Do you like . . . stuff?

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Mark 11:1-11

11 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”

All the colt’s owner needed to hear was “the Lord needs it”.

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

I have a problem. Well… many but this story relates to one in particular. Maybe it’s a problem that you share too. My problem is that I can be a little bit too attached to my stuff. You see, while I am not the cleanest fellow around, when I get a possession I care about or something new, I try to take very good care of it. Growing up, my dad was very particular with his home and his stuff so I come by it fairly honestly. When kids come to my house, I worry about them touching the walls, denting the furniture or wrecking my stuff. I also worry about money. I like to have some in the bank. My wife, Lina, thinks I’m stingy. I like to think I’m careful.

Okay, you’re thinking, what’s wrong with that? Nothing wrong with being careful! But that’s not the problem. The problem is my attitude. At Xcell church, where we attend, we like to pull some money together to help those in need or if our church member has a family member die etc. So I give but sometimes, if there are bills to pay or our money’s low, it isn’t that willingly. Maybe you find it hard to pay tithe, or get frustrated when your spouse signs up to some charity giving plan. Lina, being of Pacific Island background, has an inbred sense of duty towards her immediate family. While I admire the generosity of spirit, sometimes I struggle to be a cheerful giver. Yet I wonder how the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills feels, when I, who have been blessed with so much, choose things over people. I wonder how Jesus, who spent everything He had, to His last drop of blood, to get here and buy us back, thinks of my attachment to the things He has given. I know, right?

In this story, Jesus needs a colt. I am amazed at the response of those He borrows it from. If I came out and saw someone getting into my car, I would require a little more explanation than “the Lord needs it. We’ll bring it back.” I think I’d be a bit cynical, have to ask a few questions, drive them myself to where they needed to go. But here the colt is given willingly. Giving myself a bit of credit, maybe if Jesus asked for it I’d give him my car. But what about the needy, the charities, the work of the Church, our offerings—aren’t those things giving to Jesus as well? I realised while reading this passage that I am a little too attached to my stuff, which has been given by God anyway! All the colt’s owner needed to hear was “the Lord needs it”. 

Not only that, there was a promise implicit in the message the disciples were to deliver—It will be returned. I truly believe that if we use ourselves and our stuff for God, it will be returned. Maybe not in the same way as it went but we have to have faith and let it go. There are so many verses in the Bible that relate to this topic. God says test me and see if the floodgates don’t open. Jesus says we can store up our treasures in heaven (it will be paid back later). Seek first the Kingdom and everything else will fall into place. Test God and see if He doesn’t pull through for you. If He owns it already, why are we so eager to hold onto stuff? Don’t worry about the little stuff like clothes and food. God will provide. It will come back.

This story is not just about being willing to give up your possessions for the use of the King. This story is a fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy (Zechariah 9:9). It’s gone down in history for all to read. What a famous donkey! You never know how your generosity will end up. The investment you make will come to bloom if used in the King’s service and you might end up owning the most famous donkey in history. Or you might just live a freer life, less attached to your stuff. Give it a go and give it up to God.