Mark 11:3
And if any man say to you, Why do you this? say you that the Lord has need of him; and straightway he will send him here.
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Mark 11:3

You will remember that Jesus Christ sent two of His disciples into the village that looked down on the road from Bethany to Jerusalem, with minute instructions and information as to what they were to do and find there. The instructions may have one of two explanations-they suggest either superhuman knowledge or a previous arrangement. Perhaps, although it is less familiar to our thoughts, the latter is the explanation. There is a remarkable resemblance, in that respect, to another incident which lies close beside this one in time, when our Lord again sent two disciples to make preparation for the Passover, and, with similar minuteness, told them that they would find, at a certain point, a man bearing a pitcher of water. Him they were to accost, and he would take them to the room that had been prepared. Now the old explanation of both these incidents is that Jesus Christ knew what was going to happen. Another possible explanation, and in my view more probable and quite as instructive, is, that Jesus Christ had settled with the two owners what was to happen. Clearly, the owner of the colt was a disciple, because at once he gave up his property when the message was repeated, ‘the Lord hath need of him.’ Probably he had been one of the guests at the modest festival that had been held the night before, in the village close by, in Simon’s house, and had seen how Mary had expended her most precious possession on the Lord, and, under the influence of the resurrection of Lazarus, he, too, perhaps, was touched, and was glad to arrange with Jesus Christ to have his colt waiting there at the cross-road for his Master’s convenience. But, be that as it may, it seems to me that this incident, and especially these words that I have read for a text, carry very striking and important lessons for us, whether we look at them in connection with the incident itself, or whether we venture to give them a somewhat wider application. Let me take these two points in turn.

I. Now, what strikes one about our Lord’s requisitioning the colt is this, that here is a piece of conduct on His part singularly unlike all the rest of His life.

All through it, up to this last moment, His one care was to damp down popular enthusiasm, to put on the drag whenever there came to be the least symptom of it, to discourage any reference to Him as the Messiah-King of Israel, to shrink back from the coarse adulation of the crowd, and to glide quietly through the world, blessing and doing good. But now, at the end, He flings off all disguise. He deliberately sets Himself, at a time when popular enthusiasm ran highest and was most turbid and difficult to manage, at the gathering of the nation for the Passover in Jerusalem, to cast an effervescing element into the caldron. If He had planned to create a popular rising, He could not have done anything more certain to bring it about than what He did that morning when He made arrangements for a triumphal procession into the city, amidst the excited crowds gathered from every quarter of the land. Why did He do that? What was the meaning of it? Then there is another point in this requisitioning of the colt. He not only deliberately set Himself to stir up popular excitement, but He consciously did what would be an outward fulfilment of a great Messianic prophecy. I hope you are wiser than to fancy that Zechariah’s prophecy of the peaceful monarch who was to come to Zion, meek and victorious, and riding upon a ‘colt the foal of an ass,’ was fulfilled by the outward fact of Christ being mounted on this colt ‘whereon never man sat.’ That is only the shell, and if there had been no such triumphal entry, our Lord would as completely have fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy. The fulfilment of it did not depend on the petty detail of the animal upon which He sat when He entered the city, nor even on that entrance. The meaning of the prophecy was that to Zion, wherever and whatever it is, there should come that Messianic King, whose reign owed nothing to chariots and horses and weapons of war for its establishment, but who, meek and patient, pacing upon the humble animal used only for peaceful services, and not mounted on the prancing steed of the warrior, should inaugurate the reign of majesty and of meekness. Our Lord uses the external fact just as the prophet had used it, as of no value in itself, but as a picturesque emblem of the very spirit of His kingdom. The literal fulfilment was a kind of finger-post for inattentive onlookers, which might induce them to look more closely, and so see that He was indeed the King Messiah, because of more important correspondences with prophecy than His once riding on an ass. Do not so degrade these Old Testament prophecies as to fancy that their literal fulfilment is of chief importance. That is the shell: the kernel is the all-important thing, and Jesus Christ would have fulfilled the r? that was sketched for Him by the prophets of old, just as completely if there never had been this entrance into Jerusalem.

But, further, the fact that He had to borrow the colt was as significant as the choice of it. For so we see blended two things, the blending of which makes the unique peculiarity and sublimity of Christ’s life: absolute authority, and meekness of poverty and lowliness. A King, and yet a pauper-King! A King claiming His dominion, and yet obliged to borrow another man’s colt in order that He might do it! A strange kind of monarch!-and yet that remarkable combination runs through all His life. He had to be obliged to a couple of fishermen for a boat, but He sat in it, to speak words of divine wisdom. He had to be obliged to a lad in the crowd for barley loaves and fishes, but when He took them into His hands they were multiplied. He had to be obliged for a grave, and yet He rose from the borrowed grave the Lord of life and death. And so when He would pose as a King, He has to borrow the regalia, and to be obliged to this anonymous friend for the colt which made the emphasis of His claim. ‘Who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich.’

II. And now turn for a moment to the wider application of these words.

‘The Lord hath need of him.’ That opens the door to thoughts, that I cannot crowd into the few minutes that I have at my disposal, as to that great and wonderful truth that Christ cannot assume His kingdom in this world without your help, and that of the other people whose hearts are touched by His love. ‘The Lord hath need’ of them. Though upon that Cross of Calvary He did all that was necessary for the redemption of the world and the salvation of humanity as a whole, yet for the bearing of that blessing into individual hearts, and for the application of the full powers that are stored in the Gospel and in Jesus, to their work in the world, the missing link is man. We ‘are fellow-labourers with God.’ We are Christ’s tools. The instruments by which He builds His kingdom are the souls that have already accepted His authority. ‘The Lord hath need of him,’ though, as the psalmist sings, ‘If I were hungry I would not tell thee, for all the beasts of the forest are Mine.’ Yes, and when the Word was made flesh, He had need of one of the humblest of the beasts. The Christ that redeemed the world needs us, to carry out and to bring into effect His redemption. ‘God mend all,’ said one, and the answer was, ‘We must help Him to mend it.’

Notice again the authoritative demand, which does not contemplate the possibility of reluctance or refusal. ‘The Lord hath need of him.’ That is all. There is no explanation or motive alleged to induce surrender to the demand. This is a royal style of speech. It is the way in which, in despotic countries, kings lay their demands upon a poor man’s whole plenishing and possession, and sweep away all.

Jesus Christ comes to us in like fashion, and brushes aside all our convenience and everything else, and says, ‘I want you, and that is enough.’ Is it not enough? Should it not be enough? If He demands, He has the right to demand. For we are His, ‘bought with a price.’ All the slave’s possessions are his owner’s property. The slave is given a little patch of garden ground, and perhaps allowed to keep a fowl or two, but the master can come and say, ‘Now I want them,’ and the slave has nothing for it but to give them up.

‘The Lord hath need of him’ is in the autocratic tone of One who has absolute power over us and ours. And that power, where does it come from? It comes from His absolute surrender of Himself to us, and because He has wholly given Himself for us. He does not expect us to say one contrary word when He sends and says, ‘I have need of you, or of yours.’

Here, again, we have an instance of glad surrender. The last words of my text are susceptible of a double meaning. ‘Straightway he will send him hither’-who is ‘he’? It is usually understood to be the owner of the colt, and the clause is supposed to be Christ’s assurance to the two messengers of the success of their errand. So understood, the words suggest the great truth that Love loosens the hand that grasps possessions, and unlocks our treasure-houses. There is nothing more blessed than to give in response to the requirement of love. And so, to Christ’s authoritative demand, the only proper answer is obedience swift and glad, because it is loving. Many possibilities of joy and blessing are lost by us through not yielding on the instant to Christ’s demands. Hesitation and delay are dangerous. In ‘straightway’ complying are security and joy. If the owner had begun to say to himself that he very much needed the colt, or that he saw no reason why some one else’s beast should not have been taken, or that he would send the animal very soon, but must have the use of him for an hour or two first, he would probably never have sent him at all, and so would have missed the greatest honour of his life. As soon as I know what Christ wants from me, without delay let me do it; for if I begin with delaying I shall probably end with declining. The Psalmist was wise when he laid emphasis on the swiftness of his obedience, and said, ‘I made haste and delayed not, but made haste to keep Thy commandments.’

But another view of the words makes them part of the message to the owner of the colt, and not of the assurance to the disciples. ‘Say ye that the Lord hath need of him, and that straightway {when He has done with him} He will send him back again.’ That is a possible rendering, and I am disposed to think it is the proper one. By it the owner is told that he is not parting with his property for good and all, that Jesus only wishes to borrow the animal for the morning, and that it will be returned in the afternoon. What does that view of the words suggest to us? Do you not think that that colt, when it did come back-for of course it came back some time or other,-was a great deal more precious to its owner than it ever had been before, or ever could have been if it had not been lent to Christ, and Christ had not made His royal entry upon it? Can you not fancy that the man, if he was, as he evidently was, a disciple and lover of the Lord, would look at it, especially after the Crucifixion and the Ascension, and think, ‘What an honour to me, that I provided the mount for that triumphal entry!’? It is always so. If you wish anything to become precious, lend it to Jesus Christ, and when it comes back again, as it will come back, there will be a fragrance about it, a touch of His fingers will be left upon it, a memory that He has used it. If you desire to own yourselves, and to make yourselves worth owning, give yourselves to Christ. If you wish to get the greatest possible blessing and good out of possessions, lay them at His feet. If you wish love to be hallowed, joy to be calmed, perpetuated, and deepened, carry it to Him. ‘If the house be worthy, your peace shall rest upon it; if not,’ like the dove to the ark when it could find no footing in the turbid and drowned world, ‘it shall come back to you again. Straightway He will ‘send him back again,’ and that which I give to Jesus He will return enhanced, and it will be more truly and more blessedly mine, because I have laid it in His hands. This ‘altar’ sanctifies the giver and the gift.11:1-11 Christ's coming into Jerusalem thus remarkably, shows that he was not afraid of the power and malice of his enemies. This would encourage his disciples who were full of fear. Also, that he was not disquieted at the thoughts of his approaching sufferings. But all marked his humiliation; and these matters teach us not to mind high things, but to condescend to those of low estate. How ill it becomes Christians to take state, when Christ was so far from claiming it! They welcomed his person; Blessed is he that cometh, the He that should come, so often promised, so long expected; he comes in the name of the Lord. Let him have our best affections; he is a blessed Saviour, and brings blessings to us, and blessed be He that sent him. Praises be to our God, who is in the highest heavens, over all, God blessed for ever.See this passage illustrated in the notes at Matthew 21:1-16.CHAPTER 11

Mr 11:1-11. Christ's Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, on the First Day of the Week. ( = Mt 21:1-9; Lu 19:29-40; Joh 12:12, 19).

See on [1475]Lu 19:29-40.

Ver. 3-6. See Poole on "Matthew 21:3", &c. All along the story of our Saviour’s life and actions we shall find certain indications of his Divine power and virtue: his knowing men’s thoughts, and declarations of such his knowledge to them: his certain prediction of future contingencies, being able to tell persons such particulars as no man could know. How could he who was not God have told the disciples, that at their entrance into the village they should find a colt on which never man sat, that the owners would not resist strangers to take it away? Yet notwithstanding all this disciples very imperfectly believed him to be so, until he was risen from the dead. The time was not yet come when Christ would have this published, and till he gave them a power to believe it, i.e. to have a full persuasion of it, all these moral arguments were not sufficient to work in their hearts a full persuasion. The faith of the Christians of that time seemeth to have had these three gradations:

1. They believed him a great Prophet, that had received great power from God.

2. They owned him as the Messiah, as the Son of David, and now and then they would drop some expressions arguing some persuasions that he was the Son of God.

3. Last of all, they came to a firm persuasion that he was truly God, as well as man, after that he was risen from the dead, and declared with power to be such, as the apostle saith.

Yet what means imaginable could they have had more than,

1. A voice from heaven declaring it.

2. The Spirit descending in a visible shape.

3. The great miracles he had wrought by sea and land, commanding the winds and the waves, healing incurable diseases and all others in an instant without use of rational means, raising the dead, &c.

4. His telling their thoughts, foretelling future contingencies, &c.

Yet all these produced in the generality of the people no more than amazement and astonishment; and in the apostles themselves, rather a disposition to such a faith, or an opinion or suspicion of such a thing, than a firm and fixed persuasion concerning it. And if any man say unto you,.... As very likely they would, and it would be strange if they should not say something to them, especially the owners of it:

why do ye this? Why do ye untie the ass, and attempt to carry it away, when it is none of your own, and it belongs to another man?

Say ye that the Lord hath need of him; our Lord and yours, the Lord of heaven and earth, and all things in it; it looks as if this title, "the Lord", was what Jesus was well known by; see John 11:28; unless it can be thought, that the owners of the colt were such, that believed in Christ, as is not improbable; and so would at once understand by the language who it was for, and let it go:

and straightway he will send him, hither; as soon as ever he hears that the Lord, by whom he would presently understand Jesus, wanted him for his present purpose; he will send him with all readiness and cheerfulness, without the least hesitation, or making any dispute about it.

And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.
Mark 11:3. ὁ κύριος α. χ. ἔχει, the Master hath need of him. Vide on this at Matthew 21:3.—καὶ εὐθὺς, etc., and straightway He returneth him (the colt) again.—πάλιν, a well-attested reading, clearly implies this meaning, i.e., that Jesus bids His disciples promise the owner that He will return the colt without delay, after He has had His use of it. So without hesitation Weiss (in Meyer) and Holtzmann (H. C.). Meyer thinks this a paltry thing for Christ to say, and rejects πάλιν as an addition due to misunderstanding. Biassed by the same sense of decorum—“below the dignity of the occasion and of the Speaker”—the Speaker’s Comm. cherishes doubt as to πάλιν, sheltering itself behind the facts that, while the MSS. which insert “again” are generally more remarkable for omissions than additions, yet in this instance they lack the support of ancient versions and early Fathers. I do not feel the force of the argument from decorum. It judges Christ’s action by a conventional standard. Why should not Jesus instruct His disciples to say “it will be returned without delay” as an inducement to lend it? Dignity! How much will have to go if that is to be the test of historicity! There was not only dignity but humiliation in the manner of entering Jerusalem: the need for the colt, the use of it, the fact that it had to be borrowed all enter as elements in the lowly state of the Son of Man. On the whole subject vide notes on Mt. This is another of Mk.’s realisms, which Mt.’s version obliterates. Field (Otium Nor.), often bold in his interpretations, here succumbs to the decorum argument, and is biassed by it against the reading πάλιν contained in so many important MSS. (vide above).3. the Lord hath need of him] The words suggest that the man may have been a secret disciple. “Secret disciples, such as the five hundred who afterwards gathered to one spot in Galilee, and the hundred and twenty who met after the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:6; Acts 1:15), were scattered in many places.”Verse 3. - And if any one say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye, The Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him back hither. The Greek, according to the best authorities here, is εὐθέως αὐτὸν ἀποστελλει πάλιν ῶδε: literally, straightway he sendeth it back hither again, The verb here in the present may represent the verb in the future, "he will send it back." But the word "again" (πάλιν) is not quite so easily explained. There is strong authority for the insertion of this word, which necessarily changes the meaning of the sentence. Without the πάλιν, the sentence would actually mean that our Lord, by his Divine prescience, here tells his disciples that when the colt was demanded by them the owner would at once permit them to take it. But if the word πάλιν be inserted, it can only mean that this was a part of the message which our Lord directed his disciples to deliver as from himself, "The Lord hath need of him; and he, the Lord, will forthwith send him back again." The passage is so interpreted by Origen, who twice introduces the adverb in his commentary on St. Matthew. The evidence of the oldest uncials is strongly in favor of this insertion. Our Lord was unwilling that the disciples should take away the colt if the owner objected, lie might have taken the animals away in his own supreme right, but he chose to accomplish his will by his providence, powerfully and yet gently; and, if the reading here be allowed, he further influenced them by the promise that their property should be returned to them. It was the will and purpose of Christ, who for these three years had gone about on foot, and traveled over the whole of Palestine in this way, to show himself at length the King of Judah, that is, the Messiah and Heir of David; and so he resolves to enter Jerusalem, the metropolis, the city of the great King, with royal dignity. But he will not be surrounded with the" pomp and circumstance" of an earthly monarch. He rides on an ass's colt, that he might show his kingdom to be of another kind, that is, spiritual and heavenly. And so he assumes a humble equipage, riding upon a colt, his only housings being the clothes of his disciples. And yet there was dignity as well as humility in his equipage. The ass of the East was, and is, a superior animal to that known amongst us. The judges and princes of Israel rode on "white asses," and their sons on asses' colts. So our Lord rode upon an ass's colt; and there were no gleaming swords in his procession, or other signs of strife and bloodshed. But there were palm branches and garments spread all along his path - the evidences of devotion to him. So he came in gentleness, not that he might be feared on account of his power, but that he might be loved on account of his goodness.
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