On a Horse with No Name

I’m going to ease back into blogging by spending Holy Week sharing the final set of reflections in our Pietist Option Lenten devotional, Come Back to Jesus. For this Palm and Passion Sunday, Bethel Seminary student Steve Pavlicek (Plymouth, Minnesota) considers Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” (Mark 11:1-3, ESV)

11th c. painting of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem
11th c. painting of Jesus entering Jerusalem – Creative Commons (Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

As we come to Jesus’ Passion, we see again and again the values of earthly kingdoms juxtaposed with those of the heavenly kingdom becoming a reality here on Earth. “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them,” he tells the ambitious James and John. “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (Mark 10:42-44, ESV). Then as he leaves Jericho and begins the last leg of his climactic journey, Jesus reveals his power not by lording it over others, but rather by serving Bartimaeus in healing his sight.

Finally, Jesus approaches Jerusalem — on a young mule, exemplifying that his kingship is one where power should not be sought as an end itself, but rather should be used to participate in activities of humble service bearing his name.

Most interesting to me in this passage is the mule. I like to think that it has not been reared, that a colt “on which no one has ever sat” has not been led by bit and bridle to teach it where and when to go. Instead, I like to think that the young colt that Jesus rides is unharnessed and relies on his voice to lead it well into the city.

Lord, I pray for the same qualities as the mule: to be a humble servant who is attentive to Jesus’ voice, as I engage in active expectation of your kingdom.