By Michael E. Brooks
“Now when they drew near Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples; and He said to them, ‘Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it. And if anyone says to you, ‘why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it,’ and immediately he will send it here'” (Mark 11:1-3).
A group of about 20 Americans were in Mabaruma, Guyana, in the interior jungle near the Venezuela border, for a campaign. We were staying at a lodge near the town, but walking each day to an American Indian village 3 miles away. We would teach and visit all day, then hold a tent meeting at night. By the time we finished it was 9:00 or 10:00 p.m., and then we would walk back to the lodge.
For some reason we were short of flashlights. One night we were coming back with only 2 small lights in the whole group. I loaned mine to one of the others and over the course of the walk we became separated. At one point a trail led down the hill into the thick jungle, where some of the local members lived. Two of these, a young brother and sister, were with the group and when they left the road to go on to their home they were given the light. The man I had loaned the light to later explained, “They needed it; I could not let them go through the dark path without it.”
Need is compelling. It is very difficult to refuse the hungry, sick, or suffering person the things that will bring relief and comfort. This is as it should be. John asked, “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). One true test of humanity is the ability to feel compassion for those in need, and to respond with appropriate help.
From the opposite perspective, one proof of Jesus’ humanity was his ability to be in need. God is entirely self-sufficient. He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, eternal, and infinite. “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is he worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things” (Acts 17:24,25). Yet Jesus instructed the disciples to ask for the colt on the basis that “the Lord has need of it.” While in his earthly body, Jesus ate, drank, rested, and suffered just as all other humans do. He had, and expressed, need.
In another sense Jesus still has needs. These are not for his own life and wellbeing, but rather, for the fulfillment of his and his Father’s purpose. They have chosen to depend upon human resources for the task of bringing salvation to this world. This does not reflect inadequacy on the part of Divinity, but is another occasion of Divine grace to mankind. He chooses to use humans, to give them true purpose and meaning in life, by putting them to service in his cause.
My friend in Guyana found it impossible to deny two young persons a flashlight that they needed for safety and comfort. Do we find it difficult to deny Jesus that which he needs? Mark goes on to record that the disciples were confronted when they untied the colt. Someone asked, “What are you doing, loosing the colt?” (Mark 11:5). When they gave Jesus’ answer, Mark says, “So they let them go” (Mark 11:6).
What does Jesus need from us? There are many answers, but consider these few. He needs our material resources of money, property, time, talent, and opportunity (Acts 4:32-35). He needs our person –- our lives and bodies (Colossians 3:3; Galatians 2:27; Romans 12:1). And Jesus needs our influence (1 Timothy 4:12). When we give these things completely to him we become his servants and disciples (Matthew 16:24).
As much as Jesus needs us, we need him far more. We need his love, his compassion, and especially his merciful sacrifice for our sins. He is always present for us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16). Let us remember to respond to his need for us with the same diligence and concern.
By Michael E. Brooks