Sunday, April 5, 2009

Strength

"Go into the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey and her colt by her.  Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them..." Matthew 21:2-3a

We don't usually think of Jesus as a boss, asking his subordinates to get his dry cleaning, pick up his mail, run and get a skinny double shot vente sugar-free latte (I doubt he counted calories, for one thing!).  His disciples weren't his errand boys, for the most part.  But Jesus did have a pretty direct approach with them from the very beginning. "Follow me," He tells them.  "Cast your nets on the other side."  "Pick up all the food from the crowd."  "Go into all the world."  Not so much as a please and thank you among those words, there was command in His voice.  The very voice of God in it, one might go so far as to say. 

Jesus' softness, such as it was, was reserved for children, widows, the broken and needy.  And even then, sometimes He seemed pretty stern. "Who touched me?" He once asked in a mosh-pit-like crowd, feeling the press of something more than simple human flesh against Him. That poor, bleeding but now healed woman who'd had the audacity to touch His cloak must have shrunk against herself a little at His tone.  But her faith moved Him, even more than her touch had.  Because He loved her.  That's the thing--even in His firmest tones, there was love.

Maybe we miss that.  Maybe we think that love must be soft and gentle, meek and mild.  Maybe we think we aren't loved unless we've been handled with kid-gloves, candlelight and quiet music. And maybe we miss the mark all together with such ideas.  Because the best love that ever lived in a human body walked around with dirty feet, stringy hair and a voice of command.  This love judged behavior so harshly, He overturned tables at the temple and was harsh with those closest to Him for not getting it.  He was more concerned with their best than tickling their ears and soothing their feelings.  He had long distance vision where we are congenitally myopic.

Jesus, whose disciples found a donkey and its colt exactly where He said they would, could see that what would begin with a ride on an unbroken foal and crowds shouting, "Hallelujah!" would end with those same crowds shouting, "Crucify Him," to His beaten and bloodied face.  Yet still He sent those disciples to fetch that donkey.  Still He miraculously got up on a beast that had never felt the weight of a human on its back---He's like the original horse whisperer, if you think about it!  With love shining in His strong eyes, He rode into Jerusalem.  The people waved at Him with palm fronds, crowning Him king by their words, and He loved them for it.  Exactly how He'd love them five days later, when He cried, "Forgive them," from the cross.  They knew not what they did at either end of the week, you see.  Neither in the crowning nor the crucifying, did they have the faintest idea. 

But He did.  It was the strength in that Incarnate Love that tamed the donkey, cleared the temple, and surrendered His life.  The strength of command and the strength of surrender.  The strength of Love. 

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