’s voice leading us in peculiar ways. It doesn’t equate. Why would God lead us in this direction? We don’t always have answers. But in the end, our job is to simply obey. May we, like the disciples, go and do just as we are instructed. As we continue to function as a discerning people, may we be willing to step out even when we don’t understand. May we be willing to venture into vague places as we follow the calling of Jesus.